The Hermeneutical Spiral by Grant Osborne

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This massive book lives up to its subtitle of “a comprehensive introduction to Biblical interpretation”. It’s the fullest volume I have seen on the subject and it brings the word encyclopedic to mind. There’s no way that you could find any subject in the field of hermeneutics not mentioned in this book. Its greatest strength may also be its greatest weakness as it may be simply to prolix for some people. Still, Grant Osborne has had as much direction in the scholarly world for hermeneutics study as anyone in the last 30 years. Additionally, this busy scholar has written a few important commentaries along the way.

His conception of hermeneutics as a spiral form from text to context has become the preeminent academic theory of biblical interpretation today. In this book, he breaks down the hermeneutical spiral in great detail. In his lengthy introduction, he explains the issues of interpretation, the difficulty of acquiring meaning, how to view the Scriptures, the place of the reader in interpretation, and how the goal of hermeneutics is expository preaching.

Part 1 is on general hermeneutics and covers five chapters. He takes in turn context, grammar, semantics, syntax, and historical and cultural backgrounds. In each case, he describes the range of things that has been believed in the subjects and strongly argues for his own perspective. Again, the detail is incredible and covers main issues as well as esoteric ones.

Part 2 covers genre analysis, or what we might call special cases in hermeneutics, in nine chapters. In my opinion, he shined even more in this part. The special sections of the Bible can be difficult in biblical interpretation and he gives much food for thought in every category. Even where I could not agree with him, I found him both exhaustive and interesting.

Part 3 is special. He calls it applied hermeneutics and he covers biblical theology, systematic theology, homiletics– contextualization, and homiletics– the sermon. This section continues past where most hermeneutics books end. In making the natural progression to homiletics, he provides almost a second book on that needed subject for preachers all within the same covers of this book. There’s two appendices at the end on some fairly-narrow scholarly issues too.

There’s no doubt that this is a five-star book. The only question is if it’s too much for some readers. For those who want THE book on hermeneutics, this is it.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Introduction to Biblical Hermeneutics (Revised Edition)

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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.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Revival Sermons of Jonathan Edwards–A Review

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Jonathan Edwards was an amazing man. Besides being impressive for his theological writings, he was one of the preachers God used mightily in the Great Awakening. Having read the book Jonathan Edwards on Revival in the past and being amazed by it, I was pleased to see this book that collects some of his most effective revival sermons of that time. In case you’re wondering, this book does include the famous “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”.

For those who are not that knowledgeable of Jonathan Edwards, this book provides a preface that gives a biographic overview of him. After that preface, you have seven of these great sermons. There are several things you will notice about the sermons. First, they’re long. Where it seems only fluffy sermons appeal to the masses in our generation, the Lord used deep, profound, scripturally-laden sermons in that day (I imagine that would still work!). Second, his style usually involves beginning with some doctrine on the subject and then branching out into pointed, applicable material to take the Scripture home to the hearer’s hearts. Finally, these sermons will not allow the listener to escape the searching light of God’s holy Word.

While the sermons have great historical value, they serve far better as a conduit to examine our own hearts. They serve also as a call for our sermons of today to get back to the Bible since it is the Bible that the Holy Spirit uses to pierce the heart of men and women.

This book is an attractive paperback edition that will serve as a nice addition to your library. I recommend it.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

A Minister’s Obstacles–An Awesome Reprint

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I’m excited to see this superb book reprinted. I found an old copy of this book early in my ministry and it made quite an impact on me. It’s crazy that it went out of print. It’s truly one of the great titles on the ministry that has been written. In fact, when I started a series a few years ago on the best books for ministry, I recommended this book. (Read me earlier review here).

The story behind this reprint is touching. Marty Moon fell in love with this book and was saddened to realize that preachers today did not have it available to glean from. He also wanted to give a gift to his pastor, Bill Lytell of Gospel Baptist Church, on the occasion of his 25th anniversary as pastor. On March 5, 2017 Pastor Lytell was presented with a copy of this book reprinted in his honor. Clearly, Mr. Moon saw in Pastor Lytell the great traits exemplified in this book.

Your pastor would likely be blessed by a copy too.

Click here to find on Amazon.

