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Reading the Bible with Heart and Mind Paperback – July 1, 1997
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If you are ready to find out what living by the Bible is all about, this is the book you've been looking for. Reading the Bible with Heart and Mind can revolutionize how we think about the Bible and use it day by day. These are concepts I want our church to learn; they are concepts I use to train my students; they are concepts I teach my kids. -- John H. Walton, Ph.D., professor of Old Testament, Moody Bible Institute; and coauthor of Survey of the Old Testament
Longman drives home the truths that the Bible transforms our lives and leads us to Christ. His words will inflame your heart and guide you to read the Bible for all it's worth. -- Bruce K. Waltke, Marshall Sheppard Professor of Old Testament Studies, Regent College
Sections of Scripture I have read countless times came alive with a new passion and a compelling call as I read this book. If you want to be changed by the Word of God, walk through the familiar with a new perspective offered by a humble, brilliant guide. It will be the journey of a lifetime. -- Dan B. Allender, Ph.D., director of Wounded Heart Ministries
Tremper Longman has learned to love the Bible with all his heart and mind, and even more to love its Author. This delightful and compelling work will help others to fall in love with God too. -- Dr. James Montgomery Boice, senior minister, Tenth Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia; and president, Alliance of Confession Evangelicals
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While there is no magic solution to these issues Christians struggle with, there are some excellent resources available to help those who understand that the Word of God is the only source of spiritual food for the believer. One resource that I would highly recommend is Reading the Bible With Heart & Mind by Tremper Longman III. This is an excellent tool to help anyone learn more about the Word of God and how to both understand it and apply it to their lives.
Longman starts his first section by discussing "The Bible's Transforming Power". He reminds the reader that Scripture is the primary way that God changes our hearts and minds, and it is the primary way that God shows us what in our lives needs to be changed. "God speaks to us through the Bible. He encounters us in its pages. It is true that He speaks to us in other ways as well but never so clearly and directly as in Scripture." (pp. 39).
Once he establishes how the Bible works in us, his next section, "The Receptive Heart", describes how we should approach the Bible when we turn to it. He describes some wrong approaches or "lenses" that some of us bring to Scripture - "A treasure chest of golden truths", "A grab bag of promises and comforts", "A compilation of riddles and secrets", or "A talisman with magical power". He then describes some of the correct ways to approach God's Word - as the very Word of God, as a guide for living, and with great humility.
The third section, "The Understanding Mind", focuses on how we, as people who are trying to read the Bible, can both build our trust in what it says, and our understanding of what it says! He explains and describes seven principles that will help a reader better understand any Biblical passage's meaning accurately. He finishes this section with a reminder that, "the most important thing to remember as you approach the Bible s to come to it with an openness to hear God speaking directly to your heart. He cares about you and your deepest concerns. Don't allow principles or guidelines to take away the power of your encounter with Him. But do use them as a guide for accurate interpretation."(pp. 94).
His fourth and largest section, "The Literary Cornucopia," which explains how to specifically read and understand the different genres of Scripture - history, law, poetry, wisdom, prophets, gospels, epistles and apocalyptic. By reading these chapters, parts of the Bible that may have seemed impossible to understand before, can now be read with new confidence and clarity. This section alone is worth the price of the book!
Longman concludes with a wonderful exhortation: "The Word of God is rich, complex, challenging and compelling. As long as we live, we will struggle to understand it. But as long as we struggle with it, we will grow....To read the Bible with heart and mind consistently is to enter into a lifelong conversation with god. And this conversation has only one possible result: continued growth and transformation into the image of Jesus Christ." (pp. 228).
If your desire is to "let the word of Christ dwell in you richly..." (Col. 3:16a), then this book is a great tool to help you begin that process in your life!
Longman divided the book into four parts--the Bible's transforming power, the receptive heart, the understanding mind, and the literary cornucopia. One of the best things about this book is that Longman addresses the whole perhaps, just as the Bible does. He reminds the reader that Scripture is not to be read just in the abstract, but in the real ruddiness of life.
Chapter 7 is an important chapter. Longman presented the reader with several application principles:
Look for the author's intended meaning.
Read the passage in context.
Identify the genre of the passage.
Consider the historical and cultural background of the Bible.
Pay attention to the grammar and structure within the passage.
Interpret experience in the light of Scripture, not vice versa.
Always seek the full counsel of Scripture.
The final section, comprising the majority of the book, explores the major genres of the Bible: History, Law, Poetry, Wisdom, The Prophets, The Gospels, The Epistles, and Apocalypse. Understanding the difference between each of these literary types will go a long way to making sense of what the Bible means.
Having read each of the books above, I think this is the one I am most likely to recommend now. It is accessible and wise.