He Gave Us Scripture: Foundations of Interpretation

He Gave Us Scripture: Foundations of Interpretation cover art
Instructor: Multiple Instructors
Lessons: 11
Forums: 11
Discipline: Practical Theology
Course Group: Hermeneutics

Evangelical Christians affirm the Scriptures as God's inerrant word, but we still disagree sometimes over the meaning of particular verses or passages. And these differences can influence our Christian doctrine and practice. One reason for these disagreements is that there are many different approaches to interpreting the Bible. But how do we know which approach to interpretation is the most responsible?

Course Goals:

  • Introduce the basic concepts of interpretation.
  • Provide a philosophy of interpretation focused on discerning the original meaning of Scripture.
  • Provide a philosophy of interpretation that leads to responsible, practical modern application.

60 min.

Lesson 1: Introduction to Biblical Hermeneutics

Introduces a basic framework for sound and scholarly biblical interpretation.
48 min.

Forum 1: Introduction to Biblical Hermeneutics

A companion video to lesson 1 of the same series that answers the following questions:
  • Why is it so important to submit to the authority of Scripture?
  • What are the most important hermeneutical principles we should follow?
  • Why aren't our interpretations of Scripture equal in authority to Scripture itself?
  • Why is it so important to search for the original meaning of biblical passages?
  • How does our faith in Christ affect our interpretations of the Bible?
  • How does the spiritual conditions of an interpreter affect his or her ability to interpret the Bible?
  • How can we remain emotionally engaged with the text of Scripture when we make it an object of academic study?
  • How important is it for us to love and cherish the Scripture?
  • What part does prayer play in biblical interpretation?
  • How important is it for us to put our knowledge of the Bible into practice?
48 min.

Forum 1: Introduction to Biblical Hermeneutics

A companion video to lesson 1 of the same series that answers the following questions:
  • Why is it so important to submit to the authority of Scripture?
  • What are the most important hermeneutical principles we should follow?
  • Why aren't our interpretations of Scripture equal in authority to Scripture itself?
  • Why is it so important to search for the original meaning of biblical passages?
  • How does our faith in Christ affect our interpretations of the Bible?
  • How does the spiritual conditions of an interpreter affect his or her ability to interpret the Bible?
  • How can we remain emotionally engaged with the text of Scripture when we make it an object of academic study?
  • How important is it for us to love and cherish the Scripture?
  • What part does prayer play in biblical interpretation?
  • How important is it for us to put our knowledge of the Bible into practice?
46 min.

Lesson 2: Preparation for Interpretation

Focuses on helpful things to do before reading and interpreting the Scriptures.
60 min.

Forum 2: Preparation for Interpretation

A companion video to lesson 2 of the same series that answers the following questions:
  • In what ways did the writers of Scripture use their own gifts, abilities, and writing styles as they composed the Scriptures?
  • In what ways are unbelievers unable to understand the Scriptures fully?
  • What do theologians mean when they say that the Holy Spirit grants people "illumination" to help them understand Scripture?
  • Why can't we just reply on the Holy Spirit to tell us what the Scriptures mean?
  • What types of training and education are most beneficial to us when we interpret the Bible?
  • How do our past experiences help or hinder the way we apply Scripture to our personal lives?
  • Do our sins hinder our ability to interpret the Bible?
  • What role should our current beliefs play in our interpretation of the Bible?
  • How should we prepare to read the Scriptures, and why is deliberate preparation so important?
  • In what ways should we rely on the Holy Spirit as we study Scripture?
  • What kind of impact should inspiration have on the way we interpret Scripture?
60 min.

