Objective Hermeneutics Required!

For those of you who have studied linguistics out there, I read quite the article today in an issue of Masters Seminary Journal. Wow.

It was entitled: “Modern Linguistics Versus Traditional Hermeneutics” by Robert L. Thomas.

I won’t reproduce the entire article here, but I would like to put up his final chart, showing his conclusions regarding the “problems and dangers” of Modern Linguistic study. If anything, Dr. Thomas has missed a couple points.

He thoroughly attacked Max Turner, Chris Tilling’s doctoral supervisor (the mind behind the brilliant “Pimp my Liturgy”).

Or I should say, Thomas didn’t exactly attack Turner…it was more like, well, that he quoted Cotterell and Turner’s Linguistics and Biblical Interpretation (Amazon) and then would misconstrue the statement, and then rant about the evils of since it clearly contradicts Milton Terry’s Biblical Hermeneutics: A Treatise on the Interpretation of the Old and New Testaments If you click on this particular title, you’ll see that this book was written…

…drum roll please…


All I can say is, “Wow.”

Here’s the summarizing chart comparing “Modern Linguistics Versus Traditional Hermeneutics.”

Now if only I had one of those Karl Barth dancing like MC Hammer gifs…

Summary of Modern Linguistics Versus Traditional Hermeneutics

Modern Linguistics



  • divine inspiration

  • importance of context

  • lexicography (partial agreement)

  • grammatical analysis (partial agreement)

  • historical-cultural background

  • possible supplement to g.-h.

  • divine inspiration

  • importance of context

  • lexicography (partial agreement)

  • grammatical analysis (partial agreement)

  • historical-cultural background


  • preunderstanding, starting point:

  • biblical languages not unique

  • integration with general revelation

  • impossibility of absolute certainty

  • objectivism, starting point:

  • uniqueness of Bible languages

  • prefer special revelation

  • yields propositional truth


  • inspiration does not matter

  • diachronics minimized

  • words cannot denote concepts

  • substitution of synonyms permissible

  • grammatical relationships not unique

  • authorial intention evasive

  • uncertainty and imprecision

  • subjective meaning from discourse

  • redundancy, ambiguity, and vagueness

  • literal and figurative not distinguished

  • inspiration does matter

  • diachronics equal to synchronics

  • words can denote concepts

  • substitution of synonyms not permissible

  • grammatical relationships unique

  • authorial intention available

  • certainty and precision

  • objective meaning from details

  • single meaning and clarity

  • literal and figurative distinct

3 thoughts on “Objective Hermeneutics Required!

  1. Some of the more liberal seminaries have forgotten or rejected traditional hermeneutics for modern linguistics. It’s not surprising that many pastors today deny inspiration of scripture. They only read the bible as pure literature. However, that is making a generalization. There are some liberal theologians who do acknowledge inspiration of scripture but in their practice, they teach it as pure literature. Sometimes, I don’t understand.

  2. well, that’s true, Kevin, but my point was more that modern and linguistics and traditional hermeneutics are not actually in opposition to each other at all. Its amazing to me that Thomas can create such a dichotomy where one does not exist.

    Its also amazing that he thinkgs Terry’s hermeneutical method is objective.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s