Neil W. Aguiar

“A most excellent introduction”

What I mean by this first statement is that while I was reading the introduction, I felt a sense of welcome and encouragement; an invitation of sorts to open my mind and thoughts to new ideas to help me grasp the fullness of the Bible.  As Fee & Stuart state, “the Bible is at the same time both human and divine” so as to say, it is as God intends in its fullness, creativity and variety of writings.  I find it beautiful how God utilizes his very creation (mankind) to deliver to us the words that describe the fullness of who He is and His intentions for our lives.  We are so blessed to have such a book and I am humbled to live in a time and a country where we can freely discover its meaning and incorporate its principles into the essence of our being and our lives.

The meaning of “good interpretation” as to get at the “plain meaning of the text” clearly explores the full avenue upon which a person receives meaning from words; especially words written in multiple languages by people from multiple cultures and historical times.  If I were to illustrate this, it would look something like this:

Original author --> Bible (original text) --> Bible (translated text) --> Reader

Each of these steps involves a person, culture, language, circumstances and intent.  It involves experiences, bias, education and opinions.  Not all of these can be discerned at each step nor should they be.  As Fee & Stuart suggest, a good interpretation is “based on commonsense guidelines”.  And the better this principle is applied in the translation, the better the reader can get at the plain meaning of the text.

The first task of interpreting the Bible, exegesis was described in great detail and I am very thankful for Fee & Stuart’s full meaning explanation.  In addition, I needed to look up the pronunciation of the term in Webster’s dictionary; eggs-za-gee-seas.  Fee & Stuart clearly describe the critical importance of discovering the original, intended meaning of the text of the Bible as the original recipients would have received it and using this avenue is the “first step in reading EVERY text”.  I agree.  How could anyone expect to receive the fullness of the text unless they have some understanding of how the text was written (literary context) and when it was written, by whom and for whom (historical context).  Lastly, the content of the text, the meaning of the words, phrases and sentences, is what Fee & Stuart explain as the “questions of meaning that people ordinarily ask of the biblical text”.  However, to explore the content without first gaining some understanding of the context could be futile or misleading.  So the point is clearly made for the importance of gaining the “plain meaning” of the text through good exegesis using tools like good Bible translations, Bible dictionaries and commentaries.  Of course, that leaves for exploring what qualifies as ‘good’.

Fee & Stuart explain the second task of interpreting the Bible as hermeneutics; described as “seeking the contemporary relevance of ancient texts”.  At this step, we begin to ask the question ‘what does this passage mean in today’s day and age?’.  Fee & Stuart clearly warn of the danger of starting with hermeneutics and making one’s own conclusions based on one’s best guess or hypothetical viewpoint.  While some people can have a profound understanding of the meaning of some biblical text without necessarily incorporating the exegetical piece, this is not an effective way of studying the Bible since it will lead to numerous opposing meanings.  If we are to be one Church as God calls us to be in Matthew 16:18, we should focus on the very meaning God intends for His Word.  This should not be a singular or opposing effort but rather an encompassing one.  Let us embrace God’s Word in its fullness and truth, just as we embrace Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.

Lastly, it is clear that we will never understand every aspect of every text that is written in the Bible.  But that does not excuse us from diligently pursuing its fullness and meaning and incorporating all of God’s principles into our lives.  God calls us to do that very thing in Psalm 119:9-16.  

Neil W. Aguiar  (2/12/2010)


Pastor Joe
02/25/2010 09:38

good reflections, Neil, just wanted you to know that i am engaging in your studies. This could be a good journey for me to clear the cobwebs of my theological thinking.

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