How to read the Bible for all its worth

I’d heard a lot of good things about this book by Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart and so I borrowed a copy from the church library. I recall not being too impressed by it. That was two years ago. I tried it again this year and I can’t figure out why I didn’t like it the first time.

The authors wrote this book to give laypeople guidelines for interpreting the different types of literature (genres) that make up the Bible. God chose to give His word to us in the form of proverbs, prophetic oracles, riddles, drama, biographical sketches, parables, letters, sermons and apocalypses, and each has its own special rules of interpretation.

Though written by two seminary professors, How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth is neither dry nor complicated. Sure, it repeatedly uses big words like exegesis and hermeneutics, but it explains them first. It contains lots of itemised lists, which is great for people like me who like them. Best of all, most of its advice can be applied without special tools or knowledge—one of the repeated exhortations the book gives is to read, re-read and then read the Bible text some more.

In a series of 13 posts I shall share my notes on the book, with each post corresponding to a chapter of How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth. I’ll occasionally throw in some extra links to related resources I’ve found around the internet in the hopes of getting you to check in every time (just kidding!).

Posts in this series
1 The need to interpret
2 The basic tool: A good translation
3 The epistles: Learning to think contextually
4 The epistles: The hermeneutical questions
5 The Old Testament narratives: Their proper use
6 Acts: The question of historical precedent
7 The Gospels: One story, many dimensions
8 The parables: Do you get the point?
9 The Law(s): Covenant stipulations for Israel
10 The Prophets: Enforcing the covenant in Israel
11 The Psalms: Israel’s prayers and ours
12 Wisdom: Then and now
13 The Revelation: Images of judgement and hope

Bonus links:

  • Gordon Fee, one of the co-authors spoke at a conference and I took some notes.
  • Douglas Stuart, the other co-author, held a course which follows the book (I haven’t listened to this)
  • You can listen to an Old Testament survey by Douglas Stuart either at Biblical Training or  at Gordon-Conwell (I’ve not listened to the latter)