Hermeneutics (from the Greek hermēneutikós, ‘related to explaining’; ‘explaining’ is used here in the sense of ‘clarifying’, of rendering the obscure plain, the unclear clear) was for many centuries a sub-discipline of philology. Since most of the texts considered essential in the Christian world were available in contradictory versions, bearing traces of sloppiness and absent-mindedness in an endless chain of anonymous copyists, the question of authenticity, of the true version versus distorted ones-could not but turn into a major concern of scholars. Hermeneutics was originally developed to answer this question. Employing mostly philological methods, hermeneutics occupied itself with critical scrutiny of contending texts, with the re-possession of the authentic version-the ‘true meaning’ of the document-as its ultimate objective. At that stage, recovering the true meaning was seen as identical with demonstrating the authenticity of the text. For obvious reasons, historiography was the most keen and grateful client of hermeneutics.