When it comes to the interpretive process, it is essential to understand the four main terms used in the field of study. When you understand these four terms, you will understand the difference between hermeneutics and exegesis.
The four terms we need to grasp the meaning of are: hermeneutics, exegesis, exposition and preunderstanding.
1. Hermeneutics is a set of principles that is used to determine the meaning of the biblical text under investigation. These principles are simply rules that we follow when we interpret the Scriptures.
2. Exegesis is the skilful application of sound hermeneutical principles to the biblical text under investigation in order to determine the author’s intended meaning. In other words, exegesis is simply putting the rules into practice.
3. Exposition is the communication of the meaning of the text of Scripture along with its relevance to present-day hearers.
4. Preunderstanding is the body of assumptions and attitudes the exegete brings to the text under investigation.
In other words, the interpretive process involves a set of principles (hermeneutics) that can be applied to a text of Scripture in order to find the author’s intended meaning (exegesis) so that the meaning and relevancy of the text can be communicated to the present-day hearers (exposition) with total objectivity (repressing of one’s preunderstanding).
Hermeneutics is a set of principles or guidelines; whereas, exegesis is the application of those principles or guidelines – the difference between hermeneutics and exegesis.
I learned hermeneutics in my formal training; however, it was not until I did further study that I completely understood the four main terms in the interpretive process.
How did you learn and develop your understanding of hermeneutics in your ministry experience?
There are many great books around that will help you understand the interpretative process when it comes to understanding the Scriptures. I will introduce you to some of those books when I write articles relating to sermon preparation resources.