Reviews - What do customers think about Introduction to Biblical Hermeneutics, An?
An Introduction to Biblical Hermeneutics Mar 25, 2007
Very infomative and helpful in my understanding and interpreting the bible.
A great introduction that also points the reader toward further study Jan 11, 2007
This book by Walter C. Kaiser, Jr. and Moises Silva is an excellent starting point for an investigation into all of the elements involved in Biblical hermeneutics (i.e. Biblical interpretation, as Silva so straightforwardly defines the term in the opening chapter).
The book is divided into four major parts (each part contains multiple chapters) which progressively build on one another; the interaction between the co-authors, as they take turns writing individual chapters, is remarkable. Kaiser and Silva do not always agree on all points, but the respectful interplay between their sometimes differing outlooks provides an example of what true scholarship is all about.
The four parts of the book have the following headings: 1) The Search for Meaning: Initial Directions (which includes general background information); 2) Understanding the Text: Meaning in Literary Genres; 3) Responding to the Text: Meaning and Application; and 4) The Search for Meaning: Further Challenges (which includes chapters on both the history of interpretation and contemporary approaches to interpretation).
The best thing about this book is that it is not so much a treatise on scholarly interpretation (though it certainly is scholarly), but that it attempts to help the reader to learn both how to interpret the Bible and then how to apply that interpretation to life. As the jacket copy of the book states, "In a culture that prizes individuality and personal freedom, the primary question is no longer 'Is it true?' but rather 'Does it matter?' Hence, the question of relevancy has taken precedence over the question 'What does the text mean?' This book therefore confronts the question of the meaning of meaning and shows how evangelicals may still clearly hear the Word from God amid the cacophony of the age."
For those who wish to pursue further study, especially in the areas of genre and critical approaches, the authors provide copious footnotes and an annotated bibliography at the end of the book. This is an excellent introduction to hermeneutics that is accessible to scholars and laypersons alike.
Right Place to Start on Biblical Hermeneutics Apr 19, 2005
For those wanting to know how one does proper hermeneutics this book is a good place to start. The authors (Walter Kaiser and Moises Silva) are conservative evangelical scholars and write from that perspective. Kaiser (who is a champion of multiple applications from a single text) and Silva (a traditional Reformed scholar) join together to help lay people and teachers on this important subject. Not only is this book good for seminarians who want to get a taste of hermeneutical methods, it also has a lot of practical applications for the laity who want to know how to read the Bible properly for personal devotion and life. Kaiser and Silva both avoid dry intellectualism, and write from a pastoral perspective too. Most of the chapters are good (especially Kaiser's), and most people will find this work very readable. However, I do have one concern over this book. It is a chapter written by Silva (Chapter 14: "The Case for Calvinistic Hermeneutics"). He contends that "proper exegesis should be informed by theological reflection. To put it in the most shocking way possible: my theological system should tell me how to exegete" (p. 261). True, Reformed theology's strength lies in its consistency, logic, coherence, and history. However, this can be its downful also (by the way, I am a Calvinist too). For instance, most in the Reformed tradition argue that Israel and the Church lie in continuity. Therefore, Israel as an ethnic body has no future in God's redemptive program. This leads them to reinterpret certain passages that speak of a national conversion of Israel near the Parousia (cf. Romans 11:26) to mean "spiritual Israel" (or the Church) or a "remnant" throughout history. Another example is Revelation 20. Since a literal Millennial Kingdom in the future is not compatible with Reformed/Covenant theology, they argue that we must spiritualize Revelation 20 to mean the present age (or interpret the "first resurrection" to mean a spiritual resurrection). The danger of allowing a Reformed "systematic theology" to control our exegesis of certain passages can lead to eisegesis and a meaning that is totally different from what the inspired writers meant to say. Here are the main methods of hermeneutics in Christianity:
1. Roman Catholic Hermeneutics:
2. Reformed Hermeneutics:
3. Fundamentalism and Arminianism:
4. Critical Scholarship:
5. Proper Biblical Hermeneutics:
Proper hermeneutics is not imposed out of a certain systematic theology; it is developed from exegesis that leads to a systematic theology. Reformed theology fails in this respect. This book should be read by all pastors, seminarians, and lay people. It is an invaluable tool that needs to be in every Christian library.
Two distinct voices echoing within the same book cover May 21, 2003
I picked this book up as a peremptory safety measure to reading William Webb's work on what he calls Redemptive Movement Hermeneutic: "Slaves, Women & Homosexuals: Exploring the Hermeneutics of Cultural Analysis". His is a commendable yet seemingly flawed work--I'll get to writing that review later.
Kaiser & Silva provide a brief but broad historical survey of hermeneutics, from the early rabbinic approaches for the Torah, to current principles held in regard today. It is a great "top-down" book, in that it provides a realistic context for those who attempt to unpack the scriptures. People of faith have been attempting this since receiving inspired texts, with varying depths of success and failure.
The voicings of the esteemed scholars are distinct, and I found the book rather choppy reading, like a multi-movement symphony alternating between 2 solo instruments: Kaiser's historic and subtle cello vs. Silva's warm, thoughtful oboe.
Personally, I found Silva's synopsis on the work and contribution of some twentieth century philosophers very resonant, in that we need to consider the 3 cultural horizons of the writer, the original audience, and our own baggage which we bring to the scriptures. A humble awareness of our experiential shapings is critical in approaching the Bible.
I hope the Church today can continue to redeem James 1:22 "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says." I find that our human experience, tradition and expectations can dominate the Church, rather than what it (the Bible) says. The Introduction to Biblical Hermeneutics supplies us a with a refreshing conclusion to work out our salvation with some humility, if not fear and trembling, that our old selves present barriers to understanding, as shown throughout the history of hermeneutical studies.
I also agree with the authors that the Word and the Spirit are sufficient for individual growth and the acqusition of Truth. Where members of the body of Christ collide is why accurate and authoritative interpretation is so required.
Rightly Dividing The Word of Truth Oct 13, 2000
This work was the central text for a seminary course in Hermeneutics, and I had anticipated a somewhat dry, calculated, formula based approach to Biblical interpretation. What I received was a tool chest of invaluable exegetical tools with which to treat the Word of the Living God with the highest honor that it deserves. Drs. Kaiser and Silva are very obviously not only theologians and scholars of the first order, they are lovers of God's Word, and they pursue Him in their lives and work. Their instruction shines the very passion of knowing and following Jesus, while using every intellectual tool that He has given us. This book has changed my approach to preaching and teaching, and will maintain a spot in my library...I plan to read and refer to it till the covers fall off!