Foundations of Biblical Interpretation

Learn central concepts to help you understand, interpret, and apply the Bible
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  • Lectures 11
  • Length 7 hours
  • Skill Level All Levels
  • Languages English
  • Includes Lifetime access
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About This Course

Published 1/2013 English

Course Description

This course is for those who find the Bible interesting, enlightening, confusing, or all of the above! This course explores the foundations of biblical interpretation and provides students with key tools for reading, interpreting, and applying the Bible in the contemporary world. There are nine lectures in the course (over 5 hours of content), with accompanying PowerPoints.

What are the requirements?

  • There are suggested readings that accompany each lecture, but those readings are not required.

What am I going to get from this course?

  • In this course, you will learn 1) how to read the Bible with awareness of historical and cultural context.
  • 2) How to read the Bible with attentiveness to the literary characteristics of the text
  • 3) How to read the Bible with knowledge of the big story of the Bible.
  • 4) How to read the Bible with self-awareness regarding the theological and cultural presuppositions that shape our interpretation of the Bible.

Who is the target audience?

  • Anyone who wants to grow in their understanding of how to interpret the Bible better.

What you get with this course?

Not for you? No problem.
30 day money back guarantee.

Forever yours.
Lifetime access.

Learn on the go.
Desktop, iOS and Android.

Get rewarded.
Certificate of completion.


Section 1: Getting the Basics
This introduction gives a brief overview of the course and discusses why biblical interpretation is a valuable topic to explore.
This lecture covers the centrality of the two great commands--love of God and love of neighbor--in guiding our interpretation of the Bible.
In case you would like to do the same reading that my students do in class, I've included that information with each lecture. Doing the reading will give you greater insight into the matters discussed in each lecture, but the lectures can be understood without the reading.
Background reading (optional): Augustine, De Doctrina Christiana (On Christian Doctrine), Book 1, chap. 35 - Book 2, chap. 5. Click here to read this text for free online.
This lectures discusses some common ways that we misread and misinterpret Scripture.

Background reading: How to Read the Bible in Changing Times by Mark L. Strauss, pp. 13-39.

This lecture discusses different ways in which our own context shapes how we interpret Scripture. We need to learn to become self-aware readers of Scripture so that we can properly understand the meaning of the text, as opposed to imposing our own meaning on the text.
Background reading: Grasping God's Word, 3rd edition by J. Scott Duvall and J. Daniel Hays, pp.137-147.
This lecture discusses the importance of the Holy Spirit in our interpretation of Scripture, covering topics such as inspiration and illumination.

Background reading: How to Read the Bible in Changing Times by Mark L. Strauss, pp.41-56.

If we are going to properly interpret any text of Scripture, we must have a good understanding of the overarching narrative of Scripture. This lecture summarizes the basic story of Scripture, from Genesis to Revelation.
Background Reading: How to Read the Bible in Changing Times by Mark L. Strauss, pp.56-68
Section 2: The Centrality of Context
This lecture explains why understanding the historical-cultural context of Scripture is so important to properly interpreting the Bible.

Background Reading: Grasping God's Word, 3rd edition by Duvall and Hays, 115-136

This lectures discusses the importance of literary context, which includes surrounding context and literary genre.
Background Reading: Grasping God's Word, 3rd edition by Duvall and Hays, 149-162
This lecture discusses the centrality of Christ for interpreting the narrative of Scripture. It also walks through an interpretive tool called the quadriga, which is helpful especially for interpreting Old Testament texts.

Background reading: "The Quadriga, or Something Like it: A Biblical and Pastoral Defense," by Peter Leithart (in Ancient Faith for the Church's Future). Partially available online here.

This lecture discusses the idea of a "heart of God hermeneutic," a way to think about how to apply the Bible today. Before watching the lecture, take a few minutes to complete the Bible Application Activity (included below). This activity should raise some questions in your mind and help you think more about the complexity of applying or living out the Bible today. 

Background reading: How to Read the Bible in Changing Times by Mark L. Strauss, pp.69-92

In this concluding discussion, I briefly summarize and highlight the concepts outlined in the course.

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Instructor Biography

Branson Parler, Bible/Theology Professor at Kuyper College

 Branson Parler (PhD, Calvin Theological Seminary) is Associate Professor of Theological Studies at Kuyper College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he teaches courses in Bible, Theology, and Philosophy. For more information, you can visit his website at

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