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Basic Guide to Interpreting the Bible, A: Playing by the Rules Paperback – February 1, 1997

4.5 out of 5 stars 40 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

This accessible guide to interpreting the Bible helps students identify various biblical genres, understand the meaning of biblical texts, and apply that meaning to contemporary life. The second edition has been completely revised throughout.

"Bob Stein is a wise and seasoned interpreter of Scripture, and these qualities are on full display in this wonderfully practical book on how to interpret the Bible. Readers will find here a sound hermeneutical approach that is applied to a variety of genres in the Scriptures. This is an ideal book both for university and seminary courses and for laypersons who desire a guide to understanding the Scriptures."--Thomas R. Schreiner, James Buchanan Harrison Professor of Biblical Interpretation, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

"In lucid and engaging style, Robert Stein explores an author-centered hermeneutic for biblical interpretation. The reader benefits from clear definitions of key concepts and creative examples of these concepts in action, as well as exercises that can be used to augment the learning process. An accessible introduction to a complex topic."--Jeannine K. Brown, professor of New Testament, Bethel Seminary

Praise for the first edition

"The book is highly readable (no mean feat these days) and very suitable for use in colleges and congregational adult education; one might even consider using it as a supplemental text in a seminary course."--Rich Erickson, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society

"Stein's work is both a fine introduction to the task of biblical hermeneutics for the novice and an innovative refresher for the veteran teacher or pastor."--Jeffrey T. Riddle, Faith & Mission

"Stein has provided a very useful guide to biblical interpretation. While written for people first learning to study the Bible, it contains a wealth of information for more advanced students."--Dónal O'Mathúna, Ashland Theological Journal --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Robert H. Stein (Ph.D., Princeton Theological Seminary), now retired, most recently served as senior professor of New Testament interpretation at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He previously taught at Bethel Seminary. A world-renowned scholar of the Synoptic Gospels, he is the author of several books, including Mark in the Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, Studying the Synoptic Gospels, Luke, and Jesus the Messiah. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Baker Academic; Edition Unstated edition (February 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801021014
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801021015
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.9 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,120,402 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Dr. Stein's book was a pleasure to read, full of great information, and very well written. I particularly enjoyed the frequent illustrations he used to explain many of the concepts he presented. The only reason I did not give 5 stars to this book is to agree with a previous reviewer that some of the concepts and language Dr. Stein uses require the reader to have a prior understanding of hermeneutics. Having this grounding before reading the book helped me to understand his presentation the first time through, but as I read I was aware that someone without such a background may have experiencd some problems. My suggestion: If you are a seminary student or pastor - read it, I believe that you will enjoy it! If you are an interested lay person who may not have had any experience in the area of Hermeneutics, read it but have someone (Pastor, teacher, friend, etc...) that has dealt with some of the technical language handy to ask questions. This book is a great source of information and anyone interested in studying the Bible would do well to add it to their reading list.
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Format: Paperback
If you're interested in learning the basics of proper Biblical hermeneutics, this is a book for you. Stein does a good job presenting the material in an easy-to-read fashion, yet writes in a very scholarly manner. The book is divided into two sections: The first section deals with the general rules of interpretation (the first four chapters); the second section deals with how to interpret proverbs, prophecies, poetry, idioms, hyperboles, parables, narratives, epistles, covenants, laws, and songs (chapters 5-13). The book is generally geared towards the average lay person or beginner seminary student. It can be used as a technical hermeneutical aid or as a tool to assist the average believer in how to read the Bible properly during Bible studies and quiet times. Stein's book is a valuable resource that should be available in every Christian bookshelf.
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Being a student of Dr. Stein, I was amazed at how easy it was to read. There are many hermenutics texts available, but most are written on a higher leven than many are used to. This book was actually written so the lay person could understand it without any problems. This is an excellent text for beginning to learn how to faithfully interpret God's Word.
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This is a great book for understanding Biblical interpretation. I used it for a Master's level Hermeneutics class and found it to be a great asset to what the Professor was teaching. It has also helped me in my daily personal studies in gaining greater insight into what God is telling us through His written word.
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Stein seeks to provide a clear, adequate, and correct hermeneutical framework in order to help readers understand and apply biblical texts to their own life. In chapters one through four Stein introduces and defines his hermeneutical philosophy, its terms, its literary forms, and the role of the Spirit in interpretation. In chapters five through fourteen, Stein details the characteristics of each genre, along with the principles for interpretation corresponding to each genre. He also provides a list of questions at the end of each chapter that encourages the reader to think more deeply about the how each genre influences interpretation.
Critical Analysis
In chapter one, Stein provides a clear explanation of the roles that the author, the text, and the reader have in the process of interpreting the bible. Stein interacts with differing views, answers objections to his own view, and offers logical and convincing arguments with biblical and extra biblical evidence. Chapter two includes helpful figures and charts to clarify hermeneutical terms and their relationship to one another. In chapter three, Stein explains the role of the Spirit in biblical interpretation with scriptural evidence and addresses common misconceptions. Chapter four explains how the literary form influences a text’s meaning through numerous biblical examples. In chapter five, Stein uses the example of Mark 1:2-8 to show how genre influence interpretation and focus (88). In chapter six, Stein gives two principles for understanding OT covenants: their gracious nature and already-existing covenantal relationship (103). In chapter seven, Stein shows the importance of parallelism in poetry by explaining Col. 1:15-20 (114-116).
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Format: Paperback
I am very surprised to find that some people thought this book was difficult to work through. I found Stein very clear and informative. He even defines all the terms he uses frequently so as to remove all ambiguity. Not that these terms are difficult to grasp (ie. implication, significance, subject matter). Anyone who feels comfortable reading something weightier than airport paperbacks should benefit from this work.
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Stein walks through the rule needed when interpreting a text from a different language and culture, i.e. the Bible. These rules should be obvious, like what did the original author intend to say in the text? Or, the text means what it says, not what we want it to say, but there are timeless principles that do apply to us today. The first section of the book presents the General Rules of Interpretation (Hermeneutics). This section itself is worth the price of the book. The second section talks about interpreting various genres, which Stein call "Rules for the Individual Games." That section is helpful to anyone who wants to read any genre intelligently. Finally, there are helpful picture and tables throughout the book that illustrate key points that Stein is making. I found them to be very helpful. This is a must read for any Pastor, Sunday School teacher, Seminary Student or Professor.
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