Forum 2: Preparation for Interpretation

A companion video to lesson 2 of the same series that answers the following questions:
  • In what ways did the writers of Scripture use their own gifts, abilities, and writing styles as they composed the Scriptures?
  • In what ways are unbelievers unable to understand the Scriptures fully?
  • What do theologians mean when they say that the Holy Spirit grants people "illumination" to help them understand Scripture?
  • Why can't we just reply on the Holy Spirit to tell us what the Scriptures mean?
  • What types of training and education are most beneficial to us when we interpret the Bible?
  • How do our past experiences help or hinder the way we apply Scripture to our personal lives?
  • Do our sins hinder our ability to interpret the Bible?
  • What role should our current beliefs play in our interpretation of the Bible?
  • How should we prepare to read the Scriptures, and why is deliberate preparation so important?
  • In what ways should we rely on the Holy Spirit as we study Scripture?
  • What kind of impact should inspiration have on the way we interpret Scripture?
49 min.

Lesson 3: Investigating Scripture

Focuses on concepts important to exploring and discovering the meaning of Scripture.
54 min.

Forum 3: Investigating Scripture

A companion video to lesson 3 of the same series that answers the following questions:
  • What factors can help us discern the original meaning of Scripture?
  • What do we mean by grammatico-historical exegesis?
  • How does information about the writer of a biblical book help us understand the book's original meaning?
  • How can information about a biblical book's original audience help us understand it's meaning?
  • How did biblical writers deliberately accommodate their material to make it more meaningful to their original audiences?
  • During the Middle Ages, was the emphasis placed on the original meaning of Scripture more or less important than church tradition?
  • Has the text of the Bible been corrupted over time?
  • What are the consequences of ignoring the historical situation of biblical passages?
54 min.

Forum 3: Investigating Scripture

A companion video to lesson 3 of the same series that answers the following questions:
  • What factors can help us discern the original meaning of Scripture?
  • What do we mean by grammatico-historical exegesis?
  • How does information about the writer of a biblical book help us understand the book's original meaning?
  • How can information about a biblical book's original audience help us understand it's meaning?
  • How did biblical writers deliberately accommodate their material to make it more meaningful to their original audiences?
  • During the Middle Ages, was the emphasis placed on the original meaning of Scripture more or less important than church tradition?
  • Has the text of the Bible been corrupted over time?
  • What are the consequences of ignoring the historical situation of biblical passages?
50 min.

Lesson 4: Approaches to Meaning

Looks at some of the major ways interpreters have identified and described the meaning of Scripture.
61 min.

Forum 4: Approaches to Meaning

A companion video to lesson 4 of the same series that answers the following questions:
  • How can identifying the proper genre help us interpret Scripture more responsibly?
  • How does the process of interpreting Scripture resemble a spiral that closes in on God's authoritative meaning?
  • Why is it important to consider a biblical author's purposes and goals for writing?
  • What were the fundamental ideas underlying Descartes' rationalism?
  • What were the fundamental ideas underlying Kant's subjectivism?
  • How can overemphasizing our own responses to the Bible undermine the objective meaning of a text?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of following a rigorous methodology in our interpretation of Scripture?
  • What is the relationship between Bible study methods and intuition?
  • How can our gifts and abilities help or hinder the way we apply the Scriptures?
  • How should we evaluate interpretations that are different from our own?
  • Why is it important to do more than simply affirm the authority of Scripture?
61 min.

Forum 4: Approaches to Meaning

A companion video to lesson 4 of the same series that answers the following questions:
  • How can identifying the proper genre help us interpret Scripture more responsibly?
  • How does the process of interpreting Scripture resemble a spiral that closes in on God's authoritative meaning?
  • Why is it important to consider a biblical author's purposes and goals for writing?
  • What were the fundamental ideas underlying Descartes' rationalism?
  • What were the fundamental ideas underlying Kant's subjectivism?
  • How can overemphasizing our own responses to the Bible undermine the objective meaning of a text?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of following a rigorous methodology in our interpretation of Scripture?
  • What is the relationship between Bible study methods and intuition?
  • How can our gifts and abilities help or hinder the way we apply the Scriptures?
  • How should we evaluate interpretations that are different from our own?
  • Why is it important to do more than simply affirm the authority of Scripture?
56 min.

