Friday, March 09, 2012

Book Review of Invitation to Biblical Interpretation by Kostenberger and Patterson

by Andreas J. Kostenberger and Richard D. Patterson
ISBN 978-0-8254-3047-3
Kregel Academic and Professional
Reviewed by Clint Walker
(book provided for review by publisher)

I am not one of those people who disparage seminaries, or my seminary education. I believe I learned a lot of helpful things in seminary, and probably forgot even more things that would help me as a pastor today. I am sad, however, that we did not have a hermeneutics course when I was in seminary. In college, I had a class on biblical interpretation, which combined inductive Bible study techniques with some hermeneutical issues. In seminary, our school's philosophy was to integrate hermeneutical principles into our entire curriculum. Yet, every time I read and hear about the discipline of hermeneutics, I feel like there is a big gap in my theological education. Mainly, this is because I do not know the jargon, the lingo, and such.It is for this reason that I decided to get a hold of the book Invitation to Biblical Interpretation by Kostenberger and Patterson.

Kostenberger challenges his readers to use a triad of resources in interpreting Scripture's meaning. He argues that readers of Scripture must understand the Word of God in its literary context. He then challenges readers to put Scripture in its literary context. Finally, Kostenberger and Patterson argue that with these two tools we can begin to formulate a theology. That theology will then inform how we interpret other texts.

Although the authors' hermeneutic is a little bit more fundamental and (reportedly) patriarchal than mine, I think this is a great resource for introducing the practice of biblical theology. There are several things I like about this book. First, it has an uncanny ability to integrate academic concerns with real life interpretation for those leading  everyday working people.

Not only will I learn a lot by having this book on my shelf; I am also aided immensely by the way the authors have laid out the material in a way where I could communicate the truths of this book simply to others. For instance, the three parts of the triad are easily communicated when teaching others about interpreting Scripture. The extended outline at the beginning, as well as some of the hints in the introductory material of the book will make this book easy to use with a class in an academic setting. If one wanted to do a "baby hermeneutics" class in the church, this book would be a good resource to guide one's presentations (though the book itself might be less interesting to people in Sunday School).

If you are a biblical conservative, you want to understand how to interpret Scripture faithfully, and the flashy paperbacks on the issue did not go into enough depth, this might be the book for you. It would also be a great book for a college religion class.

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