Michael Patton initiates a discussion on the meaning(s?) of biblical texts by observing the dangers of subjective interpretation approaches:
What does it mean to you? This, I believe, is the most destructive question that one can ask of the Scriptures. The implication is that the Scriptures can mean something to one person that it does not to another. “To me, it means that God is going to protect my children,” says one person. “Well, to me it means that God is going to help me get that new car,” says another. “Wonderful!” is the response to both. And so goes the conversation around the circle of well-meaning Bible studiers.
Patton contrasts reader-response hermeneutics (where the reader subjectively shapes the meaning of a text) with authorial-intent hermeneutics (which seeks the objective meaning an author intended to convey to his original audience). Patton includes this nifty graph on the exegetical process:
Exegesis refers to the process of getting the meaning out of (exe-) a text. Read the whole thing.
(HT: Jeff Mooney)