When you ask what is the literal rule of interpretation, one assumes you mean the Bible. Otherwise, the literal rule of interpretation is people interpret everything according to their own belief system.
Each person, regardless of who they are, will always interpret most matters according to their own belief system. So-called experts will pontificate their views based upon their understanding or, often, because they are paid just to promote guesses or falsehoods (e.g. racehorse tipsters, political pundits, etc).
Even when it comes to the Bible, most people make an assumption and then look for texts to support their thesis that they have declared to be true.
An example of this is the claim that no man is good; because all men are inherently evil and deceitful. Here are some Scriptures to prove the claim:
- The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. Genesis 6:5
- The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately corrupt; who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9
- Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil, but those who plan good have joy. Proverbs 12:20
- A good man obtains favor from the Lord, but a man of evil devices he condemns. Proverbs 12:2
- A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, but the sinner’s wealth is laid up for the righteous. Proverbs 13:22
- The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, And He delights in his way. (Psalm 37:23)
- Now there was a man named Joseph from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a member of the council, a good and righteous man, (Luke 23:50)
- Why, one will hardly die for a righteous man—though perhaps for a good man one will dare even to die. (Romans 5:7)
- The good man out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil man out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. (Matthew 12:35)
- The good man out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil man out of his evil treasure produces evil; for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. (Luke 6:45)
However, we have to understand what Jesus meant when He said that only God alone is good. For, on the one hand, we have Jesus stating that some men are good and some men are evil but, on the other hand, when compared to God, Jesus says that He alone is good. The frame of reference appears to have moved, and instead of looking at humans under a microscope, we are looking at an overview of humankind and comparing all who have lived with the Creator. Things are different when we move from examining a particular piece of the puzzle that is only a part of the big picture to actually seeing the overall picture.
Interpreting the Scriptures to arrive at truth, really requires us to come to the Bible with a clean slate and put aside preconceived ideas; to be truly honest with ourselves and acknowledge that unless we are willing to learn from God Himself, then we are really creating our own interpretation.
As each one of us is an infinitesimally minute piece of the greater purpose that the Creator has planned (i.e. being smaller than the smallest thing we could possibly imagine), we really need to contact the One who is putting together the plan before we begin to interpret anything.
Jesus said that people search the Scriptures only to reject Him ( John 5:39-40). Even though this may sound ridiculous, there are millions of people who claim they are Christians because they read the Bible, yet they do not actually know Lord Jesus Christ. Yet the very Scriptures instruct them to seek a relationship with Him. In fact, when these individuals are informed of what John 5:39-40 states, they will reject it because they hold to a body of doctrines which they treasure.
This is why you will find people, who do not know Lord Jesus Christ, calling themselves Christians, bearing false witness, going to war, preaching hatred, and performing other evil acts. Contrary to what many may believe, the Bible bears witness that warmongers and hate preachers are not followers of Lord Jesus Christ.
When you ask what is the literal rule of interpretation, from my observations and experience, the literal rule is people interpret according to their own understanding of life. If their understanding is distorted, so is their interpretation.
A person who believes that he is responsible for his own actions will interpret a matter different to a person who does not want to take responsibility for what he does.
For example, we will hear people say, “I did not do it. The Devil made me do it.” Or, “The government should do something.” Then there are those, who often saying, “I will see what I can do.”
When it comes to the government: Who is the Government? People in the government seem to disappear so fast that John turns into Julie, who, when the spots hit the wall, turns into Joseph; who also happens to suddenly disappear when Janet turns up—the next thing Jack and Jill went up the hill and nothing can be found thereafter. Maybe Donald can help? Now interpret that!
Some might say the above paragraph has something to do with turd blossoms. But if you understand what it means to push up daisies, then you will understand that what people call interpretation. Sometimes, what is interpretation is deemed only to be based upon the truth and so far removed from it, there is no resemblance. On other occasions, what is deemed interpretation by the deceived, may actually be the truth (like what is found here, for example).
If your aim is to discover truth, there is no need for interpretation. Pain is truth. Reality is experience. Relationships are real. Everyone wants one that is satisfying—all the time—even those who claim they don’t. For when it comes to pushing up daisies, most people are not too keen to join the queue. Yet for so many, relationships cause pain. And painful relationships are not wanted. Nothing to interpret there at all. Truth simply becomes self-evident in the end.
Why Dig Holes In Sand Or Pay For One When Other People Will Do It For Free?