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Does the Bible contain error?
Were the ancient manuscripts of the Bible transmitted accurately?
What is the best English Bible translation?
Is the Bible really all about Jesus?
Do all the commands of the Bible apply today?
Why can't people agree on what the Bible means?
How do we interpret historical narrative?
How do we interpret the Psalms?
What does the Bible tell us about the future?
What is the "Theological Interpretation of Scripture"?
and many others
This book is intended to help you understand the Bible. As a New Testament professor, I regularly teach an introductory course on biblical hermeneutics (interpretation) at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. I have had difficulty finding a textbook that covers briefly and accurately all the issues that we survey in that course. (Topics covered in my course include: canon, manuscript transmission, English Bible translations, general interpretive questions, approaches to the major literary types in the Bible, and current hermeneutical debates.) I wrote this book in order to address these issues in one volume. Ideally, this book will serve as a textbook for an introductory Bible course at a college or seminary, but I endeavored to write so that the book will be beneficial to any curious Christian. My goal was to be accessible without being simplictic and scholarly without being pedantic, while always keeping an eye to practical questions and real-life application by the Christian reader.
--from the Introduction
Foreword Andreas J. Köstenberger 9
Part 1 Getting Started: Text, Canon, and Translation
1 What Is the Bible? 17
2 How Is the Bible Organized? 23
3 Who Wrote the Bible-Humans or God? 31
4 Does the Bible Contain Error? 37
5 Were the Ancient Manuscripts of the Bible Transmitted Accurately? 47
6 Who Determined What Books Would Be Included in the Bible? 57
7 Which Is the Best English Bible Translation? 69
Part 2 Approaching the Bible Generally
Section A Questions Related to Interpretation
8 Why Is Biblical Interpretation Important? 79
9 How Has the Bible Been Interpreted Throughout Church History? 85
10 What Are Some General Principles for Interpreting the Bible? (1) 95
11 What Are Some General Principles for Interpreting the Bible? (2) 101
12 How Can I Improve as an Interpreter of the Bible? 109
13 What Are Some Helpful Books or Tools for Interpreting the Bible? 117
Section B Questions Related to Meaning
14 Who Determines the Meaning of a Text? 127
15 Can a Text Have More Than One Meaning? 135
16 What Is the Role of the Holy Spirit in Determining Meaning? 143
17 What Is the Overarching Message of the Bible? 151
18 Is the Bible Really All About Jesus? 161
19 Do All the Commands of the Bible Apply Today? 167
20 Why Can't People Agree on What the Bible Means? 175
Part 3 Approaching Specific Texts
Section A Shared Genres (Questions Apply Equally to Old and New Testaments)
21 How Do We Identify Literary Genre-and Why Does It Matter? 185
22 How Do We Interpret Historical Narratives? 191
23 How Do We Interpret Prophecy? (General Guidelines) 197
24 How Do We Interpret Prophecy? (Typology) 205
25 How Do We Interpret Apocalyptic Literature? 213
26 How Do We Interpret Exaggerated or Hyperbolic Language? 219
27 How Do We Interpret Figures of Speech? 227
Section B Primarily Old Testament Genres
28 How Do We Interpret Proverbs? 235
29 How Do We Interpret Poetry? 243
30 How Do We Interpret the Psalms? (Classification of Psalms) 249
31 How Do We Interpret the Psalms? (Principles of Interpretation) 255
Section C Primarily New Testament Genres
32 How Do We Interpret Parables? (History of Interpretation) 265
33 How Do We Interpret Parables? (Principles of Interpretation) 271
34 How Do We Interpret Letters or Epistles? (Structure and Nature) 279
35 How Do We Interpret Letters or Epistles? (General Guidelines) 285
Part 4 Issues in Recent Discussion
36 What Does the Bible Tell Us About the Future? 293
37 What Is Biblical Criticism? 299
38 What Is "Speech Act Theory"? 305
39 What Is the "Theological Interpretation of Scripture"? 313
40 What Are Some Other Recent Trends in Biblical Interpretation? 321
Select Bibliography 329
List of Figures 331
Scripture Index 333
Ancient Sources Index 347