Top positive review
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Buy a copy for a new Christian!
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!