"Whom shall I believe?" We open the Bible and at once voices on every side cry at us to follow their way of reading it! But which pathway to understanding is the true one? How can I know which teacher to follow, or what commentary to believe? Or should I simply follow my conscience? The best help in this dilemma is a good understanding of an art called hermeneutics. That is what this book is about.
"Hermeneutics" comes from the name of the god Hermes, which the Greeks borrowed and used to describe any act of "explaining" something. They did this because Hermes, among other things, was the chief messenger of heaven and the guardian of speech and writing. He carried a magical golden staff, a gift from his older brother Apollo, which enabled him to convey the will of Zeus to humans, and to supervise every kind of communication. Upon him rested the burden of bridging the gaps that often prevent a message from passing correctly between sender and receiver.
Nowadays we use hermeneutics to describe the art of correctly interpreting a piece of literature, especially the Bible. To this modern science the ancient "golden staff" now belongs, and if it is used properly it will lead the reader toward the truth. Sometimes, sadly, the "staff" loses its magical sheen, becomes tarnished, and may do people more harm than good. That is to say, a corrupt hermeneutic may be worse than none at all! I hope to avoid that fault and to put into my readers’ hands a brightly shining wand that will truly help them to discover the mind of God.