The title is a mouth full, but the book is well worth chewing. If you ever wonder how to interpret the Bible, this might be a good study for you. Is the Bible to be taken literally? Did Moses really exist as a person? Is the Bible just a set of untrue stories written to teach moral principles, or did all these things really happen?
Hermeneutics is the study of the methods and principles used to interpret something (in this case, the Bible, although the same techniques could be employed in a study of the U.S. Constitution for those of us who are interested in constitutional law). In short, how do you read the Bible so you can understand what the authors were trying to teach…and who were the authors, anyway? I believe the best hermeneutics require understanding the “author’s intent.” In the case of the Bible, the author is God (who inspired human authors), and our understanding of authorial intention and logic should be derived from studying the normal use of language, facts of history, context, grammar, and ultimately the individual words, guided by the Holy Spirit, who also superintended the original writings.
The book defends the evangelical position, positing that the prophetic hermeneutic of the Old Testament flows seamlessly into the apostolic hermeneutic of the New Testament, and that the intention of the writings are to provide a redemptive history for all people, so that all of us will be redeemed and love God, worshiping Him because of his mercy and good works. A truly biblical hermeneutic will spur us to grow in our faith and trust, respond to life with appropriate moral choices, and develop a worldview based on God’s redemptive works throughout the universe.
There is a wealth of information concerning particular issues in biblical interpretation, but the author also points out that ultimately his book is meant to give evangelicals confidence in embracing a literal, historical interpretation of Scripture. The biblical authors read and responded to Scripture the way they demand us to read it: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth“ (2 Timothy 2:15). The biblical authors were consistent, and there was no hermeneutic shifting in the Scripture.
I love Abner Chou’s conclusion: “The Bible comes with ‘hermeneutic included.’ We may not always get everything right but that does not mean a standard does not exist. Rather, the biblical writers have set that standard. For a Christian, our hermeneutic then must be one of surrender and obedience, one that bows before how the Author has demanded his children read and seek what he has confluently intended through the human author.” Amen!
“Continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:14-17).