Dr. Keita Kenyatta
[Table of Contents]
Principles of Biblical Interpretation
THE RULES OF PaRDeS INTERPRETATION:
There are four level of interpretation called: Parshat, Remez, D’rash and Sod. The first letter of each word P-R-D-S is taken, and vowels are added for pronunciation, giving the word PaRDeS (meaning "garden" or "orchard"). Each layer is deeper and more intense than the last, like the layers of an onion.
The concept was and is that one needs to interpret Scripture, and not merely to accept it on its face. There were four approaches to Midrash that were remembered by the acronym, “Pardes” (meaning Paradise).
P'shat: (pronounced peh-shaht' - meaning "simple") The first was Pshat, (simple), which meant that the text could be understood from its simple meaning. This was rare.
The p'shat is the plain, simple meaning of the text. The understanding of scripture in its natural, normal sense using the customary meanings of the word’s being used, literary style, historical and cultural setting, and context. The p'shat is the keystone of scriptural understanding. If we discard the p'shat we lose any real chance of an accurate understanding and we are no longer objectively deriving meaning from the Scriptures (exegesis), but subjectively reading meaning into the scriptures (eisogesis). The Babylonian Talmud states that no passage loses its P'shat
'Talmud Shabbat 63a - Rabbi Kahana objected to Mar son of Rabbi Huna: But this refers to the words of the Torah? A verse cannot depart from its plain meaning, he replied.'
Remez: (pronounced reh-mez' - meaning "hint") The second was “Remez” (wink) which meant that there was a subtle hint of the meaning in the text.
This is where another (implied) meaning is alluded to in the text, usually revealing a deeper meaning. There may still be a p'shat meaning as well as another meaning as any verse can have multiple levels of meaning.
An example of implied "REMEZ" Proverbs 20:10 - Different weights, and different measures, both of them are alike an abomination to the Lord. The p'shat would be concerned with a merchant using the same scale to weigh goods for all of his customers. The remez implies that this goes beyond this into aspects of fairness and honesty in anyone's life.
D’rash: (pronounced deh-rahsh' also called "Midrash") The third was “Drash” (draw out) which meant that the meaning of the text had to be drawn out by the use of certain rules of analytical procedure known as hermeneutics, and this was the most frequent method of understanding.
This is a teaching or exposition or application of the P'shat and/or Remez. (In some cases this could be considered comparable to a "sermon.") For instance, Biblical writers may take two or more unrelated verses and combine them to create a verse(s) with a third meaning. That noun is derived from the verb darash, meaning to draw out.
There are three rules to consider when utilizing the d'rash interpretation of a text:
Sod: (pronounced sawd or sood [like "wood"] - meaning "hidden") The fourth was “Sod” (secret) which meant that the text could not be understood, or that its meaning is a mystery.This understanding is the hidden, secret or mystic meaning of a text. Some examples of this would be the "dragon," "whore of Babylon," and number "666," all from the book of Revelation. Others would include; Yahshua's command in ,
"Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you."
"But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all."
Exegesis: From exegeomai in the Greek, to explain-ex, and hegeomai, to lead, to guide] The exposition or interpretation of any literary production, but more particularly the exposition or interpretation of Scripture; also the principles of the art of sacred interpretation; exegetics; hermeneutics.
Eisegesis noun : Personal interpretation of a text (especially of the Bible) using your own ideas. In other words, reading into the text concepts and ideas totally foreign to the text.
TaNaKh: (Pronounced, "tan-AHK")
What Christians call the "Old Testament" is called the TaNakh to Hebrews.. The consonants in the word Tanakh are an acronym for:
Translation - To put a word, text or language into another language while trying to retain the same sense.
Transliteration - To replace letters of one alphabet by letters of another alphabet with the same phonetic sound (but not necessarily the same meaning).
Version - A passage or work translated form one language into another, an account or description of something from a particular point of view.
Interpretation - To explain a meaning, or attribute a certain meaning to a text, work or manuscript. .
Hermeneutics - The science of interpreting the Scriptures - (Grk. Hermeneutikos).
Bible - From the Greek word Byblus or Biblia which was derived from the Papyrus that grew in Egypt/Africa, along the Nile River. Around the 12 century B.C this plant was exported from Africa to the Phoenician city of Gebal, which was then a Greek colony. The Greek pronunciation of papyrus (meaning paper) was Byblus which also meant book. the word Bible was derived form Byblus where paper was made in the island of Byblous.