Lesson 5: The Complexity of Meaning

Explores the ways in which Christians throughout the ages have attributed different types and numbers of meaning to biblical passages.
67 min.

Forum 5: The Complexity of Meaning

A companion video to lesson 5 of the same series that answers the following questions:
  • How can we develop the skills we need to understand the original meaning of biblical passages?
  • What is the proper way to use Greek and Hebrew dictionaries when we interpret the Bible?
  • Why is it important to identify the genre of a biblical book?
  • How did the Reformers' approach to interpretation differ from the Quadriga?
  • Since many early Christians interpreted the Bible in "spiritual" rather and "literal" ways, is there any benefit to reading their interpretations?
  • How did Paul use allegorical interpretation in his writings?
  • Why is it important to distinguish between Scripture itself and our applications of Scripture?
  • How does Jesus' teaching on the commandment against murder help us better understand God's commandments in Exodus chapter 20?
  • What are some legitimate contemporary applications of the commandment against murder?
  • How can we avoid legalism when we emphasize the behavioral implications of Scripture?
67 min.

Forum 5: The Complexity of Meaning

A companion video to lesson 5 of the same series that answers the following questions:
  • How can we develop the skills we need to understand the original meaning of biblical passages?
  • What is the proper way to use Greek and Hebrew dictionaries when we interpret the Bible?
  • Why is it important to identify the genre of a biblical book?
  • How did the Reformers' approach to interpretation differ from the Quadriga?
  • Since many early Christians interpreted the Bible in "spiritual" rather and "literal" ways, is there any benefit to reading their interpretations?
  • How did Paul use allegorical interpretation in his writings?
  • Why is it important to distinguish between Scripture itself and our applications of Scripture?
  • How does Jesus' teaching on the commandment against murder help us better understand God's commandments in Exodus chapter 20?
  • What are some legitimate contemporary applications of the commandment against murder?
  • How can we avoid legalism when we emphasize the behavioral implications of Scripture?
60 min.

Lesson 6: Discovering Meaning

Focuses on hermeneutical strategies that help reveal the original meaning of Scripture.
55 min.

Forum 6: Discovering Meaning

A companion video to lesson 6 of the same series that answers the following questions:
  • Why is it important to understand a biblical book's historical setting?
  • Why should we consider the author and original audience when interpreting a biblical text?
  • What are some drawbacks to over-emphasizing the original audience in biblical interpretation?
  • How can becoming familiar with Greek help us to interpret the New Testament?
  • How important to our interpretive efforts is knowledge of a passage's grammatical and historical contexts?
  • What kinds of copying errors did scribes typically make when copying biblical texts?
  • Were New Testament authors sometimes unfaithful to the Old Testament?
  • How can learning from other interpreters help us interpret the Bible better?
  • How can pastors and teachers learn to adapt their teaching to the needs of different audiences?
55 min.

Forum 6: Discovering Meaning

A companion video to lesson 6 of the same series that answers the following questions:
  • Why is it important to understand a biblical book's historical setting?
  • Why should we consider the author and original audience when interpreting a biblical text?
  • What are some drawbacks to over-emphasizing the original audience in biblical interpretation?
  • How can becoming familiar with Greek help us to interpret the New Testament?
  • How important to our interpretive efforts is knowledge of a passage's grammatical and historical contexts?
  • What kinds of copying errors did scribes typically make when copying biblical texts?
  • Were New Testament authors sometimes unfaithful to the Old Testament?
  • How can learning from other interpreters help us interpret the Bible better?
  • How can pastors and teachers learn to adapt their teaching to the needs of different audiences?
47 min.

Lesson 7: Applying Scripture

Suggests approaches to application that make the original meaning of Scripture relevant for modern audiences.
57 min.

