Messenger of the Lord


Section VI—How to Listen to the Messenger

Chapter 32—Hermeneutics-Part 1: Basic Principles

“God has spoken! But what has He said? Every utterance, every written document, demands interpretation. And the need increases in proportion to the distance the text stands in time and culture from our own.” 1 MOL 372.1

Hermeneutics is the science of interpreting literary documents. We use this term when we attempt to understand the writings of secular writers such as Homer, Plato, and Shakespeare, as well as inspired writers such as Moses, Paul, and Ellen White. Hermeneutical rules help us understand what writers meant by what they said. MOL 372.2

Ellen White noted the need for hermeneutics when she suggested, “Let us in imagination ... sit with the disciples” on the Mount of Blessing (Matthew 5). “Understanding what the words of Jesus meant to those who heard them, we may discern in them a new vividness and beauty, and may also gather for ourselves their deeper lessons.” 2 MOL 372.3