Inspired Subjectivity and Hermeneutical Objectivity

John H. Walton | May 18, 2010

Objectivity is the goal of hermeneutics so that the text of Scripture may speak for itself. For an interpreter to bring his subjective views to the text jeopardizes the authority of the Word. Two forces at work among evangelicals today tend to increase the subjective element in interpretation. The first is the principle of the analogy of faith or the harmonizing of different texts with one another. Harmonizing is desirable, but if taken too far, it can distort a text by inserting theological motifs into places where they do not belong. Doctrinal considerations should be introduced only to solve complexities of certain passages. The second force is the practices of the NT authors. Sometimes the interpreter must choose between using objective methods and following the example of NT authors in their use of the OT. He must maintain objectivity rather than pattern his exegesis after the NT in matters of typology, symbolism, role models, and fulfillments. The difference between contemporary exegetes and NT writers is that the former must abide by principles of hermeneutical objectivity while the former were led to follow the pattern of inspired subjectivity. Inspired subjectivity is not an option in this day and time.

Vol. 13, no. 1 (Spring 2002)

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Walton, John H.. "Inspired Subjectivity and Hermeneutical Objectivity." The Master's Seminary Journal 13, no. 1 (Spring 2002): 65-77.