Forum 7: Applying Scripture

A companion video to lesson 7 of the same series that answers the following questions:
  • What guidelines should we follow when we apply biblical passages to modern life?
  • How does knowing the original meaning of a passage of Scripture help us apply it to our lives?
  • In what ways is God immutable?
  • Do all human beings have a sinful nature?
  • How does God's later revelation influence our understanding of his earlier revelation?
  • What are proper motivations for obeying the Scriptures?
  • Is obeying the Bible different from obeying God?
  • What are some cultural features of the Old and New Testaments that distance the Bible from contemporary readers?
  • How should we account for differences between biblical cultures and our own as we apply Scripture to our lives today?
  • How can believers today apply Scripture to their lives in light of changes in redemptive history?
  • How can believers make the Scriptures relevant and applicable to their lives today?
57 min.

Forum 7: Applying Scripture

A companion video to lesson 7 of the same series that answers the following questions:
  • What guidelines should we follow when we apply biblical passages to modern life?
  • How does knowing the original meaning of a passage of Scripture help us apply it to our lives?
  • In what ways is God immutable?
  • Do all human beings have a sinful nature?
  • How does God's later revelation influence our understanding of his earlier revelation?
  • What are proper motivations for obeying the Scriptures?
  • Is obeying the Bible different from obeying God?
  • What are some cultural features of the Old and New Testaments that distance the Bible from contemporary readers?
  • How should we account for differences between biblical cultures and our own as we apply Scripture to our lives today?
  • How can believers today apply Scripture to their lives in light of changes in redemptive history?
  • How can believers make the Scriptures relevant and applicable to their lives today?
61 min.

Lesson 8: Modern Application and Old Testament Epochs

Explores the ways Old Testament faith developed through the great epochs of history, and explains how these developments impact our application of Scripture.
74 min.

Forum 8: Modern Application and Old Testament Epochs

A companion video to lesson 8 of the same series that answers the following questions:
  • Why is Scripture authoritative?
  • How should we understand the Bible's authorship?
  • How much were the authors of Scripture influenced by the circumstances of their original audiences?
  • How can we tell which characters in the Bible are positive examples for us to follow and which are negative examples we should reject?
  • How can we determine from Scripture the major epochs or eras of redemptive history?
  • What criteria do theologians use to divide Old Testament history into eras or epochs?
  • How does God function as the protagonist and Satan as the antagonist in the storyline of Old Testament history?
  • How should we apply the Bible's depictions of divine and national warfare to our lives today?
  • How should Jesus' office of king influence the way we apply the Bible to modern life?
74 min.

Forum 8: Modern Application and Old Testament Epochs

A companion video to lesson 8 of the same series that answers the following questions:
  • Why is Scripture authoritative?
  • How should we understand the Bible's authorship?
  • How much were the authors of Scripture influenced by the circumstances of their original audiences?
  • How can we tell which characters in the Bible are positive examples for us to follow and which are negative examples we should reject?
  • How can we determine from Scripture the major epochs or eras of redemptive history?
  • What criteria do theologians use to divide Old Testament history into eras or epochs?
  • How does God function as the protagonist and Satan as the antagonist in the storyline of Old Testament history?
  • How should we apply the Bible's depictions of divine and national warfare to our lives today?
  • How should Jesus' office of king influence the way we apply the Bible to modern life?
56 min.

Lesson 9: Modern Application and the New Covenant

Explores how the new covenant in Christ should guide the ways we apply all of Scripture to our own day.
53 min.

Forum 9: Modern Application and the New Covenant

A companion video to lesson 9 of the same series that answers the following questions:
  • How did New Testament authors interpret Old Testament themes in light of Christ's first and second comings?
  • How did Christ fulfill the theme of warfare against evil in his first coming?
  • How does Christ fulfill the theme of warfare against evil through the church today?
  • When he returns in glory, how will Christ fulfill the biblical theme of warfare against evil?
  • What did Paul mean in Ephesians chapter 3 when he spoke of "the mystery made known to me by revelation"?
  • How is living in the church today different from living in the days of Christ and his apostles?
  • How should believers account for developments in God's kingdom when we apply Scripture to our lives today?
53 min.

