Augustine, the Bishop of Hippo, was a theologian and philosopher who lived from 354-430 AD. He is viewed as one of the most important Church Fathers, and his writings influenced the development of Western philosophy.
Theological principles of interpretation from Augustine’s On Christine Doctrine:
- The historical background of a passage helps in our understanding of it (even if learned apart from the church).
- The literal and historical sense is important.
- The interpreter must understand the author’s meaning and not read his own ideas into the text.
- A verse must be studied in context.
- The Holy Spirit is not a substitute for the hard work of learning the history and languages relevant to a text.
- No doctrine should be built on passages which are difficult to understand.
- The difficult passages are to be understood in light of clearer passages.
- There is a progressive element in revelation.
- Study more earnestly the clearer doctrines so that later the more obscure passages can be the more accurately interpreted.