Path of Least Explanation

Hermeneutic: n. 1. The study of the methodological principles of interpretation (as of the Bible) 2. A method or principle of interpretation.

Today there are more various hermeneutical methods floating about than one can count. A great many of them come from taking an outside theory, philosophy or method and applying it to biblical interpretation and “seeing what happens.”

I have settled into my own method, over the years, and I have not found it “out there” put forth as a method, so, I thought I’d share it.

The Hermeneutic of Least Explanation

What I mean is this, I try to find the interpretation of any particular passage that meets the following criteria:

1. The most literal, face-value reading of the text possible, acknowledging that the scripture does employ various styles within.

2. The interpretation that is most consistent with other teaching in the scriptures on whatever the topic is.

3. The interpretation that requires the least amount of explanation, disclaimer and linguistic and theological gymnastics.

That’s it. You could sum it up as the “no buts” hermeneutic I suppose. That’s my goal, not reading a passage and saying, “I know it seems to say such and so, but….”

I think it puts the authority in the right place, it allows the scripture to interpret my philosophy and worldview, rather than the other way around, as much as possible.


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