Principles of Hermeneutics

BB303/503  (you’ll still often find this coded as OT303/503)

WORKLOAD: one semester, 4 credit points
STATUS: elective
WHEN: 2014 by distance only

How to interpret the Bible is one of the most formative skills a Christian can learn. It’s important, because to read is to interpret. Whether we are conscious of it or not, we each bring our presuppositions and subjective experience to the text. Without hermeneutics (the science and art of interpreting the Bible), we are in danger of jumping over its original meaning and distorting the word of God. When dealing with such a complex and multi-faceted document featuring different authors, purposes, genres and historical settings, care is needed when seeking to interpret and apply the Bible today. This unit equips students to be able to exegete a passage of Scripture, be able to explain interpretive decisions and apply these lessons to their personal study of the Scriptures, public preaching and Bible study leading.


  1. To introduce the general principles of the interpretation of biblical documents.
  2. To assist students to gain a basic appreciation of the various genres of literature in scripture and a how such genres should be interpreted.
  3. To impart an awareness of foundational considerations for the exposition of biblical texts.
  4. To develop skills of biblical interpretation that will form a basis for personal study of the scriptures, expository preaching, and group Bible study.


Upon completion of this unit students will be able to

  1. Exegete a passage of Scripture in a manner which is sensitive to its original context;
  2. Explain to someone else the way in which they would go about interpreting a passage in such a way to show its significance for a Christian audience;
  3. Prepare to deliver a Bible study or preach a sermon that reflects sound exegetical principles and an awareness of biblical theology.


There are two standard works that we will be using:

  • Klein, William W., Craig L. Blomberg and Robert L. Hubbard. Introduction to Biblical Interpretation. Revised & expanded edition. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2004.
  • Osborne, Grant R. The Hermeneutical Spiral: A Comprehensive Introduction to Biblical Interpretation. Revised & expanded edition. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006.

The book by Osborne is more technical and slightly more comprehensive than that by Klein, Blomberg and Hubbard, and some students have found Osborne’s work a bit overwhelming as an introductory work.

If this is your first experience of studying hermeneutics, it may be helpful for you to work through a more basic book first. Contact the distance coordinator for such recommendations.


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