Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Role of the Reformataion and Martin Luther in Biblical Interpretatioin

Consider the history of biblical interpretation and choose 1 time period and 1 person whose method offers the most promise for attaining a clear interpretation of Scripture today. Be sure to identify the person and the method with special focus on how that method aids a modern interpreter in understanding Scripture.

            There were many times and men who did a lot of good things for hermeneutics. However, the one time that stood out in my mind was that of the Reformation and the man himself Martin Luther. Martin Luther is known for many things, but his most famous acclaim in my opinion is his principle of sola scriptura (Scripture alone). What this basically means is that Scripture is our highest authority. We do not look for a greater truth than what can be found in Scripture.  Klein believes, “…Martin Luther was one of two figures whose careful exegesis aligned the best of the medieval approach with the new ecclesiastical reality of the sixteenth century and led Christian hermeneutics into new paths.”[1] Luther believed that Scripture was the only divine authority for Christians.[2]
            Secondly “Luther followed those medievalists who rejected the allegorical method of interpretation because in his view, it amounted to empty speculation. Instead, with Aquinas he affirmed that Scripture had one simple meaning, its historical sense.”[3]And he is correct while the allegorical method does give us more open interpretation it is too subjective. But he is also wrong in saying that the only correct understanding is the historical sense. The best thing Luther did was reinforce the need to read the Bible in a Christocentric nature, that is seeing Christ in the whole Bible meaning both the Old Testament and New Testament. It is said that he took up the typological interpretation of the NT.[4]
            Most of the reformers rejected allegory in exchange for the simpler understanding of what the Scripture was actually saying. It is with this method we have the start of what is now modern exegesis. Had we stuck to the old manner we would no longer cared about what the text meant to those in history but only what sense we could make of it. Depending on what school you came from there are two, three or four parts to the allegorical method.
            With Luther’s method it would allow us to develop things like the historical critical method of understanding Scripture. Which in turn allows us to have a clearer view of what the Scriptures are actually trying to say and then it allows us the opportunity to then transform it into points of application. Without understanding what the author had originally intended we run the risk of interpreting the Bible according to our own whims and desires.


Duvall, J. Scott, and J. Daniel Hays. Grasping God's Word 2nd edition. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005.
Fee, Gordon D., and Douglas Stuart. How to Read the Bible for All its Worth. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003.
Klien, WIlliam W., and Craig L. and Robert L. Hubbard Jr. Blomberg. Introduction to Biblical Interpretatioin. Nahsville: Thomas Nelson, 2004.

            [1] WIlliam W., Klien, andBlomberg Craig L. and Robert L. Hubbard Jr. Introduction to Biblical Interpretatioin. (Nahsville: Thomas Nelson, 2004)47

            [2] Ibid., 47.
            [3] Ibid., 47.
            [4] Ibid., 47.

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