This is a book on interpreting the Bible and applying it to your life. My seven-member Bible study group (from an Evangelical Free church) did a 13-week study/discussion of this book. Thirteen weeks may sound like a long time, but it worked well for us for two reasons: First, the book is not light reading. You need time to read, struggle, re-read, and come to grips with each chapter. Second, the authors often ask the reader to read large portions of scripture as part of studying a particular chapter in their book. In their chapter on the epistles, for example, the authors ask the reader to read through all of I Corinthians in one sitting, then study it *again* using techniques that they teach in the book.
We believe that this book is not a "basic primer"--it is not a book for beginning students of the Bible. For new Christians, let me suggest a book recommended by the authors themselves: "Knowing Scripture," by R. C. Sproul.
OUR FAVORITE THINGS ABOUT THE BOOK: 1) The book is written by two seminary professors who tell us, in the book's preface, that they are "believers, who think we should obey the biblical texts, not merely read or study them." 2) The emphasis of the book is on helping readers struggle with the questions of applying the Bible to their own lives. 3) The book eases the reader into the subject matter by giving some general principles of interpretation and by discussing the relative strengths of different Bible translations. 4) The book then divides the Bible into different types of literature (e.g., parables, law, epistles, prophets, and so forth); this approach helps to clarify the "rules of the road" in interpretation. As one example, the authors lay down some rules for understanding proverbial wisdom, and from these rules, we understand that Proverbs are not legal guarantees from God.
OUR NOT-SO-FAVORITE THINGS ABOUT THE BOOK: 1) Even in the most recently printed version, there are some curious typographical errors. 2) A couple of members of our Bible study felt the book was "difficult reading" in some places. 3) If you want exposure to *several* viewpoints about how Old Testament Law does or does not apply (or applies in part) to New Testament Christians, you'll need to look elsewhere.
FINAL THOUGHT: If you are looking for more than a basic primer on reading and applying the Bible to your life, we commend this book to you. This book changed the way we study scripture--for the better. All members of my Bible study group rated the book at 4.5 stars or higher.