This is NOT a duplicate question. Though there are many who claim to read the Sensus Plenior of scripture, most produce nothing more than tired free-for-all allegory. The rules have been stated elsewhere. Strict Rules for Sensus Plenior - which is mistakenly identified as being duplicate.

What are some practical methods for unpacking it?

The Rules mentioned above can be used to validate a proposed SP solution after the fact. This question concerns the methods which can be taught and learned, to do the actual unpacking.

Sensus plenior suggests that there is a second meaning to scripture. What are the methods to tease the missing information from the same text as the literal. Sensus plenior suggests that the genre of the Bible is intentional double-entendre; which we know from other languages is built on the attribute of language, that words have more than one meaning.

How would one approach the book of Ruth, for instance, to unpack it, which would be the same approach used to unpack a single verse such as Gen 2:21.

Such methods should be able to be discerned as having plausibly been used by NT authors, since the proposition of SP is that their writings are the SP commentary on the OT.

This question is not seeking the rules as mentioned above, but particular methods. For instance:

Eliezer's rules 8, 10, 17, 21, 22, 23, 27, 31, and 32 can be simplified by the analogy of transparencies; all verses which appear to speak of the same thing are collected and laid on top of each other as one picture. The differences elucidate the topic.

Notarikon is the ancient practice of finding the essential meaning, German Gestalt, or Greek ideal metaphor of the word. Sensus plenior is specifically looking for the 'deeper' meaning, so notarikon is used to find the source idea for the word.

Gezerah shawah (analogy) Eliezer's rule 7 defines the use of analogy, synonyms, homonyms and puns. How better to unpack riddles than to use this ancient practice?

Ribbuy: The old rabbi explains how the use of the particles “et” את, “gam” גם, and “af” אף, which are superfluous, imply that something more is included. From this he says that Cain had a twin sister, and Abel was a triplet.

I would hope a answers would have an ancient source, either directly, as from Rabbi Eliezer, or by demonstrable inference in NT author's usage.

Though Eliezer may be unfamiliar by name, many expositors use his rule: When two Biblical passages contradict each other the contradiction in question must be solved by reference to a third passage.

Some abuse notarikon saying "Justified" means "Just as if I'd" never done it.

  • 1
    Without a specific Bible reference to analyse, I am not sure this is the correct place to answer this question. I suggest it should be migrated to Christianity SX.
    – Dottard
    Apr 1, 2020 at 3:01
  • hermeneutics - The theory and methodology of interpretation, especially of scriptural text. MOST questions here are concerned with exegesis; handling a specific text. This question concerns hermeneutics directly.
    – Bob Jones
    Apr 1, 2020 at 10:18
  • 2
    Your question appears to have been answered in the previous question which you quote What are the Strict Set of Rules . . . etc.
    – Nigel J
    Apr 1, 2020 at 10:38
  • Doesn't one need to first settle on the definition before working on the methods to unpack? Apr 1, 2020 at 15:14
  • No. Nothing is settled in theology, why would you impose that burden here? I will be using the same definition that has been in use here for 8 years or so. If someone has another definition and would like to share how they unpack it, their answer is welcome. This is not a discussion and debate forum. It is a Q&A forum. There has been enough interest shown in the subject to flush it out more here.
    – Bob Jones
    Apr 1, 2020 at 16:27

1 Answer 1


This may sound like an oversimplification but it's how my simple mind works. These are the steps that I believe are necessary for SP. All of this is to be done in Love for Christ our Savior and Love for our neighbor.

