Our neighbor Terry Firma at Friendly Athiest posted this handy little guide to true Biblical hermeneutics:
(you’d think the spell checker would recognize “hermeneutics” by now.)
I really wish it were that simple. But in my experience, most folks aren’t even that organized when approaching the Bible.
More often than not in discussions of Biblical interpretation I find a confused mess. The speaker will pay lip service to some principle, like a “face value” reading of the text. After that speaker will just throw out a lot of ad hoc arguments why the meaning of this verse is not actually the apparent meaning. One verse is specific to the time period, another verse was intended only for the audience that received it, that verse should really be translated differently, and a final verse won’t make sense unless you read more into the text that the author provided us. There’s nothing like the principle above behind it.
When I ask where the speaker got their argument, I’ll usually hear something about a preacher or Sunday school. It’s why I think the actual text is really a red herring, and much of Christianity is actually based on oral tradition.