Hermeneutics and theology are two similar yet different disciplines of study. Hermeneutics deals with interpreting texts, while theology is the study of God and his nature. This article will explore the difference between hermeneutics and theology in more detail.
What is Hermeneutics?
Hermeneutics is concerned with the interpretation of texts, especially sacred texts. It encompasses a wide range of strategies for interpreting texts. These strategies include determining the author’s purpose in writing a text and deciphering the intended message to the audience. Hermeneutics is not limited to religious writings but is also used in literature to study texts. Hermeneutics is used to interpret texts that are difficult to understand. This may involve trying to understand a surface meaning or uncover a hidden meaning. For example, Jesus used parables to teach his followers. Therefore, the parable must be interpreted in light of the circumstances in which it was spoken and Jesus’s purpose in telling a particular story.
Who is the Father of Hermeneutics?
Friedrich Schleiermacher is considered the father of hermeneutics [source].
What is Theology?
The word “theology” comes from the two Greek words “theos,” meaning “God,” and “logos,” meaning “word.” Such a foundation shows that theology and the Word of God cannot be separated.
Theology is the “study of the nature of God and religious faith” [source]. According to Wikipedia, theology is the “systematic study of the nature of the divine and, by extension, of religious faith” [source]. Other definitions closely link theology to understanding religious aspects, especially those related to Christian beliefs such as the Bible and creeds. A contemporary definition of theology would seek to explain it in terms of examining the true meaning of Christianity in our modern world.
Theology is studied in universities as a distinct discipline. Those who study theology eventually become founders of church denominations or analysts of religious beliefs, or simply Christian apologetics. Most well-known pastors, prophets, and evangelists have studied theology. Some have claimed that a theology degree improves Bible knowledge. A common theory is that a person who studies theology is interested in learning more about God and His influence on humanity while fully understanding the subject of life after death.
Difference between Hermeneutics and Theology
The difference between hermeneutics and theology is that theology is a course of study that can be studied at the college level or at an educational institution. In contrast, hermeneutics can only be studied in the context of interpreting texts. In theology, one studies the Bible and deepens one’s knowledge of the so-called “good book.” However, the study of hermeneutics means acquiring the ability to interpret the Bible and fully understand its original meaning for its original audience. Theology enables individuals to understand the Word of God, while hermeneutics enriches the appreciation of all holy books, including the Bible and the Qur’an. In terms of usage, theology is more associated with Christianity. It is associated with a personal relationship with God through studying his word.
On the other hand, hermeneutics is broad and includes all the sacred texts of religions such as Islam and Hinduism. This means that hermeneutics has a religious perspective, while theology has a Christian perspective. Hermeneutics as an interpretive tool can also be used in other non-religious fields such as literature and all other written works of art. Theology cannot be used in other fields and is limited to a Christian-dominated environment. This might give the impression that theology selects only believers, especially in Christianity. Hermeneutics can be used by anyone, including atheists interested in deciphering certain texts.
Similarities between Hermeneutics and Theology
Hermeneutics and theology are branches that study the word of God. Moreover, hermeneutics and theology are used by people interested in understanding Christianity’s rules and regulations. They unlock the true meaning of God’s words and can improve one’s relationship with God. Both concepts are beneficial in deciphering the Scriptures and understanding the holy book.
What are the 4 Rules of Hermeneutics?
The 4 rules of hermeneutics refer to how one should go about the process of interpreting a particular text. The rules are embedded in the following steps for obtaining the desired meaning:
- Finding out the author’s original intention who wrote the text for his original audience.
- Discovering the meaning as it was understood by the original audience in its original context
- All of this should be accomplished by carefully observing the text in its historical, grammatical, linguistic, rhetorical, contextual, and canonical settings.
- Analysis of a text in its entirety
Is Hermeneutics Part of Theology?
A connection can be made between hermeneutics and theology since both deal with the Bible, considered God’s Word. Hermeneutics and theology work hand in hand to enable people to understand the biblical scriptures fully. This means that hermeneutics can be part of theology, especially for those who study theology. They can interpret the Bible according to the rules of hermeneutics. However, this does not mean that hermeneutics falls entirely under theology. It is also used in literature and in studying other sacred texts such as the Quran. Thus, it is not limited only to theological aspects.
What is another Word for Hermeneutics?
Another word for hermeneutics is exegesis, defined as “the science of interpretation, especially of the Scriptures” [source].
What is Biblical Expository Preaching?
Biblical expository preaching is a “form of preaching that explains in detail the meaning of a particular text or passage of Scripture. It explains what the Bible means by what it says”. The word “expository” is derived from “exposition,” which means ” to set forth.” In this context, then, the goal of the preacher is to effectively expound the meaning of a Bible verse or chapter [source].
This preaching aims to present the meaning and intent of a biblical text. It also includes commentary and examples that enhance the listener’s understanding of the biblical text.