ALL OUR knowledge of Scripture must be sought from Scripture itself alone.
… The universal rule for interpreting Scripture is that we must attribute nothing to Scripture as its teaching which we have not seen most clearly on the basis of an historical inquiry. The kind of historical inquiry I mean must
… I. take account of the nature and properties of the language in which the
books of Scripture were written … II. collect the doctrines of each book and
so organize them that we can readily find all those that bear on the same
topic; and next, note all those which are ambiguous or obscure or which
seem contradictory … finally, III. tell the circumstances and fate of all the
prophetic books of which we have any record: the life, dispositions and
intentions of the author of each book, who he was, when and on what
occasion he wrote, to whom and in what language; how the book was first
received, into whose hands it fell, how many different readings there are of
the text, who first accepted it as sacred, and finally how all the books now
agreed to be sacred were united into one.
—Theological-Political Treatise, vii (III/99-101)