Hermeneutics 1.0

Hermeneutics—the science of interpretation

Long, unpronounceable word.

And science.

Um, no.

Just no.

(Unless of course, you like science.)

But for the rest of us….

You are an alien from the planet Yam-Eretz, living in the year 2532, when a rogue satellite from earth crashes into your planet. Inside you find an ancient newspaper dating from the 21st century. The article reports on how a woman who was almost mugged as she left McDonald’s threw her just-purchased coffee at the mugger who screamed in pain and ran away.

Having never heard of McDonald’s or coffee before, you extrapolate from the newspaper article that coffee is a weapon sold by the blacksmith, McDonald.

As a teacher of all things extraterrestrial, you excitedly teach this fascinating truth to others. Not only do you teach it, but those in your footsteps teach it. Decades, and generations later, everyone is now aware that McDonald was a blacksmith and coffee was a weapon.

But then one day, an alien-archeologist digging on earth uncovers a perfectly preserved red and yellow restaurant with a golden arch under a layer of volcanic ash. Based on his discovery, he claims that McDonald’s is a fast-food chain, and that coffee is a hot beverage enjoyed by sleep-deprived people early in the morning. He starts telling others about this, but he is immediately labeled a heretic.

After all, the ancient newspaper clearly stated that coffee was a weapon.


Ok, so maybe the science of interpretation is kinda important.

WARNING: 5 complicated terms, 1 theological time period, and 1 social history class coming up.

Just kidding.

Sort of.

Exegesis vs Eisegesis
Inductive vs Deductive
Cultural Background

Eisegesis—From reading this ancient newspaper article, I know it to be true that McDonald’s coffee is a 21st century weapon. I can confidently base my eternal security on this truth.

Exegesis—Though I assume I understand this ancient article, I want to make sure I know just what the journalist means by McDonald’s coffee.

Inductive—What is McDonald’s coffee? I will find various newspaper articles that talk about McDonald’s coffee in a variety of contexts.

Deductive—McDonald’s coffee is a 21st century weapon; I will find various newspapers articles that talk about McDonald’s coffee bringing people harm.

Cultural Background—I will study 21st century life on the planet earth and research things like weapons, clothing, food, shelter, hobbies, careers and technology until I can have the confidence to know what McDonald’s coffee was in the 21st century. Only then will I confidently base my eternal security on this truth.

Believe it or not, that was the short version.

If you’d like the expanded version, click Hermeneutics 5.0. 

Photo Credit: Coffee Fist—istock / McDonal's—Fair Use / Alien—Public Domain