Forum 9: Modern Application and the New Covenant

A companion video to lesson 9 of the same series that answers the following questions:
  • How did New Testament authors interpret Old Testament themes in light of Christ's first and second comings?
  • How did Christ fulfill the theme of warfare against evil in his first coming?
  • How does Christ fulfill the theme of warfare against evil through the church today?
  • When he returns in glory, how will Christ fulfill the biblical theme of warfare against evil?
  • What did Paul mean in Ephesians chapter 3 when he spoke of "the mystery made known to me by revelation"?
  • How is living in the church today different from living in the days of Christ and his apostles?
  • How should believers account for developments in God's kingdom when we apply Scripture to our lives today?
61 min.

Lesson 10: Biblical Culture and Modern Application

Looks at how the cultural dimensions of Scripture affects our application of the Bible to the modern world.
53 min.

Forum 10: Biblical Culture and Modern Application

A companion video to lesson 10 of the same series that answers the following questions:
  • Why did God give humanity the cultural mandate?
  • How did humanity's fall into sin affect our ability to think rightly?
  • In what ways did God's laws direct the culture of ancient Israel?
  • How did the coming of Christ affect the relationship between Israel and the Gentile nations?
  • How can we know the difference between cultural practices merely described in the Bible and practices that we're required to follow today?
  • How should Christians respond to Paul's statements about head coverings in 1 Corinthians chapter 11?
  • What does it mean for Christians to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world?
  • How do Christians approve of the differences between cultures today but still maintain faith in the absolute authority of Scripture?
53 min.

Forum 10: Biblical Culture and Modern Application

A companion video to lesson 10 of the same series that answers the following questions:
  • Why did God give humanity the cultural mandate?
  • How did humanity's fall into sin affect our ability to think rightly?
  • In what ways did God's laws direct the culture of ancient Israel?
  • How did the coming of Christ affect the relationship between Israel and the Gentile nations?
  • How can we know the difference between cultural practices merely described in the Bible and practices that we're required to follow today?
  • How should Christians respond to Paul's statements about head coverings in 1 Corinthians chapter 11?
  • What does it mean for Christians to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world?
  • How do Christians approve of the differences between cultures today but still maintain faith in the absolute authority of Scripture?
63 min.

Lesson 11: Modern Application for Individuals

Looks at how we should apply Scripture to others and to ourselves as individual people.
59 min.

Forum 11: Modern Application for Individuals

A companion video to lesson 11 of the same series that answers the following questions:
  • Are the Bible's commands to love God and neighbor interconnected?
  • Are there some laws or commands in the Bible that we shouldn't obey?
  • Why do believers today primarily focus on Scripture's behavioral applications?
  • Are the corporate aspects of our Christian lives equally as important as the individual aspects?
  • How important is it for us to be "doers" of the word and not only "hearers"?
  • How does the Holy Spirit help us apply Scripture to our lives?
  • How can we avoid emotionalism when we emphasize the emotional aspects of Scripture?
  • How can we know when to follow the examples of individuals described in the Bible?
  • How can we develop the skills we need to interpret the Bible responsibly?
  • How can pastors apply the Scriptures to the variety of individuals in their churches?
59 min.

Forum 11: Modern Application for Individuals

A companion video to lesson 11 of the same series that answers the following questions:
  • Are the Bible's commands to love God and neighbor interconnected?
  • Are there some laws or commands in the Bible that we shouldn't obey?
  • Why do believers today primarily focus on Scripture's behavioral applications?
  • Are the corporate aspects of our Christian lives equally as important as the individual aspects?
  • How important is it for us to be "doers" of the word and not only "hearers"?
  • How does the Holy Spirit help us apply Scripture to our lives?
  • How can we avoid emotionalism when we emphasize the emotional aspects of Scripture?
  • How can we know when to follow the examples of individuals described in the Bible?
  • How can we develop the skills we need to interpret the Bible responsibly?
  • How can pastors apply the Scriptures to the variety of individuals in their churches?