Pastor, author and Christian apologist, Tim Keller, contributes a vital point to the discussion of hermeneutics. While there are some gray areas in determining certain genres in Scripture, which naturally lead to differing views regarding interpretation, when it comes to Biblical interpretation, we all have to begin with the context. When we approach Scripture, it is particularly important to consider the genre (to the extent that we can), the historical context and, in many cases, the personal circumstances the author was facing.
Reading Scripture verses in isolation without regard to the broader context can lead to misinterpretations which can mar the truth of the Word. Rather than focusing on our own cultural norms and personal biases, and viewing Scripture through those lenses, we must place ourselves as best we can into the setting in which the various authors were writing. This, along with studying specific verses in conjunction with their surrounding passages, will help us to more fully understand what the authors are saying and what they really mean.
Just as it is beneficial to study the historical background in which a classic work of fiction is set, studying Scripture in this way, utilizing the academic disciplines, yields a fuller, richer understanding of the text. (For example, looking into the socioeconomic climate of London in the 1840s can give a reader a deeper understanding of the issues present in Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol and a better appreciation of the story).
In his book Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis writes, “[Christianity] was never intended to replace or supersede the ordinary human arts and sciences: it is rather a director which will set them all to the right jobs, and a source of energy which will give them all new life, if only they will put themselves at its disposal.”
The faculties which God has given us to explore the world and discover some of its secrets are meant to be put to full use in the study of Scripture. As Keller implies, finding the intended meaning of a particular passage takes some digging. We are meant to approach Christianity with our whole being, devoting our intellects, imaginations and physical beings to the pursuit of God.