A Syllabus of Studies in Hermeneutics Part 3 -- By: Rollin Thomas Chafer

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 093:370 (Apr 1936)
Article: A Syllabus of Studies in Hermeneutics Part 3
Author: Rollin Thomas Chafer


A Syllabus of Studies in Hermeneutics
Part 3

Rollin Thomas Chafer

(Continued from the January-March Number, 1936)

{Editor’s note: One footnotes in the original printed edition was numbered 12, but in this electronic edition is numbered 1.}

II. Historical Sketch

Following the Reformation several marked movements took place, none of which presented entirely new principles of interpretation. Rather, they were revivals of ideas long held by various leaders, some of the views dating back to the first century and others originating in the third century or thereafter. These movements included the prominence in the seventeenth century of the demands of the Socinians that Revelation be subject to reason, and the demands, at the other extreme, of the Quakers who would subject “the written Word to the Inner Word, that is, to individual revelation.” In the early part of the eighteenth century three schools of different principles emerged: (a) The Logical School, founded by two Genevese, Le Clerc and Turritini, who succeeded the Arminians. “This school broke the despotism of the allegorizing school, but through its cold logic lost the spiritual truths of the Bible.” (b) The Pietistic School, founded by Spencer, which was a reaction from the former. Although accused of mysticism, Spencer opposed the Quakers thus: “Our feelings are not the norm of truth, but divine truth is the norm of our feelings. This rule of truth exists in the Divine Word apart from ourselves.” (c) The Naturalistic School of the German Naturalists, a destructive reaction.

During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries four systems, the underlying principles of which are still appealed to, should be noted more particularly, namely: (1) The Postmillennial System, introduced by Daniel Whitby, an English

Arminian theologian who died in 1726. Although he published his system admittedly as a “new hypothesis,” he employed principles which the savants of the Alexandrian school followed as early as the third century. It became the accepted interpretation in the majority of the theological schools of Christendom, and held the first place for many years. More recently it has been replaced by the Amillennial System which differs in certain respects and in other features is similar in interpretation. A comparison of these systems will not be presented in this brief historical sketch. (2) The Grammatical School founded by Ernesti. He based sound interpretation on the philological study of the text. Although productive of valuable results it failed in general exposition of Scripture. It is true that sound interpretation must begin with the gram...

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