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Inductive Bible Study: A Comprehensive Guide to the Practice of Hermeneutics Hardcover – April 1, 2011
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From the Back Cover
"For half a century, Robert Traina's method of inductive Bible study has taught students the most important critical-thinking skill of all: how to read! His method trains people to attend closely to what is in a text and what is not in a text, to follow a text's argument, and to map its narrative flow. Now David Bauer adds to the collaborative mix his own formidable strengths as an experienced teacher of inductive Bible study and as an internationally recognized biblical scholar. Together they present a finely honed guide to the process of observation, interpretation, and appropriation, enhanced with examples of how to execute each step and with helpful discussions about both the place of their approach in the landscape of contemporary hermeneutical debates and the connections between critical approaches and their inductive method. This volume lays an essential foundation for critical analysis and careful exegesis."--David A. deSilva, Ashland Theological Seminary
"I have personally used Bauer and Traina's method of inductive Bible study for more than twenty-five years and can testify to its effectiveness for understanding Scripture in ways that are both academically responsible and pastorally relevant. The approach allows Scripture to reveal itself, to speak on its own terms in ways that overcome the limitations and presuppositions of its readers. This volume presents that time-honored approach for a new generation--and it is a remarkable achievement! Students will appreciate a text that is so immediately accessible and, eventually, will come to treasure this volume as a handbook to be consulted repeatedly throughout their professional careers."--Mark Allan Powell, Trinity Lutheran Seminary
"Many of us learned years ago to begin Bible study for ourselves with 'observation, interpretation, and application,' doing as much as possible on our own before turning to other resources. We may not have known one of the classic sources that outlined this method in comprehensive detail by Robert Traina. Now masterfully updated, with state-of-the-art scholarship and bibliographic references, this tome has been made useful for a new generation by David Bauer and Robert Traina. Part hermeneutics, part exegesis, part philosophy and logic, with numerous illustrations from Scripture itself, Inductive Bible Study does not supplant the standard works in each of these areas but helpfully supplements many of them."--Craig L. Blomberg, Denver Seminary
About the Author
David R. Bauer (PhD, Union Theological Seminary, Virginia) is Ralph Waldo Beeson Professor of Inductive Biblical Studies and dean of the School of Biblical Interpretation and Proclamation at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky. He is the author of several books, including An Annotated Guide to Biblical Resources for Ministry. Robert A. Traina (1921-2010) was professor of English Bible at The Biblical Seminary in New York and at Asbury Theological Seminary for over forty years. He received his PhD from Drew University and authored the influential classic Methodical Bible Study.
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It is difficult to know how much Dr. Traina and Dr. Bauer collaborated on this volume given that Dr. Traina died in November, 2010. His contribution to this volume might very well be the lecture materials he presented in his classes. If that is the case, Dr. Bauer has done an commendable job of elaborating on those notes, filling in inevitable gaps that occur when explaining such a complicated process to beginning students. Those of us who studied under Dr. Traina (I majored in English Bible under his tutelage), will realize when reading this book that this is Dr. Bauer's book. He is to be commended for an excellent volume.
Dr. Bauer divided his volume into 5 parts. An introductory unit explaining the philosophy of inductive study contains the most glaring weakness of the book. I would like to have seen a chapter on why we study the Bible. In my own teaching, my students cannot articulate why they study the Bible apart from broad generalities. Why we study the Bible dictates the method we use to study it.
The next four parts explain in detail the four major steps of Bible study: Observation and Asking, Answering or Interpretation, Evaluating and Appropriation (what we have often called "Application", and the most neglected step of all, Correlation. A lengthy appendix addresses significant issues related to the inductive method.
The extensive bibliography at the end is thorough.
Two other weaknesses come to mind: First, the book references a website on the inductive method, but the website needs more development to be useful. Second, in my conversation with Dr. Traina, he told me that he intended to provide a model of inductive study in his second volume. While this book does contain very helpful examples, it would be considerably more helpful if it provided a model of inductive study. The website would be a good place to provide such a model. My own website ([...]) will provide such a model soon.
This book is not for laypeople (See David L. Thompson's book, Bible Study that Works for an excellent resource for laypeople). It will be widely used in academia. And, despite its thorough explanation of inductive methodology, it does not take the place of interaction between a qualified instructor and his or her students. That being said, I highly recommend this volume.
Robert Traina has been advocating for a simple and systematic approach to studying the bible for years. He taught Biblical Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky from 1966 - 1988. His first book, Methodological Bible Study was published in 1952. It underwent a number of revisions and republications with the most recent being in 2002. Now, David Bauer collaborated with Dr. Traina until his death to produce Inductive Bible Study as a sequel to Traina's Methodological Bible Study. As a student on Traina, Bauer continues in his legacy and influence with this latest volume.
Inductive Bible Study is built upon the simple premise from Traina's earlier works. The process begins with Observation, moves to interpretation and culminates in application. The simplicity of the method is underscored by the fact that we all move through these steps intuitively. Whether it's with a book, a billboard, or the newspaper, we follow this process - even if unaware. They also expand this process to explore various other kinds of study and the method to study books as a whole.
Bauer and Traina have compiled one great book that ought to help many people read their Bibles better. They offer many charts and instructions to help the reader. While the novice might be better served by beginning with Traina's initial volume - Methodological Bible Study - those who are familiar with their Bibles or who have had some training in bible study would be helped by this book. It also makes a great refresher for those like me who have taken a few hermeneutics and exegesis classes. Excellence in any area of life - bible study included - begins with the mastery of the fundamentals. Inductive Bible Study will help you master the fundamentals.