Research

Who Determines Meaning? Authorial Intent, Allegory, Literal Reading, and Biblical Theology

I was invited to speak on the topic of hermeneutics for the 31st Metro Manila Fundamental Bible Conference. Due to covid19, the entire conference was livestreamed in social media on October 20-23 (Manila time). My talk below is in English-Tagalog. Unfortunately, there are no English-only subtitles for those who do not understand Tagalog. Maybe someday.

The original topic given to me was “literal interpretation,” but I confessed to the committee that my understanding of “literal hermeneutic” may differ from what many dispensationalists consider as “literal” or what I call “hyper-literal.” While I hold to a historical-grammatical hermeneutic and reject allegorical interpretation (in agreement with everyone on the committee), I do see figures of speech and OT types (OT patterns or foreshadowing) throughout the framework of the Bible’s storyline (Biblical Theology).

The focus of my talk, however, is what I consider the most important question of hermeneutics: who determines meaning? The case for authorial intent is important wherever you find yourself on the spectrum of dispensational theology, covenant theology, or progressive covenantalism.

My thesis is that our theological framework, though important, does not determine what the text means. The intention of the biblical writers and the divine author (Holy Spirit) determines meaning. The task of the Bible reader is to discover the authorial intent of the passage of Scripture that he is reading.

Below is the video of my talk along with the handout that was made available to those who “attended” the virtual conference.

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