The Hermaneutical Circle

Your response to the title of this post might be “The What?” since hermaneutics is not a word that is used very much outside of Bible colleges and seminaries.  The hermaneutical circle is a Bible study method that I was introduced to over twenty years ago which I consider to be worth sharing.

Basically, it states that our study of Scripture goes through a cycle with four stages.

1.  Read and study the scripture.

2.  Formulate an understanding of the scripture.

3.  Experience life.

4.  Reflect on how your understanding of scripture fits your life experiences.

Repeat the process. 

Now you might say that our life experiences should not affect our interpretation of scripture.  What I am saying is that our experiences can cause us to reevaluate our understanding of scripture.  Sometimes we will modify what we believe and sometimes we will not.  The constant process of study, formulation, experience and reflection will cause us to refine and substantiate those things that we hold to be true.  It is a lifelong process which partly reflects the ongoing transformational work of God in our lives.

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6 Responses to “The Hermaneutical Circle”

  1. pprmint777 Says:

    Lifelong process is right! Even the verse you’ve loved throughout your life changes meaning as you age.

    Great post!

    ~~~ppr (I found you through my tagsurfer)

  2. cgirod Says:

    ppr, thank you for your comment.

  3. davehess Says:

    Good thoughts. I think your list is helpful. … However, might I suggest that a hermeneutical “spiral” would be an even more helpful analogy than a circle. Hopefully through the process of Bible study, living life and reflection some forward-progress is happening not merely going around and around in circles.) 🙂

  4. cgirod Says:

    dave, thank you for your thoughts. I agree, hopefully growth is taking place in our lives.

  5. a reader Says:

    My fellow on Orkut shared this link and I’m not dissapointed that I came here.

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