The historical-critical method of biblical exegesis has its roots in Humanism and in the Enlightenment. Humanism situated the Bible in the series of ancient texts, whilst the Enlightenment sought the rational elements in the message of the Bible. The method, developed over a long period of time, proceeds from the assumption that the Bible has a message, first and foremost, for the respective era. This is why it tries to distil the demands and consolations of the Bible on the basis of (historical) knowledge about the respective era, and to sound the depths of its message for the present on this basis. There are many steps the interpreter must go through to create a space in his heart for the message of the Bible in accord with the specifics of his own era. The critical aspect of the method rests primarily on placing the message within the time of its utterance, but also on relating it to the conditions and mentalities prevailing at the time of interpretation. The historical-critical method is an auxiliary science that does not exclude other types of Bible exegesis. The insights gained from applying it are communicated through sermons and as part of the teachings of the Church.
In this small essay, attention is drawn to the fact that the way people think and behave is influenced by the conditions of nature. Thinking has experience as prerequisite. In the cooler North, nature is differently perceived than in the warmer South. Consequences result thereof, in what regards how one understands and shapes one’s existence. The differences in mentality and life-style between East and West are largely culture-bound. In Europe as a whole, different conceptions can enrich each other.