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Just wondering if those who have tried to analyze the way Jesus explained the Hebrew Scriptures, do they consider Jesus’ approach primarily exegetical (what the passage said) or hermeneutical (what it meant)?

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closed as too broad by Davïd, Susan, Paul Vargas, Caleb Jun 21 '14 at 13:46

There are either too many possible answers, or good answers would be too long for this format. Please add details to narrow the answer set or to isolate an issue that can be answered in a few paragraphs.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Tertium datur? Perhaps there is a third way of approach? – hannes Jul 24 '13 at 7:29
Matthew 13:34 He spoke parables so that not everybody would understand what He really meant. He was not speaking literally. – jsherk Sep 4 '13 at 12:14
Just a rational for my "vote to close": an interesting question, but would be more profitable if attached to a particular instance. As it is, books have been written on this.... – Davïd Jun 20 '14 at 21:45

If we take the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) as an example, Jesus frequently took statements, some from the Hebrew scriptures, and some from Jewish traditions, and then upped the ante by giving his own moral standards.

This involved exegesis as the meaning of those statements is important - reading always involved exegesis. The exegesis isn't however very prominent, probably for a few reasons: the statements are on the whole quite simple, and he knew Hebrew fluently. (One of the reasons why exegesis is important for us is that none of us are truly fluent in the Biblical languages, or if we work from translations, all the translations are imperfect in places.)

Secondly he explain how the individual statements fit into the larger thought structures of the whole scriptures. Some were taking the statement "love your neighbour" to imply "hate your enemy", but Jesus corrected that as not fitting in with the whole message of the OT. I think this could reasonably be called hermeneutics.

But fundamentally, what Jesus is really doing is revealing truth from God. (Or at least that's what Christians believe.) Hebrews 1:2 says that "in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son." Yes Jesus interpreted the existing scriptures, but often he was speaking new words (which would later be inscripturated.) The Sermon on the Mount is not so much a commentary on Old Testament Law as much as it is a revelation of a new Law, the Law of Jesus.

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+1. I think you hit some of the major points that needs highlighting to begin to even think of a descent answer to this. The same ideas apply to the Epistles. – Mike Oct 9 '13 at 6:22

I would say he followed neither approach. It was not his aim to teach scripture. He knew and understood, he lived by it. He was the epitome of scripture.

'In him was life. And the life was the light of mankind.'

Enlightening was what he did, for the ones coming to the light, he was the bright light.

The spirit of God is his, and is life. By his words and by his deeds he exegeted the Father. Through his knowing of man and with his life for them he hermeneued the spirit.

Regarding the Law and the Prophets and Psalms and life he was taught and was learned more than anyone else. He knew it. And he was so that all should know and become like he is.

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I would say that it was not necessary for Jesus to exegete a passage as he already knew the meaning of the text. Therefore, His approach was to develop the meaning. So it was quite within His reach to explain the Parable of the Sower at Mt. 13:37-43.

However, no other man can claim to know the meaning of a passage (even given the help of the Holy Ghost) without first an exegetical approach. It would seem arrogant of mere man to stumble over the meaning of words to arrive at the "meaning." Paul under inspiration makes this point at Gal 3:16 by pointing out the precision of "seed" not "seeds" to those who apparently thought they understood the meaning.

I believe individual words determine the meaning, not the other way around.

Clearly, Jesus should not be held up as the standard for us in this matter if that was your point.

Interesting question, thank you very much.

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To follow up my earlier comment. When Christ spoke, he spoke with all the authority of a Prophet. Now I am not trying to limit him to a mere human prophet, but oviously there was this little matter of the kenosis. In other words, He did not exegete a passage to determine its meaning because He was delivering inspired words given from the Father.

Deuteronomy 18:18 I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. 19 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.

John 3:34 For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him.

It would not make sense for Him to parse OT words or meaning when God was inspiring Him.

Respectfully submitted.

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