Experiencing Scripture: a qualitative study of the impact of a twelve week course on the art and science of biblical interpretation
For this project I developed a course of study to train church members in the basic skills of hermeneutics as well as teach background material on the canon, the text of the Old and New Testaments, and strengths and weaknesses of different Bible translations. I also included several issues that are specific to the Reformed tradition, such as the relationship between the Old and New Testaments vis-à-vis dispensationalism. The specific purpose of this study was to discover how a twelve week course on hermeneutics can influence the level of confidence with which a person in the class interprets and applies the Scriptures to his or her own life. After teaching the course to twenty church members I interviewed six of them. Though most students had heard of the "Rule of Context" few knew how to apply it. They found the course very helpful on this point. The course also increased their ability to identify major biblical themes, increased their confidence in interpreting the Scriptures and hearing God speak to them concretely through Scripture, as well as their ability to identify mistakes others make in interpretation. Understanding the rules of genre was especially helpful to them. Further study is needed in two areas: First, in the relationship between the historical development of church doctrine and the discipline of hermeneutics. Second, in understanding the role of the Holy Spirit in the process of interpretation and application.