People may believe that they do not need any hermeneutical training, but a general reading of the book How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth by Fee and Stuart is essential for Christians who have any inclination towards scripture. The guidelines and rules outlined in the book are very good and some of them are very well developed from the point of view of interpreting and understanding scripture. For the Bible student and the inquiry seekers, the book is an excellent tool for teaching.
Douglas Stuart and Gordon Fee have displayed their competencies in making the interpretation of the principles of the Bible available to present day readers. While Gordon Fee is an Old Testament scholar, Douglas Stuart is a student of the New Testament and they have covered in the book matters relating to translations, the legendry genres of poetry, parable, narratives and epistles and the meanings conveyed in the writings that were presented to their original audiences.
The authors have shown how the right interpretations require different ways of exegesis as per the literary texts being studied in terms of Wisdom, Apocalypse, law and Wisdom. When considering New Testament Epistles, it is realized upon reading the book that the authors have given excellent advices in saying that the book should be treated as letters. This implies that individuals must read the book several times just as they would read letters from their close ones and then try to understand the meaning conveyed in them.
It is very important to understand that the text aims at revealing the concept that the book was written to address a specific audience in order to make them understand the intricacies of Christianity. It is not possible for a reader to be extra subjective in trying to apply the different passages from the scripture to his or her own life particularly when a specific passage does not connote the meaning as believed by the reader. The book has lot of positive components and attributes that make it an excellent piece of reading.
It effectively describes the complication and difficulty faced in translation and provides general principles and rules of effective interpretation. It endorses the consideration of the cultural and historical perspective and observes the writing styles and genres used in the books, and also suggests being cautious against any kind of misinterpretations. The authors have presented an easy to understand style which brings forth the art of biblical interpretations within the reach of the normal human being in a way that make the study of the Bible very rewarding and interesting.
The book provides recommendation for the use of bible translations, concordances and dictionaries as facilitation to the studies. The back cover has clearly explained about the book, “In clear, simple language, it helps you accurately understand the different parts of the Bible—their meaning for ancient audiences and their implications for you today—so you can uncover the inexhaustible worth that is in God’s Word. ” The authors have exhibited certain negative attributes especially in regard to some specific viewpoints which every reader may not agree with.
For example, the material available in Acts and the Epistles was more relevant during the days when the texts were written and is considered a much lesser positive aspect in the viewpoint of King James and New King James Bible. The present day international version of the Bible is known to be much influenced by feminism while the translation versions of the Bible, especially the English Standard Version, are not much influenced by feminism. This is considered as being more sought after as the Dynamic Equivalence way of translation.
Some scholars have come to believe that all hermeneutic theories have not been adequately dealt with by the authors. Since one of the authors is said to be an associate of the Assemblies of God Church, he has made some critics to point that the hermeneutics have been presented in his style. There have been several allegations of the flow of content being difficult while the style of writing has not been up to the mark. How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth guides the reader in a way that he or she can handle the Scripture in a better way, and teaches how misinterpretations can be avoided by using the context properly.
The entire book emphasizes the importance of holistic reading of passages as per the over all substance of Scripture. Quirky doctrines and bad exegesis are the result of instances when passage and biblical statements are taken out from the theological, historical or cultural contexts and focused on aspects that are away from the whole of the revelation. In this context the introduction in the books has aptly explained that, “The aim of good interpretation is not uniqueness; one is not trying to discover what no one else has ever seen before.
Interpretation that aims at, or thrives on, uniqueness can usually be attributed to pride (an attempt to ‘out clever’ the rest of the world), a false understanding of spirituality (wherein the Bible is full of deeply buried truths waiting to be mined by the spiritually sensitive person with special insight), or vested interests (the need to support a theological bias, especially dealing with texts that seem to go against that bias). ” It is realized that the authors have made powerful points when one tries to understand the historic tests of the Old and New Testaments.
They firstly make a case in favour of reading these books in order to see the activities of God in the matters pertaining to His Church and Israel. Hence these books are better understood if they are divided into separate sections that should be read as a successive account of deliverance history. Additionally the authors have warned that the passages should not be decontextualized and allegorized since such actions become tempting while reading historical narratives which do not appear to have much spiritual and theological importance.
Significant points have been made by the authors in enhancing the awareness of the gospels. It is initially affirmed that some knowledge of the historical texts is important and crucial and that one is at a disadvantage if he or she is not conversant with Mediterranean culture of the 1st century. Secondly, it helps to read accounts of similar gospels and understand the minor differences which can enhance the understanding in regard to the audiences that the gospels intend to address and the kind of message that the authors are aiming to convey in those instances.
It is established in the entire book that, as a rule, one must think and read in paragraph form to make the best and most meaningful use of the books. The treatment of the legal books of Hebrews is very impressive. The authors make a strong point that the given laws were specified for Israel in order to make them get benefits by understanding and applying them to the Israeli people. This point is considered valid by the authors but they also point out that there needs to be a precise way of teaching that the law did not emphasize upon.
Moreover, the New Testament is no longer binding on the people today and is not considered by the authors as a strong argument. The laws that condemned rape, incest, homosexuality and bestiality were not specifically stated by Jesus, but they are believed to be true and applicable today also. The book is concluded in dealing with revelation, wisdom literature and psalms. However there is nothing new or revolutionary in these narrations which include strong and sound advice in regard to some negligible points of contention.
Although the book cannot be considered exhaustive as a guide it is undoubtedly the best in enabling the understanding and reading of the Scripture. In essence, the book has aptly demonstrated how the Bible should be read theologically through the eyes of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ instead of the overtly idealistic and literalistic methods. Bible reading is revealed as being not only informative but also resulting in the positive transformation of human beings. Bibliography Fee Gordon D and Stuart Douglas, How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth, 2003, Zondervan