Saturday, July 07, 2012

To Each Its Own Meaning by Steven L. McKenzie and Stephen R. Haynes

To Each Its Own Meaning: Biblical Criticism and their Applications
By Stephen L. McKenzie and Stephen R. Haynes
Westminster John Knox Press
Reviewed by Clint Walker

Biblical criticism, in some circles, is not looked highly upon. Referred to as "higher-critical methods", many conservative and/or fundamental Christians would believe that using such tools violates the integrity or demeans the authority of Scripture. I do not always share this view. Personally, I believe that each of these interpretive tools needs to be evaluated on their own merit, and used judiciously to help the interpreter of Scripture get the most intelligent, thorough understanding of Scripture available.

To Each Its Own Meaning covers the best and most prominent of the critical tools available to a Bible student in interpreting Scripture. It begins by discussing the most well-established of the critical tools that are available. Then they introduce some newer ways of approaching the Scripture that also try to find objective meaning in the text.

As the authors spend the second half of the book discussing more contemporary approaches to Biblical criticism. The reader will discover that several of the emerging methods of interpretation are more explicitly focused on using the Scripture to speak to contemporary situations. Many of these ways of understanding Scripture are less interested in drawing objective information from the text as they are using the text to speak to a particular concern.

To Each Its Own Meaning is a monograph. So, each chapter brings a different perspective, most often from an expert and advocate of a certain way of interpreting God's Word. Each chapter is smart, well-written, and challenging. The reader may not agree with each persons way of understanding the text, but these ways of reading the Scripture are becoming so prominent that it is important for all responsible interpreters of the Bible to have a working knowledge of these methods.

This would be a great book to use as a text in college or seminary. If I was a professor, I would assign a class to read through the book, and then use 2-3 of these methods to approach a specific text with while developing a Bible Study or sermon.

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