Nowadays the emic-etic distinction is becoming highly popular in New Testament studies. Whether it is a useful tool for interpreting the New Testament cross-culturally, however, is a question to be answered only after a thorough analysis of emics and etics in the social sciences. A broad overview of the history and significance of the emic-etic distinction in the social sciences is followed by brief remarks on the interpretive turn in the theory of science. Special attention is given to the adequacy of the emic-etic tool in claims of cross-cultural interpretation in which a high premium is placed on avoiding ethnocentric interpretations. Emics and etics as seen from a postinterpretive turn position are discussed in an attempt to redefine them with a view to application in interpretive discourses.