"If any man speak, let him
Speak As
The Oracles
of God..." (I Peter 4:11)
Principles of BIBLICAL
INTERPRETATION
(Adapted from A. Campbell)
RULE 1.

"Consider first the historical circumstances of the book. These are the order, the title, the
author, the date, the place, and the occasion of it."
 Where is the book found in the Bible and
in the chronological order of the Bible? What does the title of the book say concerning the aim of
the book? Who is the author? Is he a prophet or apostle? What is his occupation? Where was
the book written?

RULE 2.

"Observe who it is that speaks, and under what dispensation he speaks ... Consider also the
persons addressed, their prejudice, character, and religious relations."
 Is the one who is
speaking a patriarch, a Jew, a Christian, or an infidel? Is it spoken to one under the Patriarchal,
Mosaic, or Christian dispensation?

RULE 3.

"The same philological principles, deduced from the nature of language, or the same laws of
interpretation which are applied to the language of the Bible."
 Don't make special rules to
interpret the Bible! Use the same ones you use for any piece of literature. There is both literal
and figurative language found in the Scriptures. Use the same rules to determine which it is in
the Bible as in any other work.

RULE 4.

"Common usage, which can only be ascertained by testimony must always decide
themeaning of any word which has but one signification; but when words have ... more
meanings than one, whether literal or figurative, the scope, the context, or parallel passages
must decide the meaning."
 Use a dictionary or lexicon to determine the true meaning of words,
don't make up your own meaning. If more than one definition is found, allow the surrounding
verses and passages which speak of the same things determine which definition is
appropriate.

RULE 5.

"In all tropical language ascertain the point of resemblance, and judge the nature of the
trope, and its kind, from the point of resemblance ..."
 Use common sense when dealing with
figurative language. Don't take the figure further than it naturally goes.

RULE 6.

"In the interpretation of symbols, types, allegories, and parables, this rule is supreme --
Ascertain the point to be illustrated, for comparison is never to be extended beyond the
point -- to all the attributes, qualities, or circumstances of the symbol, type, allegory, or
parable."
 These illustrations are good only for the main point being made; there are not a
number of minor hidden points to be made.

RULE 7.

"We must come within understanding distance."  There must be a desire to understand the
Scriptures.
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