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Satan. A word which the LXX and translators of the Masoretic Old Testament chose different methods. A translator has two different choices when dealing with a proper name or title. Transliteration or translation ... that is make the word sound the same, or literally translate the meaning of the title. The LXX more often than not used the latter method, thus translating for example Philistine (transliterated) as Allophyle (or “Other”) which is a translation. Similarly with Satan, the term “the slanderer” is used instead of the transliterated Satan. My thesis in the following is that there is a hermeneutic, all to common, which is best described as Satan’s (the slanderer’s) hermenuetic and that this in turn is to be set aside where and when ever one notices its use.

What then might be meant by Satan’s (or the slanderer’s) hermeneutic and what is the point of discussing such a thing? The term hermeneutic normally means how we extract meaning from text, but one might expand it to mean (as I do in this case) to mean how we extract meaning from any of a variety of forms of communication, i.e., including not just text but speech as well. Satan’s hermeneutic is then is when we (all too often) take the words of another, usually because of associations external to the topic at hand, and interpret them in the worst way we can find. We take the narrowest (or widest) or most literal (or most figurative) interpretation possible. Whatever way we can find to interpret their words in the most outrageous or most negative way possible is the meaning to which we attach their words.

This hermeneutic is often seen in discussions between parties arrive in a conversation with an implicit or explicit understanding that they have important or strong disagreements. Whether it is for lack of confidence in one’s one position,  a debaters desire to “win points” in an argument and not a seeking just to understand the other’s position, or just a customary discussion style seen in the blogging and debating environments. And I have to say, this is a failing (sin?) of which I participate fully in just as do my interlocutors in discussion threads.

The primary problem, not just that this is a Satanic hermeneutic and should therefore be avoided on principle, is that in my experience it has the opposite effect from the one intended. Time after time in discussions with parties on both sides resorting to this method my observation is that the ultimate effect of this discussion is that one comes away convinced more than before the conversation began of the correctness and mistakes of your and the other points in discussion.  The lesson here is obvious, ... don’t do it. Instead of hunting for the most unreasonable interpretation of the others words, seek to find the core of their point and address that.

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