The Interpretive Journey is a technique used to help a reader better come to God’s intent for a particular verse or passage of Scripture. It is a five step process that allows the reader to read, evaluate, discern, and come to a conclusion about the meaning of the text that God intends to be understood.
The five steps of the Interpretive Journey are: Grasping the Text in Their Town, Measuring the Width of River to Cross, Crossing the Principlizing Bridge, Consult the Biblical Map, Grasping the Text in Our Town. The steps are detailed in greater length bellow.
Grasping the Text in Their Town: Rereading the text multiple times in order to develop an understanding for the meaning of the text to the biblical audience. Write out what the passage meant to the biblical audience in past tense verbs. There is no need for theological principles at this point.
Measuring the Width of the River to Cross: Reflect on what separates the biblical audience from Christians today. Elements include differences in culture, language, situation, time, and even covenant. The width of the river can vary from passage to passage. If studying Old Testament text, acknowledge differences that came about from Jesus. Understand the unique situations of the passage.
Crossing the Principlizing Bridge: The most difficult step and it involves looking for the theological principle. Theological principle is part of the meaning. That means we are not creating a new meaning, we are trying to discover the meaning that the author intended. Reflect on all the differences from with Width of the River and now find the similarities between both audiences. After doing this, fall back on the meaning to the biblical audience and find a theological principle that is in the text, but takes the similarities into account. The principle should be reflected in the text, timeless and not tied to a specific situation, free of cultural bondage, correspond to the teaching of the rest of Scripture, and be relevant to both audiences.
Consult the Biblical Map: Entering the parts-whole spiral. Reflecting back and forth between the text and the teaching of the rest of Scripture. If studying Old Testament passages, you must take the theological principle through the New Testament to find areas that add to or modify that principle. We must interpret Old Testament passages as Christians. Sometimes this step leads to rewording the theological principle ensuring it fits with the rest of Scripture.
Grasping the Text in Our Town: Applying the theological principle to specific situations individual Christians face today. There are numerous applicational possibilities because Christians today find themselves in many different situations that are specific to each one. Our place in our relationship with God determines how we will apply the theological principle.
Source: Duvall, J. S., and J. D. Hays. Grasping God’s Word: A Hands-On Approach to Reading, Interpreting, and Applying the Bible. 3rd ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2012.