I was able to get my hands on Crossway’s “Reading the Word of God in the Presence of God: A Handbook for Biblical Interpretation” by Vern S. Poythress. It is a very challenging read for multiple reasons. You really do have to focus on what the author is saying and the reading gets more complex the further you read into the book. Crossway generously sent me a PDF of this book for me to do an honest review.
I would give this book a 8.1 out of my normal 10 point rating scale. On a “5 star” scale that some websites use, I would give it a 4 star rating.
In full disclosure, I was not required or requested by Crossway 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 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
The opening sentence in this book is “This book is a practical handbook to help people grow in skill in interpreting the Bible”. The author states that the approach of his writing is geared to be more simple in the early part of the book and then graduating to more and more complexity as you read further in the book. I do have to admit that the author does really go into great depths as to different methods of reading and interpreting the Bible can be done. With that said, yes, the early part of the book does keep it fairly simple, but quickly dives into a sea of detail and complexity. I think this book would be good for a seminary student or a pastor, but with the writing style utilized, I feel that a majority of the believers out there would feel somewhat lost after the first chapters. So, I would recommend this book to those that are very serious about diving into the deep waters of Biblical interpretation methodology, but not recommended for people who don’t want to devote some serious reading and studying time to understand where the author goes with this book. In some instances, you may need to take a lot of notes or underline/highlight and then go back to look at your notes as you progress through the book. The author does state that “even beginners can use the early stages of our approach…” which is up to about chapter 4 or 6, but beyond that, most beginners will likely feel lost.
I received an electronic copy of this book in exchange for this review from Crossway and all opinions are my own.
DESCRIPTION OF THIS BOOK:
Type of Book: Bible – Hermeneutics
Publication Date: March 31, 2016
ISBN-13 of Bible Reviewed: 978-1433543241 (I reviewed the electronic version though)
Price: At the time of writing this review, the cheapest place to get this Hermeneutics (Bible interpretation) book from is Christianbook.com. They have it for $24.99 – suggested retail from the publisher is $35.00. See below for a breakout and links to the different prices from some major re-sellers. Please note that these prices do not include any potential shipping charges.
Dimensions: 6 wide x 9” high x 1.2″ thick
Weight: 1.4 pounds
Goal of Book:
This book was written to help people grow in skill in interpreting the Bible. I feel that the book does accomplish this, however it is done at a more advanced learner level progressively getting more complex the further into the book you read.
My Favorite Part:
If you have looked at my training classes on Inductive Bible Studies, you will notice some similarities in the steps to studying the Bible. The author breaks down the steps into an outline form, which I find very nicely done and he progressively adds new portions to the outline approach as the complexity continues to grow as you read through the book. It also has some very nicely designed charts to help you in this process.
I would give a cautious recommendation for this book to those that are very serious about diving into the deep waters of Biblical interpretation methodology. With that said, I don’t think I can highly recommended this book for people who don’t want to devote some serious reading and studying time to understand where the author goes with this book. Beginners may start to feel a little lost after the early chapters in the book.
Tables and Illustrations
Part I – Introductory Principles for Interpretation
1. Foundations for Interpretation
2. Principles for Interpreting the Bible
3. Complimentary Starting Points for Interpretation
Part II – Simple Steps In Interpretation
4. Three Simple Steps in Interpretation
5. The Three Steps as Perspectives
6. Correlation: Comparing Passages
Part III – Issues With Time
8. Original Contexts
9. Original Communication
Part IV – Issues With Authorship
10. Dual Authorship
11. Difficulties with Authorship
Part V – Issues With Language
12. Basic Linguistic Structure
13. Understanding Linguistic Subsystems
14. Units in Contrast, Variation, and Distribution
16. Figurative Language
17. Words and Concepts
20. Using Commentaries
Part VI – Redemptive-Historical Interpretation
21. The History of Redemption
22. Christocentric Interpretation
24. Additional Stages Reflecting on Typology
25. Varieties of Analogues
26. Varieties of Types
Part VII – Assessment
29. Hermeneutics Outline in Detail
30. ALternate Paths of Interpretation
31. The Fulfillment Approach
32. Boundaries for Interpretation
Part VII – Examples
33. Proverbs 10:1
34. Psalm 4:8
35. Amos 1:3
Appendix A: Redeeming How We Interpret
Appendix B: Secular Views of Meaning
Appendix C: Interpreting Human Texts
Appendix D: Redeemed Analogues to Critical Methods
Appendix E: Philosophical Hermeneutics
From the publisher’s website: The purpose of Crossway has been, from its founding as a not-for-profit ministry in 1938, to publish gospel-centered, Bible-centered content that will honor our Savior and serve his Church. We seek to help people understand the massive implications of the gospel and the truth of God’s Word, for all of life, for all eternity, and for the glory of God.
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