Keys to interpretation Keys to interpretation


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Keys to interpretation

The initial goal for getting involved with the Bible will for most readers initially be to achieve a correct understanding of what is written in the books of the Bible. Beyond that, Christians will have as their goal to adjust their life to the knowledge they have gained from the Scriptures and to adjust their daily walk of life accordingly. A correct understanding of the Bible is thus prerequisite for a truly Christian walk. Now then, how does one arrive at a correct understanding of that which is written in the Biblical Scriptures?

The understanding of a book or other piece of literature is achieved by reading and interpreting what one reads. There are generally valid and accepted principles and keys which enable a reader to correctly interpret and understand the contents of a written work. These keys are independent, both of the book as well as the reader. In other words, they apply to every reader and every written work. It is therefore decisive for a correct understanding of a written work whether or not the reader interprets what has been read in accordance with these generally valid principles and keys for a correct interpretation. When the text is read correctly and the principles for interpretation are correctly applies, a correct understanding of what is written in the Scriptures is achieved; if the text is read incorrectly and/or the generally valid keys for interpretation are wrongly applied or not utilized at all, then it follows logically that a wrong interpretation and susequently wrong understanding of that which is written follows.

It should be noted that what has been stated above applies to all works in wihch the author or writer has stated his opinion, will or matter clearly and unambiguously. The correct understanding of the reader will in such case always be that which the author understood and communicated in his words. The only exception are such works where an author on purpose and clearly has stated something in a way which encourages readers to give their own interpretation and thus to arrive at different undersrtandings. As far as the Biblical Scriptures are concerned, we have works which record and communicate information which is not aimed at readers arriving at different and possibly contradicting understandings.

Another very important matter in this context needs to be observed: One has to distinguish between (a) the correct "interpretation" necessary to arrive at a proper understanding, and (b) the then following or resulting "application" based on that which was correctly understood.