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RULES OF INTERPRETATION FOR THE NEW TESTAMENT.
I. There can be but one interpretation of a passage, genuine and correct. And this interpretation must elicit that sense from the words of the author, which, upon grammatical and historical grounds, can be shown, should be attributed to them, and which clearly conveys to the reader, the idea of the writer. From this remark, it follows, that the interpreter must have a two-fold duty to perform ; first, that he himself should properly understand the language, the ideas, and subject of his author ; and secondly, that he should correctly exhibit or explain all these to others. Hence Hermeneutics may be divided into two parts.
E. C. Westphal de genuina SS. interpretatione in Meditatt. phil. ct theol. argumenti. L. 1790. 8.
S. F. Winterberg Prol. de interpretatione unica, unica et certæ persuasionis de doctrinæ religionis veritate, et amicæ consensionis causa, in Commentt. theol. edd. a Velthusen. Kühnol. et Rup. T. IV.
J. A. Grosch d. de hermeneutice in omnibus disciplinis una eademque. Jen, 1756.
Sense is spoken of as certain, or doubtful ; proper or improper ; grammatical ; historical. Other divisions, which are not of much advantage, are mediate and immediate ; the mystical, allegorical, typical, parabolical, moral; natural, spiritual, supernatural, &c.
B. Groddeck d. de sensu Scr. S. Dant. 1752.
II. That the interpreter should properly perform both the offices specified above, it becomes him to approach his work, with a mind, not only imbued with the knowledge of the Greek and Eastern languages—of history and the laws of interpretationwith sound judgment and discernment—but he must avail himself of every subsidiary aid ; he must prosecute his work with diligence, accuracy and caution, and pursue his investigations, uninfluenced, either by his own previous opinions, or the opinions of others and he niust above all cherish a candid and pious state of feeling. It is necessay, therefore, that he should know, in the first place, both the primary and secondary meaning of words and secondly, the peculiar mode of writing, which distinguishes the N. T. authors-he should be able to decide how the true sense, is to be discovered, and understand the method of arguing and constructing their discourses, characteristic of the sacred writers.
J. F. Fischeri Prol. de linguæ gr. interiore scientia, interpretationis librorum N. T. adjumento maxime necessario. L. 1772.
C. G. Thalemani d. de sensu veri et falsi in interpret. librorum sacrorum L. 1776. 4.
J. C. Velthusen Pr. quo sensus veri et falsi commendatur monumenta religionis rite æstimaturis. Adjectæ sunt animadverss. criticæ potissimum ad archæologiam sacram, Helmst. 1781. 4.
Chr. Ben. Michaelis Diss. de modestia exegetica. Hal. 1751. 4.
Chr. Theoph. Kuinoel d. de subtilitate interpretationem grammaticam commendante. L. 1788. 4.
Subtilitatem interpretis N. T. in verborum notionibus ex contexta oratione definiendis commendat. J. Guil. Fuhrmann. Kil. 1778. 4.
Chr. Gfr. Richteri d. de libertate interpretandorum librorum divv. et. doctrinæ publicæ examinandæ admodum utili. Hal. 1783. 4.
J. B. Riederi d. de usu ingenii in interpretanda, SS. Alt. 1753. 4.
Chr. Fr. Roederi Comm. de ingenii usu et abusu circa interpretationem Scr. S. Torg. 1741.
J. H. Noelting d. de artis imaginandi ad SS. applicatione, Jen. 1758. 4.
J. Ge. Albrecht Pr. de interpretatione sacr. litt. vitio affectuum corrupta, Frf. ad m. 1747. 4.
S. F. N. Mori d. de discrimine sensus et significationis in interpretando. L. 1774. et in ejus diss. theol. et philoll. T. I.
Some have distinguished the qualifications of an interpreter of the N. T. into natural, acquired by human means ; and moral, derived from Divine assistance. See,
Carpzovii Primæ lineæ herm. p. 10. ss.
RULES AND HELPS FOR PROPERLY UNDESTANDING THE
ON THE SIGNIFICATION OF WORDS.
1. It is evident, that the first duty of an interpreter, is to investigate the signification of words, both singly and in their combinations. Here it should be kept in mind, that some words are used properly, others improperly ; some simply, others emphatically; some according to the usage of common life, others in a sense peculiar to the christian system. Therefore, the rules for investigating the signification of words, are either common and universal, or such as are applicable only to the language of the Sacre Writers.
I. The signification of single words, in a dead language, is to be learned,
a. In some instances, from the natural connexion between the word, and signification, óvouaTOTOINTIKá.
b. From etymology ; great caution, however, is requisite, in acting upon this rule, as the primary signification of a word, is frequently very different from its common meaning.
c. From analogy, as well of the language in question, as of others related to it.
d. From the usage of those writers, to whom the language was vernacular, or who lived during the period in which it was spoken.
e. From the explanations which the authors themselves, sometimes annex to the words they use.
f. From parallel passages, in which the same idea is expressed, either in different words, or more at length.
g. From the immediate context, where the word oc
h. From the design and subject of the writer.
k. From the grammatical remarks, the scholia, and glossaries of the ancients.
In these, are to be found especially, words of peculiar difficulty, words áraš asyoueva, nontonua, barbarous, synonymous, &c.
The significations of words, were at first simple, but gradually enlarging, the same word came to have various meanings, and numerous accessory ideas became connected with the primary signification.
These various significations should be reduced to their natural order, and not be unduly multiplied, as has been done by some Lexicographers-see,
S. F. N. Mori d. de nexu significationum ejusdem verbi. L. 1776. et in Diss. theoll. et phil. T. I. p. 394.
2. The signification of words in combination, or of phrases, may be, in general, learned,
a. From the nature of the combination, or connexion itself. It is, however, frequently the case, that usage has attached a different idea to a particular phrase ; from that, which its composition would seem to indicate.
And this usage
b. From the direct or indirect testimony of writers.
3. The signification of words and phrases, in the writings of the N. T., is to be particularly sought,
a. From the usage of the Greek language, as it existed after the time of Alexander the Great. And this may be learned from the fragments which remain of the dramatic writers of that period ; from the works of Polybius, Diodorus Siculus, Arrian, and others of the same age.
b. From the Hebrew or Syrochaldaic, whence, in some instances, words have been derived, and in others, used in senses conformed to the Hebrew usage.
Mart. Pet. Cheitomaei Græco. barbara N. T. quæ orienti originem debert. Amst. 1649.
To this purpose, the books of the 0.T., the Talmudical and Rabbinical writings, and works in the Syriac, Arabic, &c. have been advantageously applied. See,
Michaelis' Introduction, VI. Haenlein Einl. I. Ammon. ad Ern. Inst. Int. p. 67. The works of Vorstius and Leusden quoted abovc, and J. G. TIerder Erläuterungen zum N. T. aus einer neu eröfneten oriental. Quelle, 1775. 4.
C. From the style of those Jews, who, during this period used the Greek language. The Greek versions of the 0. T., the apocryphal books, and the works of Josephus and Philo, are particularly worthy of attention.
Chr. Fr. Schmidt. Diss. II. versionem Alex. optimum interpretationis, LL. SS. presidium esse, L. 1763. 4.
J. F. Fischeri Proluss. de verss. græcis litterarum hebrr. magistris, L. 1772. 8.
G. J. Henkiï d. de usu librorum apocr. V. T. in N. T. Hal. 1711.
b. From the character of the christian system, whence certain words derived a signification more or less extensive, which they retained constantly or only under peculiar circumstances.
That this may be properly understood, the usus loquen