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The Steps of the Interpretive Journey

September 03, 2012

Submitted to Professor R. Peter Mason (LUO), for class BIBL 350 (Inductive Bible Study). All work is author's original work, minus the quotations. If you want to use this work, please cite it properly. Thank you.



The interpretive journey is a five-step process, of diving into Scripture, in order to find out what the text is actually saying and what is the "real-life" application. This article will explain in brief detail the process.

The first step in understanding the Word of God is grasping the text in their town. This simply means to understand what was written and how it was written, at first glance. In addition, one must look for significant words, historical and literary contexts. After this portion of the study is complete, it is time to combine these meanings into basic sentences about what this passage, actually, meant to the biblical audience. By understanding, the passage of scripture, for the audience for which it was written, we could begin to understand the basics and move forward to understanding the differences between biblical times and current times, which will help us be able to apply what God has said.

Step two of the interpretive journey is measuring the width of the river to cross. This is a word picture meaning that in order to understand and apply a particular passage of scripture, we must find the differences between their time and ours. These differences are, but not limited to, the culture of the times, the situation, and languages. The biggest difference between the New and Old Testaments is the covenant. This is also something one must look at when examining the width of the river. Depending on the passage, it may be easy to understand and cross from biblical times to ours; it may not be as easy, but through the study and prayer God will always show us what He wants us to know.

Step three of the Interpretive Journey is usually the hardest because the theological principle(s) needs to be addressed. These principles are reflected in the meaning of the text in step one. We are to discover meaning through specific expressions and specific audiences that God provides. During this step, we need to try to find any similarities between their town and ours. Once the principles are found, they need to be written out. By writing them out, it makes it easier to understand. The book describes theological principles as the same thing as the "theological message" or the "main theological point" of the passage. This is important for the application portion. How can one apply what is learned in scripture if there is no message found? That is why this step is very important to the Interpretive Journey.

The biblical map is consulted during this step. Once the theological principles are found, in step 3, the next step is to dive into scripture and compare the text. We must find out if the principle found, aligns with the rest of scripture. We must understand the other portions of Scripture that either adds insight or qualification to the text being studied. If the principle is correct, then it will fit in with the rest of the Bible.

After understanding the scripture in their town, measuring the width of the river, crossing over the bridge, and looking at the Biblical map, we must now apply the text. This brings us to step 5, grasping the text in our town. This means we must apply the text and what was learned in the previous four steps to our lives [in modern times]. How do the theological principles fit into real-life situations? There are numerous potential applications. If the principle is applied to a situation, it must be soundly based on doctrine. Not everybody will understand or grasp/apply the same application in the same way. Just as personalities differ, so does the application process. I believe this is the most challenging step because application is a matter of wanting to live for God. Sometimes when things are not going the right way, in our minds, we do not think about Scripture, but the truth is we need to apply Scripture daily and in everything we do, if we are going to truly be Christ-like.

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