  1. You MUST be a born-again Christian so you are filled with the Holy Spirit because the Holy Spirit leads us and guides us and teaches us into all truths. Without the Holy Spirit, SP is futile.
  2. You MUST know the Entire Bible. This does not mean completely, word for word, but you must have an Excellent working knowledge of the entire Bible. This is so that the Holy Spirit may bring to remembrance the things you have read (and heard from other preachers) so that you may bring things together for teaching etc. The Bible is a complete package. Reading through the entire Bible approximately four times a year would be a good start. This doesn't include your personal study time. You should have read through the entire Bible at least as many times as you are in years of age. That's a minimum.
  3. From #2 you MUST have an Exceptional understanding of the Basic doctrines of the Christian Faith. This is foundational/fundamental to everything else that follows in determining the meaning of a text of scripture. This is where I believe most people make their biggest mistakes in determining the truth/meaning/purpose/application of a text. If your understanding of doctrine is wrong, everything that follows will be wrong. It appears from interactions with so many laymen that they haven't taken the time to study doctrine. The Bible IS doctrine.
  4. You MUST be in constant/continuous PRAYER about what it is that God wants to reveal to you so as to be able to share/teach others. This is the most important step, but it cannot be separated from the other steps. All steps are vital like links in a chain. One weak link makes the ENTIRE chain weak. It is true that a chain is only as strong as it's weakest link. We Must know our weaknesses. My weak area is Biblical languages and so I spend hours studying multiple Biblical language resources.
  5. A generalized knowledge of the original languages is extremely advantageous. Books like "Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary," "The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology", Ed. Brown (my favorite) help immensely. Brown's includes the Old Testament. There are awesome internet resources.
  6. A humble character is vital so as to allow that it is not of me but of Christ by which any truths are revealed to me. I take no credit for any "truths" I may be able to share for it is only by Christ who works in me. It is not by any righteousness in me that God chooses to use me. God makes me righteous. He has chosen me regardless of my (daily) sinful nature, drawing me unto Him so that I may glorify Him.
  7. I know that there are so many Men who are so much more endowed with ability to understand scripture, memorize God's Word, find truths, recall information from many years ago, who with their education can do immensely more than I can. My abilities may seem infantile/rudimentary when I compare myself to so many others. But this isn't where I should be looking or comparing myself. I should be looking to God who is the author and finisher of my faith and realize that I must do EVERYTHING with the abilities that God has endowed me with, and not at the abilities that God has endowed others with. I must take what God has given me and do everything that I can to be found a good and faithful slave(doulos). This means where others may only have to read a passage once/twice, I may read it 10-20 times.
  8. I must realize/comprehend that just because God has chosen to reveal a truth from scripture to me, I have not been given some type of superior knowledge that makes me tower above others. It's by God's choice and sovereignty that I have been given any understanding of truth and not of my own abilities. My responsibility is to allow this vessel (me) to be used by God, to be sanctified for this is God's Will for me. 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5.
  9. Another caution/danger is in believing that there is a "new" or "higher" truth that we are to find that has not been there all along. (Gnosticism?) We know from scripture that the (complete) plan of God's salvation through Jesus Christ had been hidden from the Jews for they did not understand that the Messiah would have to suffer and die and rise again for their sins. Only after this had happened did they understand. They had only seen Him as a King, which He was/is, but not for that time; He was/is a King for His future reign and judgment. Their faith had been placed in Him for their salvation and rightly so. There are future events for which we do not have a complete knowledge of what it means and I believe those events will not be completely understood until they take place. ["As in the times of Noah"] Not even Noah knew when the flood would come until God told him to go into the ark. The time of the return of Christ is another example, for no one knows the hour... but God the Father. We have warnings of events that will take place but even some of them appear vague and/or difficult to understand. It becomes so tenuous when we search for "revelation" that may not be readily apparent. I believe this opens a person up to demonic suggestions which pervert the Truth of the Bible. This is why #2, #3, and #4 above are so vital. It is so very easy to "see" something in scripture that isn't there and can't possibly be there because it opposes or contradicts the basic doctrines of the Bible. God is sovereign and will teach us EXACTLY what He wants us to know and teach. Nothing more and nothing less. 10.The biggest danger may be in trying to "see" something that God hasn't chosen to reveal to us. We should be content (in all things) with what God has given us. We should test all spirits, pray for God's guidance, and then with faith teach what God has chosen for us to teach/preach. That which is not done in faith is sin. The entire purpose of learning God's truth is to glorify HIM first and foremost which should be in teaching others those truths. If we are puffed up by this truth that we believe "we" have found, then it probably isn't truth.
  10. ALL things MUST be done in LOVE. Finally, I think of the "mill-stone about the neck" when I begin to teach someone. I also think of Ezekiel and God's calling him and warning him that he is responsible for warning the Jews. When we have begun to accept the call to teach/preach, we have taken on a grave responsibility to accurately preach and teach God's Word. Failure to understand the seriousness of this venture may have grave consequences. If this alone doesn't cause you concern enough to spend more time in prayer then I would encourage you to not teach/preach God's Word. Preaching/teaching God's Word accurately is the greatest responsibility that a man may have. Everything else I might do has only temporal consequences.
  • This is a great post and a fantastic first post. Welcome to SEBH. With all of those things, the 'experts' cannot even agree IF SP exists.
    – Bob Jones
    Apr 2, 2020 at 14:40

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