Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary
How to Read the Bible for All
A Book Review
Dr. Steve Waechter
October 6, 2010
In their work How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth, Gordon Fee and Douglas Stewart provide a hermeneutical roadmap for the laymen and a valuable interpretive tool for the serious bible student. The authors believe a breakdown of the Holy Scripture by genre and the use of modern translation is the key to a more profitable study of the word of God. By using a set of guiding principles Fee and Stuart engage the reader by putting them in the position of both interpreter and expositor, encouraging the reader to employ the principles of both Hebrew and Greek word studies for proper elucidation.
The writers do take in to consideration the difficulties involved in extracting truth from the bible. They acknowledge “…when a person form our culture hears the word cross, centuries of Christian art and symbolism cause most people to think of a Roma cross”(18). This is repeated throughout the text underscoring the need to recognize the gap that will always exist from the modern and ancient cultures in literary expression. The book acknowledges that “the Bible is God’s Word and has eternal relevance; it speaks to all human kind in every culture”(21). It is however important to note, that although these and other consideration re are mad this book is still primarily an English interpretation of the scripture.
Fee and Stuart emphasize the belief in the superiority of certain biblical translations for study. They believe the more modern translation such as the NIV give the reader a decisive advantage in studying the text of Bible from translation such as the KJV. The use of one primary text is encouraged, to bring a level of continuity to biblical study. The use of what they consider superior manuscripts in the NIV is discussed but they are clear to note that other translations are not bad. This must be looked upon in light of the limitation of the English language as well. Far less descriptive than Hebrew, Aramaic or Greek, the issue is further compounded by culture.
The issue of culture is discussed in the book however this writer feel more emphasis should have been placed on eastern vs. western that ancient vs. modern. The lens that we view what we read is for more powerful from a cultural than time. Example would be Jesus use of the word “woman” (John 2:4 KJV) when speaking to his mother at the wedding in Cana, or the phrase if a man slaps your right cheek (Mat 5:39 NIV). Both f these among others are cultural references that deal specifically with east and west. The biblical translation would also play a major role in how these verses are applied. It is obvious Jesus would not disrespect his mother but spoke as a term of endearment, and he also would not expect a man to allow his self to be brutalized unnecessarily. It cannot be assumed that bible student would immediately know that further investigation of these colloquialisms would be required for proper exposition. Overall fee and Stuart do encourage the student to look beyond the surface and that in itself is a testament that this apparent oversight was unintentional. The book approaches the extraction of truth from the Bible by breaking the books into genres. By doing this Fee and Stuart call for important details to be categorized for closer examination in the context they were intended to be viewed. Beginning with the New Testament Epistles they follow with Old Testament Narratives, The Book of Acts and a further breakdown of the Gospels and other Old Testament categories. They call upon the bible student to investigate the purpose, audience, and context of the each biblical category. This allows the student to compartmentalize each section while still maintaining biblical continuity. This approach also allows the...
Bibliography: Fee, Gordon D., and Douglas Stuart. How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth. 3 Revised ed
Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2003.
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