The Importance Of Hermeneutics

Knowledge of the Bible is at the core of every classical Christian school’s curriculum. In fact, the Bible often stands alone as its own subject, and it is the foundation for the worldview through which every other subject is taught. At Providence Classical School, we believe the Bible is the Word of God; therefore, it is of primary importance in our curriculum.

Due to the high priority placed on the Bible at PCS, each student is taught the science of how to interpret the Bible. This discipline, known as hermeneutics, comprises the bulk of the 7th grade Bible curriculum at Providence. In hermeneutics class, students are taught the major Biblical genres that comprise the Old and New Testaments and the means by which to understand them. Students learn the skills of observation and literary analysis, so that they can become competent at biblical interpretation.

Some of the topics covered in Hermeneutics are the importance of both literary and historical context when interpreting. A verse or phrase cannot properly be understood without a knowledge of the surrounding context. Similarly, the historical context of the Bible can help illumine a proper understanding of Scripture as one learns about the time and places in which Scripture was written. In Hermeneutics students are taught about the world around the Bible and about the countries with which the biblical characters interacted.

A further topic covered in Hermeneutics is the importance of literary genre. The Bible is filled with various genres such as narrative, law, gospel, and apocalyptic literature. These genres are not all understood the same way. Therefore, students learn the key points of what to look for when interpreting the various genres of Scripture. This helps to ensure correct interpretation and application. Learning about the various genres of Scripture also helps to give students confidence that they can interpret every section of Scripture for themselves. This is important if we are to teach our students about the whole counsel of God.

Other topics covered in Hermeneutics at PCS are the role of the Holy Spirit in interpretation and the necessity of interpreting in biblical community. Reliance on the Spirit keeps one from becoming haughty in his knowledge of Scripture. Reliance on community provides guidelines so that students are not led into error by an egocentric interpretation of the Bible.

One of the major highlights of Hermeneutics is that the class provides ample time for students to put into practice what they are learning. Students are not only being taught what to look for when interpreting, they are also given the time to do it. Several class periods are devoted to reading time in which students, both individually and in groups, write out the observations that they are taught to look for when interpreting. The capstone project of the year is a paper in which students provide their ownunderstanding of a particular section of Scripture.

It is the hope and prayer of Providence Classical School that each student taking hermeneutics learns the confidence and competency of interpreting the Bible for himself. Student competency in biblical interpretation is important for several reasons. First, the way one interprets the Bible impacts which Christian denomination one joins. In hermeneutics class students learn that many of the differences between the various Christian denominations revolve around hermeneutics. That is, denominations differ because interpretations differ. Some of these differences are of little consequence, but others impact important issues, such as the meaning and mode of baptism. Some differences affect the meaning of cardinal doctrines, such as the nature of salvation itself. Hermeneutics teaches students the why and how of many of the differences among Christian denominations.

Secondly, hermeneutics is important because every verse of every book of the Bible is interpreted differently by different people. Without a basic knowledge of how to understand the Bible, students could easily be swept away by an aberrant interpretation of Scripture.

Similarly, hermeneutics provides students with some objective controls for what the Bible can or cannot mean. Many people use the Bible to support or justify many different things. Without some basic skills in hermeneutics, students would have no way of determining if a particular interpretation of Scripture was right or wrong. By learning the skills of observation, students are better equipped to face and decipher between various interpretations of Scripture.

Finally, hermeneutics is important because it teaches students how to understand the Bible for themselves. Students are with us (and their parents) for a few short years. Then, they go off to college, get married, and find a career. Not every student will go into a Christian ministry or will even go to a Christian college. It is imperative that they learn the skills of properly understanding the Bible now, so that they have a foundation on which to build upon for the rest of their lives. It is hoped that our students will grow to love the Bible more as they grow in their knowledge of it, so that they become life-long students of Scripture.

“The Importance Of Hermeneutics” by James Frohlich

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