Among scholars and students today, the field of biblical interpretation is divided into two distinct yet overlapping categories: exegesis and hermeneutics [...]
For our purposes at this point, the most important thing is that in our contemporary way of interpreting the Bible, we begin with exegesis and only then turn to hermeneutics [...] We move from the narrow to the broad. And our reason for this is that we believe starting with the broad would lead us to read our own theological ideas into the passage rather than reading the passages own meaning out of its context [...]
At this point, we have to recognize that the way we are trying to ensure accuracy in biblical interpretation is fundamentally different from the way the early church went about the same task. The Fathers had no qualms whatsoever about reading preconceived theological ideas into a given passages, as long as they got those ideas from elsewhere in the Bible.
pp.109-110, Don Fairbairn, Life in the Trinity)
Observing how this works in Irenaeus and Augustine:
[For Ireneaus] the key to interpreting the parables (which he finds obscure and therefore difficult) is clearer statements elsewhere in Scripture and not the context of the parables themselves. And [for] Augustine, notice that when there is ambiguity about a certain passage, one should first consult the rule of faith (which he describes as both the clearer passages of Scripture and the church's authoritative statements about it), and only if that fails should one consult the context of the passage[:]
"When words used literally cause ambiguity in Scripture, we must first determine whether we have mispunctuated or misconstrued them. When investigation reveals an uncertainty as to how a locution should be pointed or construed, the rule of faith should be consulted as it is found in the more open places of the Scriptures and in the authority of the Church... But if both meanings, or all of them, in the event that there are several, remain ambiguous after the faith has been consulted, then it is necessary to examine the context of the preceding and following parts surrounding the ambiguous place."
On Doc., bk. 3, chap.2
(pp.112-113, Don Fairbairn, Life in the Trinity)