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LAURENCE'S CRITICAL REMARKS ON THE UNITARIAN
VERSION OF THE N. T.

566

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OUTLINES

OF

HERMENEUTICS.

SECTION I.

ON THE INTERPRETATION OF THE NEW TESTAMENT AND ITS HISTORY.

I. THE art of interpreting the Sacred Writings, supposes the faculty, improved by cultivation and exercise, of discovering and exhibiting that sense, which the Sacred writers themselves attached to the words they used. The same rules, which regulate the explanation of other documents, are of authority in reference to the Scriptures: these rules, it is the business of Criticism and Hermeneutics to exhibit. Hence, Sacred Criticism, and Sacred Hermeneutics, demand our attention. The utility of attending to these subjects is the greater, because, from various causes, the interpretation of the sacred writings, is peculiarly difficult, and errors, are here more frequently committed, than in the exposition of other works.

Gelbricht. Comm. qua docetur, interpretationem librorum divinorum ab interpretatione librorum humanorum nihil differre. Cizæ, 1774.

Jo. Asboth Comm. de interpretatione codicis sacri, ad communia om

B

nes libros interpretandi principia revocata, præmio ab ord. Theol. Gott ornata. Gott. 1791.

Guil. Nic. Freudentheil Comm. de codice sacro more in reliquis antiquitatis libris solemni ingenue interpretando, adjectis difficultalibus N. T. propriis. Chemn. 1791.

May there not, however, be rules of interpretation, applicable to other books, which, in the New Testament, have no authority? and may it not be properly enquired, what influence the inspiration of the New Testament should have upon this subject?

The earlier commentaries on the interpretation of the New Testament, taught that the sense was to be determined by the opinions of the ancient writers, from the judgment of the church-from a certain internal sense-from the analogy of faith-and from the formularies of Philosophy. Those of a later date, lay more stress upon the dic

tates of reason.

Hermeneutics, in an extensive sense, includes Criticism, and is distinguished from Exegesis. The science of interpreting the Sacred Writings, belongs to what is called special Hermeneutics. Attention, therefore, to this subject, presupposes a knowledge of the rules of universal Hermeneutics, which prescribe the method of investigating the signification of words and modes of expressiondetermining the sense of every passage-estimating and explaining the sentiment, &c. The Hermeneutics of the Bible has two parts, the one general, the other special.

On the causes of the difficulty of the interpretation of the SS., see

J. S. Ernesti d. de difficultatibus N. T. recte interpretandi 1755. Opp Critt. et Phill.

The following writers have, more or less extensively, treated the subject of sacred Hermeneutics.

J. S. Semler Vorbereitung zur Theolog. Hermeneutik, Halle 1760-69 J. Gottlieb Toellner Grundriss einer erwiesenen Hermeneutik des N. T. Zuell. 1765,

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