Old Testament Exegesis by Douglas Stuart (4th edition)

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Subtitled “a handbook for students and pastors”, this volume has been a standard in the field for many years. Now in its fourth edition, it is poised to continue its usefulness for many more years. Mr. Stuart is a highly-respected Bible scholar, who has written several outstanding commentaries. I’ve enjoyed using several of them myself. In this volume, he goes through his process of performing exegesis on Old Testament passages. This book is especially valuable for those new to exegesis.

The structure of the book, with every section and subsection numbered, makes using it as a reference at any point of the exegetical process very efficient. After you work through the volume initially, you will find it easy to go back and check certain elements where you may be confused. There’s even a handy analytical table of contents at the beginning to help you zip to the needed location. While you might not have his exact method, you must think of everything he addresses at some point in the exegetical process. I don’t personally do everything in the exact order he says, but I found him to be engaging and suggestive. It even struck me as I read that there were some elements of the exegetical process that I could improve.

Chapters 1 and 2 are aimed more at students doing exegetical papers in seminary. Not only does he explain the process well, but he also illustrates his point with scriptural passages on several occasions. Chapter 3 shortens the process for pastors creating sermons. He takes the process even through application and sermon. Chapter 4 is a fine bibliographic chapter suggesting books for each phase. The suggestions are quite extensive.

The only downsides I could see in the book is that it reduced the process to such a science that the art was lost. Further, some of the language work he suggested is realistically not going to be done by pastors. Finally, if the student or pastor is just beginning, it would take years to build the library he recommends. In his defense, I’m sure he was suggesting buying one good book in each category.

You might want to check out a similar volume on the New Testament from the same publisher. Don’t miss the list of common Old Testament exegesis terms and the list of frequent hermeneutical errors in the back of the book. As a guide or refresher, I recommend this book.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

The Lost Sermons of Spurgeon: A Publishing Event!

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This book is a call for celebration for any Spurgeon lovers or any who appreciate great preaching in general. If you are like me, you already read often from the pool of sermons available in either the New Park Street Pulpit or the Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit sermon sets. Perhaps you would agree with me as well in saying that Spurgeon is one of the greatest preachers who ever lived. This gorgeous volume is the first in what will be an indispensable set.

Spurgeon himself meant to publish these sermons from his earliest ministry, but it never worked out. His notes have languished in storage for these many years. Now Christian T. George has rescued the sermons and B & H Publishing has blessed us all by committing to print them in quality, beautiful editions. What will be obvious the minute you pick up these volumes is that both Mr. George and the publishers have treated the sermons as a labor of love.

Once you open this beautiful volume you will find a treasure trove. You will read a history of how the project came together, an interesting timeline that puts Spurgeon in historical context, and introduction, two interesting essays on Spurgeon, and an essay about the sermons themselves. Mr. George then describes his sources and methods and even gives a sermon analysis that reviews the number of words in his sermon notes and other interesting facts. I must confess that I found every page of the introductory material to be interesting reading. Don’t miss the incredible amount of information in the footnotes as well.

Then there’s the sermons. Many of them are only an outline, but Mr. George has put such incredible research of interesting tidbits both historical and personal that are loads of fun for Spurgeon fans. Who would’ve thought that Spurgeon’s first outline mostly came from John Gill! As I read the sermon outlines, I could tell that these were, perhaps, before Spurgeon completely hit his stride, but they still showed the homiletic genius that he was. It also demonstrated how Spurgeon can teach us all to find great sermons in unlikely texts.

I look forward to getting each volume as they come out and can’t wait to have the set completed. If you are a book lover, this is the release of the year. I pray this series has great success and mark me down as its first admirer.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Preaching Old Testament Narratives by Benjamin Walton

 

 

Benjamin Walton has been teaching preaching for some time as well as having pastored himself in the past. He begins his book explaining the need of accuracy in preaching. He argues that most do not do so, even some who imagine they do.

He next distinguishes OT narrative from other biblical genres. I personally believe he misses on the interpretation of 1 Corinthians 10:1-22 and too narrowly limits OT narratives because of it.

He uses his own jargon. CUT (complete unit of thought) and THT (Take-Home Truth) are his two main emphases. He deals with what most every such volume would, even if he uses his own words.

