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Knowing Scripture Paperback – March 25, 2009
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"A contemporary classic to learning, understanding and applying scripture for beginning Bible students and practiced theologians. Sproul is a master at both teaching the Bible and in studying in a way that draws you closer to the heart and mind of God. In this revised edition of the worl, Sproul provides even more guidelines for reading, study and application of the Bible's truths." (On Mission, 2009 Pastor's Edition)
"Probably the best, most readable introduction to biblical interpretation available." (Knowing & Doing, Spring 2009)
"This little book should be required reading for any beginning student of the Bible." (Christianity Today)
"The Bible excites him and his excitement is infectious." (J. I. Packer)
About the Author
R. C. Sproul (PhD, Whitefield Theological Seminary) is founder and chairman of Ligonier Ministries, an international Christian education ministry located near Orlando, Florida. He is also co-pastor of Saint Andrew's Chapel in Sanford, Florida, chancellor of Reformation Bible College and executive editor of Tabletalk magazine. He can be heard on the radio program Renewing Your Mind, which is broadcast on hundreds of radio outlets in the United States and around the world. Sproul has written more than ninety books, including The Holiness of God, Faith Alone and Everyone's a Theologian. He has contributed dozens of articles to national evangelical publications, has spoken at conferences, churches and schools around the world, and also serves as general editor of the Reformation Study Bible.
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This was my very first book by my now favorite author (and I’ll be honest, role model), R.C. Sproul. I was struck by how lucid and yet penetrating his writing was, since after all, he is one of the most prolific and renown theologians of our time. He has such a gift of presenting biblical ideas in extraordinarily clear language. This is a huge hallmark of this book.
One massive issue today in Christian circles is how frequently people find themselves disagreeing about what Scripture says or means or even how we should apply it to our lives. And as Sproul so incisively points out, “the Bible remains an enigma capable of vastly different interpretations.” “Is there any way to escape this confusion?” is one of the foundational questions he lays in writing this book. He also strives to provide guidance when approaching these conflicting viewpoints. These, however, are by no means the only issues this book deals with. For the book doesn’t mainly deal with key issues, but it is a launching-tool, if you will, for serious students of God’s word.
Sproul offers tremendous guidance on the science of interpretation, or what is often called, hermeneutics. A faithful, God-fearing approach to Scripture is an absolute requisite for anyone studying God’s word. He expounds on and also appeals many problems we face today, and offers solutions to them, like the ones I mentioned in the first paragraph. One of the most helpful tools, I found, was the analogy of faith. This is pretty much the corner stone of post-Reformation bible study. This rule is the vanguard of hermeneutics, or interpretation. The analogy of faith means, simply put, that Scripture is to interpret Scripture. “These means, quite simply, that no part of Scripture can be interpreted in such a way as to render it in conflict with what is clearly taught elsewhere in Scripture,” writes Sproul. This concept is rooted in the confidence of the inspiration of Scripture, it being the inerrant, infallible Word of God. Sproul has a cogent and faithful assertion about this: “Since it is assumed that God would never contradict himself, it is thought slanderous to the Holy Spirit to choose an alternate interpretation that unnecessarily brings the Bible in conflict with itself.” He goes into some detail in how to deal with passages that seem contradictory but are actually paradoxical.
Sproul offers more insight and guidance on private interpretation. He goes on to explain how to approach the Bible literally, that is, how it was written, i.e. as a poem, narrative, analogy, symbol, type, etc. He also shows the biblical critique of the Medieval Quadriga, but expounds on the singular meaning of a passage of scripture, but explains how it can have a sundry of applications. He dedicates an entire part of the book full of listed rules on how to read and interpret the Bible. Any good student of Scripture would find this tremendously helpful.
This small, 145 page book is a great book to pick up if you crave to learn more about Scripture, if you need guidance in how to interpret certain passage, or if you aren’t entirely sure how to sit down and study the Bible and have a fruitful devotional time. I highly recommend this book. I hope you will contemplate buying this book, because I have recognized the import of studying God’s word so that we might not only glorify God in it, or worship him, and become more satisfied in him. But that we might “honor Christ the Lord…being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for the reason for the hope that is in you [and to] do it with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).
Sproul does point out the church needs Pastors and teachers to expound Gods word for the church. They have been gifted and trained for this. Still this does not negate our responsibility to search the Scriptures ourselves as we seek to build a first hand relationship with Jesus Christ .
Sproul covers all the necessary areas including the motivation to study and the challenge to combat our own laziness for a fruit that lasts. He also covers the various types of writings in Scripture and the need to distinguish and interpret accordingly.
The book closes with a very helpful chapter explaining and recommending the various types of tools (both in print and digital) available for every skill and budget.
For those needing a positive motivation to study the Scriptures and the basic tools needed to get started, this book is a valuable resource