Grammatico-Historical Exegesis

What do we mean by grammatico-historical exegesis?

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The term grammatico-historical exegesis has been understood that, when we read a passage of Scripture, that we should understand it according to its grammar, according to its syntax, and also according to the historical context, and therefore, we would say, how would the original hearers have understood that message in their time? And so, we want to be careful that, as we're interpreting the Bible, we want to do it in accordance with its syntax, with its grammar, but also in accordance with its history. And therefore, if we interpret the Scriptures in a way where it's, let's say, out of history or "anachronistic," then there's great inaccuracy in the way we interpret Scripture. And so, the best way to interpret Scripture, of course, is to let one portion of Scripture interpret the other. And, if you'll notice, that sometimes the apostles will interpret Scripture grammatically-historically. They'll do it that way sometimes. If you read, for instance, in Galatians 3, Paul's talking about how Abraham was saved, and he talks about the relationship between the promises given to Abraham and then the Law that's given some 430 years later. You can see as Paul is writing Galatians 3 that he is understanding that in a very grammatical and an historical way. And so, the apostles use a historical-grammatical approach, so we should also do that. Now, certainly they use other types of methods of interpretation as well. They will interpret the Scriptures sort of theologically, but you can clearly see that almost all of their interpretations have a basis that is based in grammar and based in history, and therefore, that's why we like the grammatico-historical approach.

Answer by Dr. Russell T. Fuller

Dr. Russell T. Fuller is Professor of Old Testament Interpretation at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.