On the plus side, the book really gives the nuts and bolts. It ever reminds us that our listeners deserve the word of God, not the word of man. It explains thoroughly everything it suggests.

On the negative side, he sometimes makes it sound like that anyone who doesn’t follow him down the line completely is off the mark. Again, his method can be too rigid at times.

This book will be the greatest asset to those with less experience in faithfully giving out the text. It could, though, be a help to anyone.
 

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

 

 

Bishop J. C. Ryle’s Autobiography

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J.C. Ryle’s Autobiography has been rescued from oblivion by Banner of Truth in this gorgeous volume edited by Andrew Atherstone. The editing, copious footnotes, and information relentlessly dug out for this edition suggest to me that it was a labor of love for Mr. Atherstone.  In fact, Banner of Truth has taken on the role of preserving Ryle’s fine writings for our generation. In addition to his set on the Gospels, BOT has at least 8 other titles of his in print currently.

Iain Murray already provided us with an outstanding biography earlier this year and mentioned he had access to the autobiography as he wrote. I assumed this would be a nice extra volume, almost a collectible, since we already had that other volume, but I was pleasantly surprised.

Ryle wrote in an ideal style for autobiography and gave us tremendous insight into himself. When he would reflect, he would see that in certain points of his life he took a course that was not the best. He even criticized himself for a disposition that might have turned off some that he pastored. You might say he was “raw” before being raw was the rage.

Though the autobiography was written in mid-life, it is still outstanding. Atherstone added 7 appendices that shared things like the family Bible, some of his earliest tracts, and even his last will and testament. In the book you will get good biography and information of historical importance that brings Ryle to life.

If I had to choose, I’d probably pick the Murray biography of Ryle. Since we are not forced to make that hard choice, grab them both. This book, as said before, is stunning and of quality binding, and it is an easy, thoughtful, and enjoyable read. I highly recommend it!

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Ministry Mantras by Briggs and Hyatt

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J.R. Briggs and Bob Hyatt present a discussion and encouragement for ministry that uses key statements as the angle to get us to have clear focus on ministry. While it might strike you as only slogans that appeal to our distracted generation, or even clichés that sound cute, the book does manage to push us in ministry.

Some of the mantras were just a reminder of what we should know, but others were quite profound. The one “Leadership is purposefully choosing whom you will disappoint”, especially when it was demonstrated that Jesus practised this in His ministry, is an example.

The mantras are categorized as either leadership, vision, motivation,ministry, pastoral care, leadership development, opportunities, success, spirituality, expectations, community, formation, conflict, outreach, and stewardship, though there is clearly overlap. Some you have heard, but many you have not.

Only occasionally did they give the impression that if your ministry doesn’t look like theirs it’s substandard. Overall, I enjoyed reading this volume. To my mind, you could either read this straight through as a regular book like I did, or you might read one mantra a day to spread out the challenge. Either way, it is a solid effort.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Inductive Bible Study by Fuhr and Kostenberger

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This book is ideal for pastors, teachers, or students to get a grasp of studying the Bible either for personal study or sermon preparation. Though it covers some of the classroom jargon, it is written on an accessible level to help any of us. The well-respected authors rightfully admit there is both science and art at play in digging out the real meaning of Scripture. Then they proceed to help us learn the science side while confessing what the science side cannot provide. To my mind, they are highly successful in what they set out to do.

Inductive Bible study is simply hermeneutics with an evidence-based approach rather than a deductive, or assumption-based, approach. With so many bad habits out there, this is critically needed information. If you grab a handful of these type books, you’ll see that the authors often create their own design and, at times, terminology to present the rules of Bible interpretation. Some use a spiral, etc., but the author’s approach here is one of the best I’ve seen to practically understand the concepts.

They present the inductive approach as observation, interpretation, and application. The chart on page 45 shows the 5 steps of observation and each step gets a chapter. All are well done and the one on “determining literary units” provided a special and often-overlooked balance. Interpretation has 5 steps as well and application has three.  The chapter on determining word meanings should be read by everyone. Be sure to read to the end as I really appreciated how they concluded the subject. The charts throughout the book were outstanding as well.

This book is likely the best one out there for pastors and students today.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.