Hermeneutics and homiletics are two important concepts that religious believers have used throughout history to understand their sacred texts better. Hermeneutics is interpreting a text, while homiletics is the process of delivering a sermon. This will explore the difference between these hermeneutics and homiletics and discuss how they can be used together to provide a more in-depth understanding of the religious text.
What is Hermeneutics?
Hermeneutics is a term used when discussing interpreting or decoding a certain scripture or text. In its original usage, hermeneutics was an interpretation tool popular among Jews, Christians, and Muslims who find it helpful in understanding their sacred texts.
Hermeneutics is defined as more than simply interpretative principles or techniques, and it’s employed when meaning isn’t obvious on the surface but requires an in-depth explanation of the content of a text. [Source]. An example of hermeneutics principles is how we can study the Bible using a literal interpretation (states that bible contents must be read considering the authors’ intention), moral interpretation (which focuses on drawing out ethical teachings), allegorical interpretation (which argues that there are other external factors to consider rather than what is mentioned in the Bible) and anagogical or mystical interpretation ( which argues that the bible forecasts events to come) [Source].
Throughout history, people have been divided on the true meaning and intention of many biblical verses, causing many factions within the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim communities. Hermeneutics tries to address such difficulties by providing a variety of interpreting techniques. Literature departments and writers have also embraced the practice of hermeneutics when attempting to make sense of complex work.
What is Homiletics?
Homiletics is the art of preaching or writing sermons. [Source]. It refers to applying general principles to the specific art of public speaking. [Source]. A person who practices or studies homiletics is referred to as a homilist or a preacher.
The term homiletics comes from ‘homily,’ which means ‘a sermon’ [Source]. Other analysts trace the term from the Greek word ‘homileticos,’ which means the act of gathering or assembling. It was also derived from the Greek word ‘homilia,’ which is ‘discourse.’ It is explained as the art of preparing sermons and preaching. People who study homiletics are usually interested in improving their skills when delivering the gospel and other biblical sermons. Homiletics is categorized under pastoral or practical theology since it focuses on the biblical side of things. The original usage of homiletics was inclined toward integrating biblical teachings and rhetoric. In these cases, rhetoric points to the art of speaking persuasively or for the desired effect.
Homiletics is the study of preaching sermons. The term is typically used to designate methods of preaching, although it may also be used in any context where a discussion about religion occurs. In Christian teaching, homiletics is the art or technique of employing various rhetorical tools to instruct the flock. It also includes the research, outlining, and general preparation for a sermon. [Source].
When one is preparing a sermon using homiletics, these three guidelines must be considered:
- Is it adequately and meaningfully communicating the text’s historical meaning, purpose, intent, and significance to your immediate audience?
- Is it applicable to your current audience in their immediate context?
- Does it address the current issues that your audience is dealing with and offers guidance found through hermeneutics?
After delivering a sermon, both the preacher and the congregation should benefit by enhancing their relationship with God.
Difference between Hermeneutics and Homiletics
The difference between hermeneutics and homiletics is that “homiletics is the art of preaching (especially the application of rhetoric in theology)” while hermeneutics is the “study or theory of the methodical interpretation of the text, especially holy texts” [Source].
Also, hermeneutics is “discovering the voice of God from the pages of the Bible through faithful labor by accurate interpretation of the biblical text,” while homiletics is “teaching a biblical text in a manner that our audiences may also hear the voice of God discovered through hermeneutics” [Source].
Hermeneutics interprets biblical texts, and homiletics is useful in preparing a biblical sermon from religious texts. Homiletics aims to satisfy and convince people by preaching, but hermeneutics seeks to satisfy believers by decoding biblical scriptures.
Similarities between Hermeneutics and Homiletics
The similarity between hermeneutics and homiletics is that they are essential when handling religious texts. Hermeneutics helps understand a text, while homiletics aids in preaching or delivering a sermon. Hermeneutics is the theory, and Homiletics is the practice. Hermeneutics is like the foundation that supports homiletics which is the application.
Another similarity between the two is that they both use interpretation. Hermeneutics interprets texts, while homiletics interprets texts to be used in sermons or speeches. Hermeneutics is the process of interpretation, while homiletics is the application of that interpretation.
Also, Hermeneutics is about deriving the meaning of the text, while homiletics entails taking that meaning and crafting a message from it. Hermeneutics is the what, and homiletics is the how [Source]. Hermeneutics answers the question of what the Bible says, while homiletics answers the question of how to preach or communicate what the Bible says.
Hermeneutics and homiletics are complementary tools. Hermeneutics without homiletics runs the risk of being academic and theoretical. Homiletics without hermeneutics runs the risk of being irrelevant and superficial. Hermeneutics provides substance and depth, while homiletics provides context and relevance. Hermeneutics is the science of interpretation, while homiletics is the art of communication.
Importance of Hermeneutics
The importance of hermeneutics is that it is an interpretation manual that can be used by people in decoding holy texts. It offers an in-depth analysis of holy texts by revealing hidden truths and authors’ intentions when they penned down biblical scriptures. Both Christians and Jews have significantly benefited from hermeneutics as these believers are interested in fully understanding religious books.
Examples of Homiletics
There are two forms of homiletics which include evangelistic (preaching the gospel to those who are not Christians) and pastoral (teaching those who have the Spirit of God in them) [Source]. Evangelistic preaching uses bible verses such as Acts chapter 17 verse 22-31. Paul was addressing pagan God worshipping on Mars Hill. Pastoral preaching can be seen in Christ’s discourses with his disciples during and after Passover in John chapters 13-16.