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Manuscript Type

Article

Abstract

This article, based largely on the writings of early Adventist leaders, examines the sources of Adventist hermeneutics primarily as they are revealed through the articles of the Advent Review and Sabbath Herald and the writings of Ellen G. White. It briefly surveys the interpretative methods of William Miller, recognizing the influence that his contemporary cultural setting had upon him, and identifying major practices that characterized early Adventist biblical interpretation. The article’s focus is on the hermeneutical practices of the nineteenth-century Sabbatarian/Seventh-day Adventist spokespersons and the importance they gave to honest inquiry, the role of reason and revelation, and the practices of contextualization and harmonization in what they deemed adequate Bible study. It also reflects briefly on their understanding of divine and human roles in the production of Scripture, their understanding of inspiration and progressive revelation, and the importance of individual study and the freedom of conscience in the interpretation of Scripture. These principles have shaped the Adventist community and separated it from some other conservative Christian circles in their approach to scriptural interpretation. Most notably, early Adventist hermeneutical practices have been markedly distinct from those employed by groups caught up in the waves of fundamentalism that have become popular from the nineteenth century to the present.

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