Epistemology – a big word referring to the study of knowledge itself.
This isn’t as cut and dry to define as some areas of study as it is effectively a branch of philosophy but still an important one for those studying the Scriptures.
“Theory of knowledge” is another common definition of this area of study.
“1856, coined by Scottish philosopher James F. Ferrier (1808-1864) from Greek episteme “knowledge, acquaintance with (something), skill, experience,” from Ionic Greek epistasthai “know how to do, understand,” literally “overstand,” from epi “over, near” (see epi-) + histasthai “to stand,” from PIE root *sta- “to stand, make or be firm.” The scientific (as opposed to philosophical) study of the roots and paths of knowledge is epistemics (1969). Related: Epistemological; epistemologically.”
Ultimately, it is an area of study focused on truth and our ability to know what that truth is. Knowledge of the truth inevitably involves our ability to understand that truth. As finite (limited) beings, we have to seriously consider our ability to know anything in particular and this area of study is focused on understanding our ability to know as well as justify belief. This includes our ability to decipher between truth and fiction, fact and opinion.
Three famous questions within this area of study include:
Is it possible to have knowledge at all?
Does reason provide us with knowledge of the world independently of experience?
Does our knowledge represent reality as it really is?
This last one is the one I find myself pondering the most. Why? As I believe God is truth, I often wonder whether my understanding of His truth is accurate as to who God is and the nature of the universe He created. Do I truly understand it as God meant it or for that matter how He sees it?
Anyway, there are five (that I’m aware of) main approaches or perspectives on knowledge within epistemology which include:
I can think of examples of each of these and their impacts on US culture alone and I’m sure there are others. Even so, I’ll end this introduction here. I recommend a closer look at this study as you will probably find your thoughts have wandered into this philosophical realm of thinking at some point or another. Of particular note is what it means for all those who claim to believe in the one God of the Bible and our knowledge of Him.