Puritan Principles of Biblical Interpretation

J.I. Packer, in his masterpiece A Quest for Godliness , highlights what he believes to be the three major principles of biblical interpretation in Puritan expositions. These are three principles we would do well to imitate:

1. Puritan exegetes…do not bring to the Bible the pervasive sense of difference and distance between cultures and epochs that is so much part of today’s mind-set; nor do they bring with them the imaginative ideas of religious evolution that cripple so many modern biblical scholars and corrupt so much of their expository work. Instead of feeling distant from biblical characters and their experiences because of the number of centuries between them, the Puritans felt kinship with them because they belonged to the same human race, faced, fear, and fellowshipped with the same unchanging God, and struggled with essentially the same spiritual problems.

2. Puritan grammatical-historical exegesis of texts, though often naively expressed, is remarkably competent, as any knowledgeable reader of Matthew Henry’s great expository commentary on the whole Bible will soon see.

3. Puritans exegeted Scripture in order to apply it, and as application was the focus of their concern so it was the area of their special strength…

5 Responses

  1. Nicholas T. Batzig


    I too wish we had been able to talk more. Perhaps at next years GA we could get some time together.

    Thank you for the recommendation. I value any that you have to give. Burrough’s commentary on Hosea is one work I have not read. I have a copy that I will be sure to read. Thanks again.

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