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Article Title or Book Review Reference

Some Hermeneutical Principles for the Biblical Historian

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Article

Abstract (For book reviews see instructions below)

While the grammatical-historical method of interpretation, which focuses on the languages of the biblical text and its historical backgrounds to arrive at meaning, has long been the interpretive procedure of choice in many faith communities, modern methods of biblical study have tended to move away from text-historical, to text-exclusive or more reader-centered hermeneutics. Unfortunately, this trend has either basically removed history from the interpretive arena or left the field open to simplistic and sensationalistic historical explanations. Since one’s view of biblical history is predicated on background matters such as conceptions of revelation, inspiration, the Bible, and even history itself, I explore these concerns first. Next, I deal with issues such as not overstating historical evidence and uniqueness, as well as the need for recognizing hyperbole, where it exists, after which I present ways that archaeology, geography, and the identification of cultural differences, are vital for a better understanding of biblical history. Finally, since the biblical text, in its current form, exhibits a long history of development and transmission, with language and scribal updates reflected therein, I submit that an honest and faithful interpretation of its historical contents, that upholds the integrity of the word of God, necessitates a balanced position that acknowledges text-critical issues, rather than ignoring or overemphasizing their existence.

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