There is a definite issue afoot when it comes to sound biblical interpretation and for that matter, biblical literacy. Many sermons are certainly preached in churches across the world and many are being trained in Bible colleges and seminaries. With that said, do the people in the pews, the pastors delivering the sermons, the students in school, or the professors and academics training those bound for the ministry know how to understand and apply Scripture? Unfortunately in some cases the answer is a resounding no.
This means there is the need for sound biblical interpretation and to better practice the discipline known as hermeneutics. Now this discipline is not just for academics. However, many of the books on this subject matter are written with the scholar, academic, and Bible college/seminarian in mind with the average laymen often left out in the proverbial cold. Kregel Academic, in an effort to address this disparity, has provided an abridged version of Andreas Kostenberger and Richard Patterson’s excellent larger work Invitation to Biblical Interpretation. This abridged effort aptly named For the Love of God’s Word makes the discipline of hermeneutics accessible to the laity, providing them a solid foundation upon which to understand and engage in sound biblical interpretation.
Kostenberger and Patterson rightly note that “Biblical interpretation is hard work. The one who wants to master the handling of God’s Word must be like the apprentice of a master craftsperson. Over time, and through practice, that apprentice will learn to skillfully use many tools. Likewise, the biblical interpreter must know what interpretive tools to use and how to use them. This is what it means to “correctly handle” the word of truth.”
Throughout this excellent book, the authors provide the reader with those necessary tools of the biblical interpretation trade. By first setting the groundwork and foundation of the “hermeneutical triad” of history, literature, and theology, the authors enable the reader to have a working understanding of how to approach the biblical text. God’s Word was written within the confines of actual history. Thus, when we read Scripture we are reading about real life events involving actual people, actual nations, both with impacts on not just salvation history, but all of history. Understanding the setting of the prophetic books for example, is essential in grasping what those prophets were addressing. Each book of Scripture is written in a specific genre meaning there are hermeneutical rules for engaging history as opposed to grasping books of poetry. Finally, after engaging those two parts of the triad, one can dive into the theological meaning and application of the passage.
I truly appreciated that the authors provide objectives for the reader to reach and the fact these objectives are provided at the beginning of each chapter. This approach gives the reader something to think about as they are reading, helping them to hone in on the specific purpose the author is tying to get across in that chapter. Furthermore, an outline is provided so the specific topics of that chapter are not a mystery.
Overall, I found the discussion and information to be sound, informative, insightful, and written in a manner that all believers will find useful. There certainly are what I would call “nerdier” discussion points provided in some of the chapters such as an engagement of how to identify a chiastic structure in a passage or noting the various types of prophetic narrative. Even when those more academic minded aspects of hermeneutics are discussed, the information is presented in a way that will not be over the head of those who have never seen or heard such terms before. In fact, they make it their focus to present the information in as practicable a manner as possible so that terms are not just nerdy terms, but rather are tools that can be used in everyday Bible study.
All believers are commanded to be students of Scripture. For that reason, I highly recommend For the Love of God’s Word as an essential treasure trove of information for those both new to the disciple of hermeneutics and even those who are familiar with and use all of the tools noted in this book. Most importantly, the information provided in this book will help you better understand God Word and any book that has that focus and successfully accomplishes that mission will receive a resounding vote of support from me. This book does just that so I encourage you to get a copy and use the tools contained within its pages.
This book is available for purchase from Kregel Academic by clicking here.
I received this book for free from Kregel Academic for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”