Reading the Bible for All Its Worth – Part 1/2

With the previous review of Ryken’s text in mind, it seemed appropriate to dust off an old copy of Fee and Stuart’s book for another look and a review…

How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth, 2nd Edition
Gordon D. Fee & Douglas Stuart,
Grand Rapids, Michigan,
Zondervan, 265p,
ISBN 0-310-38491-5

Summary

How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth is a brief, but reasonably complete lay introduction to hermeneutics. Their goal is to facilitate both bible reading and bible study, with an emphasis on bridging the gap between the meaning of the text for the original recipient and the meaning for the present reader. The initial chapters explain the need for a systematic approach to bible study, as opposed to simple reading. A clear distinction is drawn between exegesis and hermeneutics as distinct, ordered activities. The selection of an appropriate study translation is also explored.

Commentary

The body of the book defines and discusses the Biblical genres in a tradition format, addressing the Epistles, Old Testament Narratives, Acts, the Gospels, the Parables, the Laws, the Prophets, Psalms, Wisdom books and the Revelation. An appendix addresses the selection of quality commentaries. Each genre taught by means of both explanation accompanied by appropriate sample Scriptures. In most cases, the discussion of each genre instructs the reader to work actively through the example Scripture. This yields a continuous set of inline exercises, which maintain reader engagement and avoid the problems of passive description. This is an effective pedagogy.

Lastly, but very significantly, many chapters have summary lists of the analytical guidelines for that genre. This strongly supports subsequent use and it a feature that was noted in my previous review of the Ryken text as a significant omission.

Throughout the portion addressing each genre, the text consistently stresses two activities – repeated reading of the Biblical text under analysis, and the importance of context. This repetition is very successful, and is reminiscent of the same recommendation by A.I. Pink in his book “Knowing God”.

The need for reasoned, common sense bible study, the division between exegesis and hermeneutics, and the differentiation between original and present meaning are all very effective presented. The tradition division into genres and the use of extensive reader participation in processes is well executed and effective. Assuming that the reader participates in the process as requested in the text, a good foundation will be laid for genre based analysis.

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