16 August 2015

Book Review: Reading the Bible with Heart and Mind

I think many Christians recognize the importance of reading the Bible, but many times, they have a hard time making heads or tails of what the Bible is all about. There are a number of great resources that help people to navigate like How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth by Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart, Dig Deeper by Nigel Benyon and Andrew Sach, or 40 Questions About Interpreting the Bible by Robert Plummer and Benjamin Merkle. Reading the Bible with Heart and Mind (1997) by Tremper Longman III is another great addition to the genre.

Longman divided the book into four parts--the Bible's transforming power, the receptive heart, the understanding mind, and the literary cornucopia. One of the best things about this book is that Longman addresses the whole perhaps, just as the Bible does. He reminds the reader that Scripture is not to be read just in the abstract, but in the real ruddiness of life.

Chapter 7 is an important chapter. Longman presented the reader with several application principles:
  • Look for the author's intended meaning. 
  • Read the passage in context. 
  • Identify the genre of the passage. 
  • Consider the historical and cultural background of the Bible. 
  • Pay attention to the grammar and structure within the passage. 
  • Interpret experience in the light of Scripture, not vice versa. 
  • Always seek the full counsel of Scripture. 
The final section, comprising the majority of the book, explores the major genres of the Bible: History, Law, Poetry, Wisdom, The Prophets, The Gospels, The Epistles, and Apocalypse.  Understanding the difference between each of these literary types will go a long way to making sense of what the Bible means. 

Having read each of the books above, I think this is the one I am most likely to recommend now. It is accessible and wise.

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