Two veteran scholars, Walter Kaiser, Jr. and Moises Silva, team to provide us this introduction to the study of biblical hermeneutics. This is a revised and expanded second edition. It comes in a nice, attractive hardback edition as well. These authors don’t always agree with each other, but they are both committed to the authority of Scripture and are worth listening to. While this book is meant to be a first introduction to biblical hermeneutics, I think it better serves as a second text because of its length and style. That’s not a knock on this volume, but a complement on how well it teaches us to logically think through some of these issues. For example, it would make a great second text to go along with Introduction to Biblical Interpretation by Keil, Blomberg, Hubbard by the same publisher.
Its subtitle of “the search for meaning” describes well the approach taken here. As with most such volumes, the authors have their own approach and order of the things that must be studied in grasping the meaning of any biblical text. Part 1 looks at what the authors call “initial directions”. There they talk about why we need hermeneutics, what we mean by meaning, how language is used, how biblical theology fits in, the New Testament use of the Old Testament, and the role of history. In that section I thought the chapter “let’s be logical: using and abusing language” was one of the best.
In part 2, the authors seek to understand the text and try to help us make sense of literary genres. In that section, the unique features of the genres like poetry, the Gospels, the epistles, and prophecy are taken in turn. In part 3, they moved to meaning and application consider the devotional use of the Bible, our need to obey the word in cultural context, and how to move on to the theological use of the Bible. Part 4 is the collection of loose ends covering things like a history of interpretation and contemporary approaches to biblical interpretation. The final chapter on concluding observations attempts to tie it all together. There’s a fine glossary, an annotated bibliography, and indices at the end.
This is an outstanding volume to have on your shelves to complement your understanding of biblical hermeneutics. I highly recommend it.
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