Hermeneutics - The Art and Science of Biblical Interpretation


In a well-known episode of the old television series The Twilight Zone, a spaceship lands on earth piloted by extraterrestrials called the Kanamits. The arrival of these 9-foot-tall aliens sparks fear in the hearts of people throughout the world, until one of their leaders explains to a room of U.N. delegates that they have come to earth simply to share their advanced technology with human beings. He then hands over a book written in the language of his planet.

At first people are skeptical of the aliens’ motives, until cryptographers finally translate the book’s title – To Serve Man. What could be more wonderful! An advanced race of beings desires to serve humanity. All over the world people sign up to board the Kanamits’ spaceship for a free trip to their planet. Little do these passengers realize, however, that they have misunderstood the book. They are not, as they suppose, tourists on a cosmic adventure. They are ingredients for a meal. The book, To Serve Man, is a cookbook.

Bad things can happen when we don’t understand what we are reading.

This is especially true when we read the Bible. The Bible is the unique revelation of God’s truth, a divine gift to us all. In the pages of scripture we learn what we are to believe about God and how God wants us to live. The problem, however, is that much like the book in The Twilight Zone, the Bible was written in a language we do not speak, by people we have never met, from a cultural perspective that is completely alien to our own. It is not always easy to understand what the Bible says. (Of course, unlike the book in The Twilight Zone, the Bible truly is good news of One who came to serve humankind! See Mark 10:45.)

Starting January 29, ACC will be offering a 9-week class titled “Hermeneutics – The art and science of biblical interpretation”. The purpose of the class is to equip participants with basic tools and knowledge that will aid them in understanding scripture. The class, taught by David Ellis and JC Cha, will meet in the church office on Sundays from 12:30-2:00pm. The class will cover the nature of scripture and basic principles of interpretation and then explore distinct characteristics of the main genres of biblical literature – historical narrative, the New Testament epistles, the gospels, parables, Old Testament law, the psalms, wisdom literature, the Old Testament prophets, and apocalyptic literature.

There is no charge for the class. The material will be helpful for adults and advanced high schoolers. Participants are invited to bring their lunch with them to class.

To sign up for “Hermeneutics” click here.