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Study of the general principles of biblical interpretation. Its primary purpose is to discover the truths and values of the Bible, which is seen as a receptacle of divine revelation. Four major types of hermeneutics have emerged: literal (asserting that the text is to be interpreted according to the plain meaning), moral (seeking to establish the principles from which ethical lessons may be drawn), allegorical (interpreting narratives as having a level of reference beyond the explicit), and anagogical or mystical (seeking to explain biblical events as they relate to the life to come). More recently the word has come to refer to all deep reading of literary and philosophical texts.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on hermeneutics, visit Britannica.com.
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