• Hermeneutics

    Meaning, Knowledge, and ‘Culture’

    Culture In its broadest sense, a culture is a set of beliefs and norms held by groups of people and passed on from one generation to the next. When it comes to hermeneutics, the theory and practice of interpreting texts, culture is something the reader (and author) possesses. I can talk about my culture and your culture. What I mean by possession is that we possess beliefs and norms that are passed on to us by a previous generation in virtue of which we belong to a particular culture. What constitutes a group is unclear. Technically, a group is a collection of people composed of at least one person. As…

  • Bible,  Epistemology,  Hermeneutics,  Jason Lisle,  Presuppositionalism

    A Hermeneutical Chicken and Egg

    While the truth of the scripture is guaranteed by its author, not all truths are found in scripture. I might know that Jesus is God because the Bible tells me, but I am pretty sure the Bible tells me nothing about algebra or the chemical composition of water. This is an important fact because a hermeneutic is developed partly prior to reading the Bible. A hermeneutic is a method of interpretation. We all develop a hermeneutic based on our intellectual faculties, background information, and skills. And we do so  whether we are conscious of it or not. A good hermeneutic will enable us to get the right interpretation of the…

  • Bible,  Hermeneutics

    Can We Know What an Ancient Writer Meant?

    In a recent post I argued that sentences carry single meanings and that meaning is determined by the intentions of the author. However, there is a further problem. Just because it is true that texts carry primary meanings intended by their authors, this does not entail that it is possible for a reader—especially a reader so removed chronologically, linguistically and culturally from the author—to understand the meaning of the text. In recent decades a “New Hermeneutic” has been proposed that assumes that any intended meaning is very difficult, if not impossible, to get at.[12] Given such a gulf between the author and reader, how could we possibly know what the author…

  • Bible,  Hermeneutics,  Language,  Philosophy of Language,  Propositions

    How Many Meanings Does a Sentence Have?

    A declarative sentence is said to express a proposition. Propositions have truth-values: they are either true or false.[4] Furthermore, the truth-value of a proposition is objective. It is true or false whether or not it is believed by anyone. The alternative to thinking that propositions have objective truth-value is self-refuting. This is clear from the following dilemma: Either propositions have objective truth values or the proposition expressed by the statement, “no propositions have objective truth values,” has no objective truth value.  Clearly, the proposition expressed by the statement “no propositions have objective truth values,” has an objective truth value. It cannot be both true and false, something in between or neither…

  • Hermeneutics,  Objectivity,  Religious Neutrality

    Is Objectivity Possible?

    Is it possible for a human being to be objective? Is there any such thing as objective truth? For Christians, the denial of such a possibility would leave a hermeneutic hole. If there is no possibility of objective truth then reading scripture would not yield what we have hoped for. We would also leave behind many other possibilities such as truths obtained in science and logic. Many deny objectivity outright. And those still holding to such an idea are often called modernists (now a slur in present academic circles) Part of the trouble is that “objective” and “objectivity” have multiple meanings and are thought about in multiple contexts. John Feinberg,…

  • Hermeneutics,  Science

    “It’s All Interpretation” Works Both Ways

    “Science merely reports the facts and innocently develops theories to explain phenomena. Theology, on the other hand, is only a matter of interpretation. You can read the Bible how you want and interpret it according to your presuppositions. Science can get to the “facts” but theology only gets to someone’s opinion.” A stereotypical statement perhaps, and not one many actual scientists make, but a common enough accusation made in conversations about theology’s relationship with the natural sciences. Let me first admit that human beings are interpreters, they seek to find the meaning of what they observe. Furthermore, they should seek a meaning that is the correct meaning. Some have given…