Both my parents went to Bible college. Dad is a Th.M. graduate of Capital Bible Seminary, and was a Bible and history teacher by trade for a couple of my formative decades. Needless to say, I learned how to study the Bible growing up. I took my first formal course in hermeneutics when I was 18, and quickly caught on to the fact that if my approach to the Bible was wrong, I could take all the Bible and theology courses in the world from the best teachers, and still come out lopsided. On the other hand, if my approach to the Bible was right, I could weather the storm of poor teaching if necessary, because the Bible itself would straighten me out.
With that in mind, hermeneutics became a major focus of my study for the next decade or so. I took hermeneutics and advanced hermeneutics courses in seminary, and when I graduated and began to teach, I taught hermeneutics myself. When Bob Wilkin of GES came up to teach an advanced hermeneutics course, I exercised my right to faculty audit and sat in the back to listen. It would be fair to say that I was mildly obsessed with the subject.
So imagine my surprise when, fairly late in the process, it dawned on me that hermeneutics has to be founded on the Bible itself. I’d been studying Charlie Clough’s Framework material, and as a result, presuppositional apologetics and philosophy from Bahnsen, Van Til, Frame, Rushdoony and others. All of this drew my attention to Romans 1-2, Colossians 2, Genesis 1-3, and other passages that made it increasingly clear that everything has to start with the triune God of the Bible and move forward from there.
It followed that one’s approach to the Bible must do the same.
So I scrapped the seminary hermeneutics curriculum I had developed three years earlier, and set to work writing a new one. I began to develop a narrative foundation approach to hermeneutics. Almost immediately, I found out that “hermeneutics” was not the category I wanted to be working with. The Bible does deal with how it should be interpreted, but only as an organic part of a larger category: how the Bible should be used. The biblical authors are not interested in correct interpretation as an end in itself, but as a precursor to belief and obedience. This does make a difference in approach; meditation on the Word becomes a hefty part of one’s approach to Scripture, for example.
Within that larger enterprise, however, the biblical authors do present examples of how to interpret Scripture properly, and offer a few choice comments on proper interpretation. I recently had occasion to teach a ten-week course at two churches showcasing some of the more striking examples. I’ve not yet had time to write all this material out, but the handouts are available here, and you can find recordings of the sessions under my name on Grace Chapel’s website.