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on 23 June 2013
I will put my one complaint about this book at the beginning. The authors state that "...for study you should use almost any modern translation rather than the KJV or the NKJV." Other than that, this book is to be highly recommended. In less than 280 pages, you get a lot of genuinely useful guidance and information on how to read, understand and apply the different types of writings, or genres, in the Bible.

The first two chapters look at the necessity of interpretation and the various approaches to translation. Several modern translations are compared and their advantages / disadvantages discussed. These chapters open up the difficulties faced by translators. The authors end by suggesting the use of three or four translations for comparison during serious study.

The following chapters look at the different genres of the Bible: Epistles, narrative, Gospels (treated as a genre in their own right here), parables, wisdom texts, law, prophetic, psalms & poetry and apocalyptic. The nature and structures of each genre are described then the process of determining meaning and application is discussed, with examples. The explanations of Hebrew poetry and the parables are a great help in understanding why they look like they do in English translations. Common mistakes and difficulties of interpretation are covered.

Each genre is treated in a similar way. Always, the importance of the historical and literary contexts is emphasised. These can greatly affect how meaning is determined. The reader is encouraged to look at when and where a text was written, then to look at how that relates to their time and place. The reader is shown how to recognise the genre of the text, and how to handle it appropriately to find its application.

An appendix on the evaluation and use of commentaries ends the book, with suggestions given to build a reference library.

This is not a difficult book to read and work with. The "technical" language is well explained and the style is not at all academic - the book is meant to be used by anyone seeking to get more from their time with the Bible.
Although the most benefit would be gained by going through the book in sequence, it would be possible to use it for reference, going to the appropriate chapter for the text being read.
As it is not designed to be a textbook, there are no exercises or questions at the ends of the chapters!

Buy this book for a new Christian and get them off to a really good start. "Inoculate" them against the daft speculations and teachings out there!
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on 2 August 2010
If you want to understand the Bible within it's cultural context (exegesis) and how to apply it to your life (hermeneutics) - [yeah, glad I finally understand those 2 words :P] without going to bible school/college, this is the book for you. Easy to ride, and says a lot in a modest number of pages. It's a good guide that highlights key principles which based on the explanation, you for yourself can decide what you can take or leave. There were a few things I didn't fully agree with in the content, but for the most part, the rationale was acceptable. There were loads of references and suggested readings which I think may be helpful at some other time. But I think it's really good as a reference book all on it's own. And yes, if you do decide to go on to bible college, you can keep it handy as a student of English might keep a thesauraus.
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on 19 October 2010
It would have made the "God Delusion" a bit more of a credible book, as his exegesis was all over the place. An excellent introduction to reading the Bible for all readers of the Bible whether they are new to the good book or seasoned readers.
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on 4 March 2013
To get to grips with reading the Bible in the right way is essential, and with the help of this book reminds believers that in the inspired word of God there are different types (genres) throughout the Bible and we need to be aware of what we are reading. It is all God's word, but there are highlighted differences between reading a narrative, poetry, letters, books of the law and historical details.

The book reminds us that we are to look at the original meaning and to read the bible in it's context, remembering to be true to the text while still applying God's word to today. This is a needed reminder for every reader or preacher of the Bible, we don't come up with our opinion, but preach the word of God from the two horizons - original writers intention/readers original understanding and then application today.

An excellent book to gain understanding of the Bible, safeguarding the message of God from being abused or misused. It isn't a bedside read and leave plenty of thinking through time.
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on 20 March 2013
This book is a great introduction to how to read the Bible correctly. It explains the basic principles of exegesis and hermeneutics and illustrates their use very effectively.

All Christians should read this book as a minimum before voicing their interpretations of any Bible passage. The book basically conveys the very important message that whilst the Bible is the word of God, you can't just pick it up and read its contents at face value, even in places where the language seems to make perfect sense. You need to understand the context in which it was written (i.e. the author, the intended audience, the geopolitical setting, the surrounding cultural influences), and the highly challenging and often subjective task of translating it into modern English. Only then are you remotely "qualified" to discuss the meaning and application of the passage.

There is no getting around the fact that it takes time to master reading and interpreting the Bible, but whilst this is clearly a big challenge to all Christians, we should be grateful for all the hard work by scholars that have produced tools like this book, which enable the layman to genuinely stand a chance at grasping and hence being enlightened by God's word.
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on 15 September 2013
Fee and Stuart spell things out clearly, illustrate by using different books and passages from the Bible, and have a lack of dogmatism.
It is a very easy book to read: big words explained; big ideas made plain; and scholarship AND application kept hand in hand.
I have, over the past 30 years: bought it, read it, given it away, bought other copies, given them away, and that was why I had to buy yet another copy!
This updated edition just adds value to the earlier ones.
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on 4 September 2015
An excellent book. The authors are seminary professors of Old and New Testament studies. They write in a scholarly but understandable way about how to read and interpret the Bible. They discuss some of the problems in understanding it e.g. what they call the problem of historical distance (some of the Bible accounts rely on assumptions about culture that were obvious at the time which no longer apply, so the writers didn't feel the need to explain stuff that we reading today will not assume or even recognise). They also talk about the risks attached to the fact that few of us can read the original Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic and therefore how much we rely on the translators' opinions when we read it. They show the folly of simplistic televangelists who quote single verses out of context to support their selective beliefs. They also give good advice (as the title suggests) for how to read it in a more sensible way, and give good examples of where the Bible does not give easy and conclusive answers, whatever the televangelists may tell you. An excellent and very useful book with great advice for how to study the book intelligently.
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on 14 October 2013
Before opening this book I thought I knew something about the Bible. I'm still part way through reading it and have already had a complete turnaround in some of the things I thought about the Bible. Excellent for putting the Bible books in context and showing how we should approach the different genres to make them relevant for today.
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on 2 December 2013
This is required reading for the Spurgeons College Equipped to Minister Course and as such I have to use it to reference various fact in several essays. Saying that I cannot help reading around the subject and it is quite good.
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on 14 April 2015
This book isn't just for people looking to read The Bible for all its worth but it teaches you how to expand your vision in all the historical reading you'll ever do! Even from the begining you'll start to understand how to read the book itself better, you'll start to question what is written, why it was written, who opinions are taken and why. Where the facts have come from, how reliable is the source and what are the most popular opinions.
Even if you just want to expand your enjoyment of reading this book is worth a look.
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