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How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth Paperback – Deluxe Edition, November 9, 2003
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From the Back Cover
Your Guide to Understanding the Bible
Understanding the Bible isnt for the few, the gifted, the scholarly. The Bible is accessible. Its meant to be read and comprehended by everyone from armchair readers to seminary students. A few essential insights into the Bible can clear up a lot of misconceptions and help you grasp the meaning of Scripture and its application to your 21st-century life.
More than half a million people have turned to How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth to inform their reading of the Bible. This third edition features substantial revisions that keep pace with current scholarship, resources, and culture. Changes include: Updated language A new authors preface Several chapters rewritten for better readability Updated list of recommended commentaries and resources
Covering everything from translational concerns to different genres of biblical writing, How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth is used all around the world. In clear, simple language, it helps you accurately understand the different parts of the Bibletheir meaning for ancient audiences and their implications for you todayso you can uncover the inexhaustible worth that is in Gods Word.
About the Author
Gordon D. Fee (PhD, University of Southern California) is Professor Emeritus of New Testament Studies at Regent College, Vancouver, British Columbia.
Douglas Stuart is Professor of Old Testament and Chair of the Division of Biblical Studies at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He holds the B.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard University. Among his earlier writings are Studies in Early Hebrew Meter, Old Testament Exegesis: A Primer for Students and Pastors, and Favorite Old Testament Passages.
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Top Customer Reviews
Well, no. For one thing the Bible itself tells you that you need the Holy Spirit to help understand, so there is that.
But you also need to study to show yourself approved, meditate and approach it in a humble matter. The Bible was written over 2,000 years ago and in some portions even far longer. It is possible, just possible mind you, that there have been changes in language and culture that require some work on the reader's part to understand what is being said the same way a hearer of that message would have understood it in their day.
That is where this book comes into play. This is both a good introductory text for the student who wants to enter into the realms of textual, historical, redactive, literary etc criticism. It is also written to be at the level of the average layman who wants to understand more for their own study and growth.
Evangelical Christians often get very nervous about this type of book. They see much that has served to diminish the Bible over the years as coming from the "liberal" religious, academic camps as seeking to diminish what the Bible plainly says.
As delicately as I can state it ...... Evangelicals need to get over it and enter the field themselves. If the Bible is true, it must be true enough to stand tough scrutiny. The opinion of this reviewer is that it does stand that scrutiny, but as a student of the Bible you must expect over time that your understanding will change and grow. That is called discipleship and growth. It's a good thing!
This book, better than most, comes to the Bible and maintains an attitude of respect toward the text itself consistent with what Evangelicals believe with regard to inspiration while introducing the student or curious Christian as to how to study the Bible and get more out of it that you ever did before.
Where great commentaries give you fish, this book teaches you how to fish and feed yourself intellectually and spiritually from the Bible.
Don't be threatened by it. It is a good thing!
This is very worthwhile book for those who see the Bible as spiritually unique and also helpful for the student who simply wants to know how to understand it better.
I have to agree with Rich Nathan when he writes, "The more I study the Bible, the more I see that biblical Christianity is thoroughly supernatural in its orientation... Why shouldn't Christians today be as thoroughly supernatural in orientation as the church in the Book of Acts?"(7) J.I. Packer(8) agrees with Rich Nathan(9) and Ken Wilson(10) when Packer writes in the forward of their book, "This is a book that should not have been needed. But it is needed, and in some quarters quite urgently. It seeks to lead polarized people out of some tangles of negative and impoverished opinion in which they are currently caught. One group sees the other as weak in the head, while the second rates the first as week in the heart. Each forfeits some wisdom and maturity by declining to learn from the other."(11)
In addition to their relationships, the church touted and recommended the book How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth by Gordon D. Fee(12), an ordained Assemblies of God Minister.(13) Once again the contradiction is striking. I would be delighted if their purpose was unity(14) or an agreement to disagree on a non-essential doctrine or, at minimum, a charitable act of brotherly love. In their statement of faith it states the following about Eternal Security,
All genuine believers once they have been reconciled to God will remain in Him eternally. Due to the Christian's rebirth through salvation, his/her adoption into the Kingdom of God, the sealing of the Holy Spirit, and the clear and repeated promises of God, it is impossible for a genuine believer to lose salvation. All teaching to the contrary is scriptural heresy.(15) However, because of God's holy and righteous nature, He will discipline and correct His children in love when they sin.
The church leadership unequivocally indicts any person, who teaches a "genuine believer" can forfeit his or her salvation, as necessarily being a heretic.(16) A stance I cannot find in church history or in the contemporary church. I have found more charity from Reformed theologians like R.C. Sproul and J. I. Packer. Even Sproul will concede Arminians are Christians, albeit "barely."(17) It's plainly an absurdity to hold to this stringent doctrine, yet affirm pastors and theologians that are clearly antithetical to their article of faith both in orthodoxy and orthopraxy.
