How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth
Dr. Jeffrey A. D. Weima

Major Elements of a Reformed Hermeneutic

  • The Holy Spirit Element
  • The Grammatical Element
  • The Literary Element
  • The Historical Element
  • The Theological Element

The Grammatical  Element

Thesis: "Every translation involves interpretation"
"Every translation is a commentary in disguise"

Italian Proverb: "Traduttore traditore” ("The translator is a traitor")

Swedish Bible Translation Committee: "The art of translation is the art of compromise"

Haim Nachmam Bialik (1873-1934: Jewish poet): "Reading the Bible in translation is like kissing your bride through a veil."

Grant Showerman (1870-1935; Prof. of Classics, Univ. Wisconsin; translator of classical works): "Translation is sin."

Example 1: Luke 11:5-8 "Parable of the Friend at Midnight"
11:5 Then he [Jesus] said to them, ―Suppose one of you has a friend, and he goes to him at midnight and says, "Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, 6 because a friend of mine on a journey has come ... me, and I have nothing to set before him.' 7"Then the one inside answers, 'Don't bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can't get up and give you anything.' 8 I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man's boldness [marginal reading: persistence] he will get up and give him as much as he needs." (NIV 1984; NIV 2011 shameless audacity)

  • ἀναίδειαν (anaideian) = "boldness"
  • ἀναίδειαν (anaideian) = "persistence"

Example 2:
Luke 11:9
"So I say to you: 'Ask (αἰτεῖτε/aiteite) and it will be given to you; seek (ζητεῖτε/zêteite) and you will find; knock (κρούετε/krouete) and the door will be opened to you" (NIV)

  • Present Imperatives = ongoing, continuous action

Example 3: Colossians 2:18
"Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels (θρησκείᾳ  τῶν  ἀγγέλων, thrêskeia tôn angellôn) disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions"

  1. Objective Genitive: "worship of angels"
  2. Subjective Genitive: "angels' worship"

Example 4
: 1 Timothy 2:12

"I permit no woman to teach or to have authority (αὐθεντεῖν/authentein) over men" (NIV)

  • Traditional Interpretation: A straight-forward, literal understanding of this verse forbids any woman to hold a position of authority over men in church and perhaps in other spheres of life (family, society)
  • Challenging Interpretation: Takes the two infinitives ("to teach or to assume authority”) as working together in which the second infinitive clarifies the first (hendiadys): no woman may teach in such a way that she has authority over men; this means that she can still teach under certain conditions

Last modified: Thursday, October 29, 2020, 10:52 AM