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How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth: Fourth Edition Kindle Edition
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1. Note that this edition is different than some of the previous editions. I'm not sure when the content changed. But, this is quite different in both pagination and content. So, it will be almost impossible to use two different versions in the same class.
2. The language is quite nuanced and oftentimes complex. Many of my students are non-native English speakers and find the book difficult to follow. So, it's important to keep in mind that although it is written for use by non-academics, it is still a very academic book.
3. Unless you are teaching your course as a genre-based course, this book is difficult to integrate into curriculum except as supplementary reading. It doesn't list general principles but specific points to consider in interpreting each genre. This is both a strength and a challenge to a teacher in integrating the textbook well.
4. By the authors' own admission, there are many principles explained throughout the book that are then used within the book to illustrate points that are oftentimes contentious even within evangelical circles. So, in some of the finer shades of hermeneutics, it is important to remember that the authors are still interpreters among many others. This applies especially in discussions about cultural relativity.
But, again, in summary, this is an excellent resource for grasping the challenge of interpreting all of Scripture.
In summary, Fee and Stuart book serves as a bridge between academics and lay people on the subject of understanding and applying scripture. Because of the excellent structure of the book, people can read the book with Fee and Stuart's opinions, and then form their own ideas. The breath of their knowledge will definitely help one interact with the Bible better.
Ok first the facts: my seminary professor forced me to do a book critique on this book. At first I hated it, especially because I had the third edition. I took my teacher to task three times and had to stop reading the third edition. Then-hooray-I found out the fourth edition was published and even though the content isn't all that different; at least I didn't have to deal with ten year old scholarship and the TNIV notations. I made it through the first three chapters, and it was mostly clear sailing after then!:) This book is a book on hermeneutics (understanding what scriptures meant back then and applying it correctly to your life) of the various types of writing types found in the Bible so that people can understand their Bibles better in their devotional and study times. This book bridges the gap between scholarly hermeneutics textbooks and the general public. While it is tough to wade through at times, it is probably the best popular hermeneutics book, because of its easy chapter structure.The book would be best for people who have tried to understand the Scriptures but need some extra help. The best idea in the book is to read books of the Bible in one sitting. A close second is to consider whether the type of literature one is reading can be applied in one's life. The best advice I can give is for your first reading of this book, skip the sections that attack doctrines that you hold dear and move on so you can learn from their scholarly opinions.
The outline: Bible study starts with a good Bible translation uses the latest scholarship, is egalitarian, and uses the best Hebrew and Greek manuscripts like the NIV or NRSV. Read a book through a few times, then break it into sections and paragraphs for concentrated study. A passage should generally mean what it did to the original hearer; unless it is prophecy, and then it can be forward-looking as well. Some culturally-relative things that applied then are not useful now.
The Epistles are generally letters that arise from a certain event. Old Testament narratives are non-allegorical and written on three levels: the universal plan of God, the covenant formed with Israel, and the individual narratives. Acts is a mostly non-normative story of the Holy Spirit-led mission to the Gentiles that shows the practice of the Early Church. In the four Gospels, Jesus used parables, metaphors, similes, and proverbs in different contexts to teach people things, especially about the "already here, but not yet" Kingdom of God. The key to understanding parables is to identify who the audience was and what they would have understood from it. These can be translated into culturally relevant language, to get an equivalent response. Old Testament laws and covenants are important because of their relationship between God and Israel, while only those commandments repeated in the New Testament (like the Ten Commandments and morality codes) apply to Christians. The Prophets were sent to specific people at a specific time, to usually warn Israelites when they were not following God's Law revealed to Moses. Psalms are different types of generally metaphorical poetic songs of worship from humanity to God that can be used today in similar situations. Read the books of Wisdom Literature in full to find theological truth. Revelation is an apocalyptic warning to Christians for a future time grounded in Old Testament imagery.
Doctrines this writer thought might in error included Stuart and Fee's biases toward the anti-properity/health Gospel, egalitarianism, and the NIV Bible. I believe in a God who is my Shepherd and I shall not want, and wants me to have good things. I can figure out when "humanity/women is/are in view" and I'd rather have the original pronouns. Everyone has a favorite translation- mine is the NKJV- I think the Greek textus receptus is better with about a thousand similar books compared to the three very early but contradictory books of the critical text. Some rules, like "personal applications of the scriptures must have occurred to the original hearers," and no "proof texting," without considering a whole chapter, book and /or Bible theology, reduce chances of a scripture getting misinterpreted. But, they seem arbitrary. Personal revelation is discounted while plain meaning is trumpeted to rightly guard against misinterpretation. But scripture (Deut. 29:29, Ps 25:14, Eph. 3:5, 1 Cor. 2:10) indicates that there is personal revelation and the Holy Spirit isn't limited to teaching the original plain meaning. Fee and Stuart make good points about how people emphasize certain scriptures and not others, especially in 1 Corinthians. But they have their own opinions about scriptural verses, like the story of the rich man going through the eye of a needle, which many others, including Jews by birth, would dispute.
To understand their biases here's a quick biography on them both: Dr. Gordon Fee received his Ph.D. in New Testament Studies from the University of Southern California. Fee taught at Wheaton College and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and is at Regent now. Fee is an ordained Assemblies of God minister and pastored several churches. He is a member of the "Board of Reference" for "Christians for Biblical Equality." Fee has published more than 15 books, including many New Testament Commentaries like Philippians, 1 Corinthians, 1 and 2 Timothy and 1 and 2 Thessalonians. Fee is the retiring editor of the New International Commentary on the New Testament. In 1985 Fee wrote the book The Disease of the Health and Wealth Gospels. Fee is a member of the Committee on Bible Translation, which produces the New International Version Bible (NIV). Douglas Stuart is the current Old Testament Professor at Gordon-Conwell, an independent evangelical seminary. He is the Senior Pastor of Linebrook Church, an independent church, where he describes himself as a conservative Baptist minister. He has written Old Testament Commentaries on Hosea, Ezekiel, Malachi, and Jonah, a book on Old Testament exegesis and many articles for popular Christian and Hebrew magazines. He is active in the Evangelical Theological Society.
Nowadays, it seems very hard to find a great resource that attempts to tell you what the bible actually says (note: not what it actually means to us, that comes later) instead of what people thinks it means. This particular book as "opened my eyes" in a sense that I have now have a toolkit for asking what the text meant to the original readers (exegesis) and then further applying what it means for the readers (me, you, us) today (hermeneutics). Those two things, the book points out, are often combined and not separated as they should be.
I'll keep my review short and sweet. If you want to be equipped to read the bible and ask questions of the text on your own, this is the book for you. I give fair warning that if you go to a church like mine (Independent Baptist), you will find yourself disagreeing with the book in some of the passages it discusses. Again, I'd ask you to consider what this book says prayerfully instead of just dismissing it.
Regardless of the faith tradition and cultural background one comes from, this book offers a moderate yet accurate method for interpreting the Bible accurately. I feel that much disparity within Christianity is a result of stubborn dogma as a result of poor biblical interpretation. This book helps to correct much of that.
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Challenges your ways of viewing The Bible