If you are not familiar with Pentecostal doctrine, e.g., Four Square or Assemblies of God, you may not understand the incongruences I have brought to light. Pentecostals, Methodists, The Church of the Nazarene, Churches of Christ, etc., generally, maintain a soteriology that includes Conditional Election(18) and Unlimited Atonement(19) and do not hold to Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement and Perseverance of the Saints (Eternal Security) in the Reformed or Calvinistic sense. There are exceptions and noted ones such as Wayne Grudem(20), who adheres to Calvinism while fellowshipping in a Vineyard(21) Church. The Vineyard has been scorned, ridiculed and criticized by Grudem's fellow Reformed and Calvinist brethren, e.g., D. A. Carson(22), for which Grudem provided rebuttal.(23)
I endeavor, with personal detail, to illustrate why I found it necessary to not only read Dr. Fee's book How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth, but also read How to Read the Bible Book by Book, and Paul, the Spirit, and the People of God. Moreover, I wanted to demonstrate how convoluted Christian doctrines can be, often unnecessarily so, and the doctrine of salvation in particular. Furthermore, to show how conflated our view of Christian doctrines have become and specifically the doctrine of salvation.
That said I found Dr. Fee's book, How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth, enlightening to say the least. It caused me to be more discerning and holistic in my Bible study and book reading.
Dr. Fee writes, "...the basic concern of this book is with the understanding of the different types of literature (the genres) that make up the Bible. Although we do speak to other issues, this generic approach has controlled all that has been done. We affirm that there is a real difference between a psalm, on the one hand, and an epistle on the other. Our concern is to help the reader to read and study the psalms as poems, and the epistles as letters. We hope to show that these differences are vital and should affect both the way one reads them and how one is to understand their message for today. The great urgency that gave birth to this book is hermeneutics; we wrote especially to help believers wrestle with the questions of application. Many of the urgent problems in the church today are basically struggles with bridging the hermeneutical gap-- with moving from the "then and there" of the original text to the "here and now " of our own life settings. But this also means bridging the gap between the scholar and layperson... The concern of the scholar is primarily with what the text meant; the concern of the layperson is usually with what it means. The believing scholar insists that we must have both. Reading the Bible with an eye only to its meaning for us can lead to a great deal of nonsense as well as to every imaginable kind of error-- because it lacks controls. Fortunately, most believers are blessed with at least a measure of that most important of all hermeneutical skills-- common sense... Our concern, therefore, must be with both dimensions. The believing scholar insists that the biblical texts first of all mean what they meant. That is, we believe that God's Word for us today is first of all precisely what his Word was to them. Thus we have two tasks: First, our task is to find out what the text originally meant; this is called exegesis. Second, we must learn to hear that same meaning in the variety of new or different contexts of our own day; we call this second task hermeneutics. In its classical usage, the term "hermeneutics" covers both tasks, but in this book we consistently use it only in this narrower sense. To do both tasks well should be the goal of Bible study."(24)
Dr. Fee writes, "The need to interpret is also to be found by noting what goes on around us all the time. A simple look at the contemporary church, for example, makes it abundantly clear that not all "plain meanings" are equally plain to all. It is of more than passing interest that most of those in today's church who argue that women should keep silent in church on the basis of 1 Corinthians 14: 34- 35 at the same time deny the validity of speaking in tongues and prophecy, the very context in which the "silence" passage occurs. And those who affirm on the basis of 1 Corinthians 11: 2- 16 that women as well as men should pray and prophesy usually deny that women must do so with their heads covered. For some, the Bible "plainly teaches" believers ' baptism by immersion; others believe they can make a biblical case for infant baptism. Both "eternal security" and the possibility of "losing one's salvation" are preached in the church, but never by the same person! Yet both are affirmed as the plain meaning of biblical texts. Even the two authors of this book have some disagreements as to what certain texts "plainly" mean. Yet all of us are reading the same Bible, and we all are trying to be obedient to what the text "plainly" means."(25)
I recommend this book because there are a bevy of such books written by the Reformed and Calvinist authors, but very few by a Pentecostal theologian and pastor.
If you are anything like me, undereducated, not Biblically educated, have limited intellect, definitely not the sharpest tool in the shed, or you're nothing like me or you just haven't taken the time and made the effort to learn and exercise sound exegesis and hermeneutics to understand the Bible for yourself; rightly dividing the word of truth, this book is for you. If any of this rings true, then this book is a must read and should be a fixture in your library. Although it is considered a primer, I found it very informative and challenging. I recommend it to all who are or want to be a student of God's word and His disciple.
"In the words of the child that moved Augustine to read a passage from Romans at his conversion experience, we say, "Tolle, lege"--"Take up and read." The Bible is God's eternal Word. Read it, understand it, obey it."(26)
Written by authors who are recognized authorities.
Endorsed by the wider Christian (Protestant) world.
Easy to read and understand.
Concise and to the point.
At the layman level (though not book at the basic level).
Great list of resources for doing our own hermeneutical studies.
My only CON is that the book references a lot of outside material to supplement it. Not material to supplement your (our) study of the Bible in hermeneutical endeavors (which is does), but material to actually supplement the book itself. It is almost as if the writers spared themselves writing about certain concepts since material is already out there about it. For example they make the proposition that most people do not know how to read a book (which is true). Therefore they suggest Mortimer Adler’s “How to Read a Book.” Rather than give a few abridged highlights it is if they are saying, “Stop here, read such-and-such a book, then pick up where you left off.” Perhaps it is just me, but to me it seems to have left a few holes in the book. Perhaps to did it to keep the book small and to not overwhelm the reader with too much material.
Otherwise, I loved the book and highly recommend it to anyone interested in finding out how to really read and study the Bible for all its worth.