Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
JETS 59:1 (March 2016) p. 147
For the Love of God’s Word: An Introduction to Biblical Interpretation. By Andreas J. Köstenberger and Richard D. Patterson. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2015, 444 pp., $36.49.
For the Love of God’s Word is an abridgement of Köstenberger and Patterson’s more thorough Invitation to Biblical Interpretation (Kregel, 2011, 891 pp., $56.90). According to the introduction, this “essential digest” is for high school, home school, and college students. One might suspect the authors have much to offer given their distinguished teaching careers and Köstenberger’s post as editor of this Journal. Grant Osborne calls the book “an invaluable guide.” Such an assessment is persuasive since it comes from the author of The Hermeneutical Spiral, which is itself both invaluable and essential for the would-be exegete.
The authors of this book succeed in many ways. The book is very readable, well organized, and helpful by way of charts, diagrams, indices, glossary, statements of objectives, and outlines for each chapter. For example, they provide a chart of biblical texts that connect the Ten Commandments with underlying principles (p. 66). Guidelines, key words, assignments, and key resources are provided at the end of each chapter. A threefold approach to interpretation is reinforced by a pyramid shape with the study of history and literature at the base and theology at the top. The shape and approach suggests that following the method of this little digest offers reasonable assurance of valid interpretation, which I would contrast with Osborne’s suggestion that a “spiral” method is more reliable. Awareness of and sensitivity to nagging questions is very helpful as is the authors’ care in making necessary distinctions (e.g. uses and types of law, p. 63). The bulk of the text (chaps. 5–13) takes the reader through the spectrum of literary genre and language concerns. Genres treated include history, poetry, prophecy, parables, epistles, and apocalyptic, while chapters 12 and 13 deal with context and word meaning. Each chapter guides the reader through characteristics of the genre and reasonable methods for interpretation based on those characteristics. This material offers helpful, basic tools for interpretation as well as an initial antidote against misreading texts. For example, in chapter 5, the reader is reminded that the term “story” does not imply fiction (p. 104). The reader is also informed that historical material has many purposes, including theological, doxological, didactic, and aesthetic (p. 107).
There are a few ways in which the authors may not have succeeded, at least not in everyone’s eyes. If there is any truth in the saying, “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing,” then it is especially tru...
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