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He Gave Us Stories: The Bible Student's Guide to Interpreting Old Testament Narratives [Paperback]

By Richard L. Pratt, Jr. (Author) & Pratt (Author)
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Item description for He Gave Us Stories: The Bible Student's Guide to Interpreting Old Testament Narratives by Richard L. Pratt, Jr. & Pratt...

Stories are among the primary means God uses to reveal his truth to us in Scripture. The Old Testament is filled with stories: Noah and the ark, Daniel in the lions' den, Ruth and Boaz-stories of great men and women of God. What does God want us to learn from these stories? Is there more to them than meets the eye? Richard L. Pratt says yes, and he carefully outlines a method for grasping the wisdom of these ageless narratives. Beginning with the role of the Holy Spirit, he sets forth a three-step process of biblical interpretation.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: P & R Publishing
Pages   493
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1.25" Width: 6" Height: 9"
Weight:   1.55 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jun 1, 1993
Publisher   P&R Publishing
ISBN  087552379X  
ISBN13  9780875523798  

Availability  2 units.
Availability accurate as of Oct 24, 2016 10:34.
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More About Richard L. Pratt, Jr. & Pratt

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Pratt is Associate Professor of Old Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary and an ordained minister is the Presbyterian Church in America.

Richard L. Pratt currently resides in the state of Florida. Richard L. Pratt was born in 1953.

Richard L. Pratt has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Holman New Testament Commentary

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Criticism & Interpretation > Old Testament
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > General

Christian Product Categories
Books > Bible Study > Language Tools

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Reviews - What do customers think about He Gave Us Stories: The Bible Student's Guide to Interpreting Old Testament Narratives?

For what it attempts to do, it is very good  May 21, 2004
This was one of the first significant treatments of a literary approach to hermeneutics within evangelical circles at the time the book was first published. And while I personally don't think a literary hermeneutic is the only good way to read the Bible, Pratt does a good job of demonstrating that such an approach has much to commend it.

Traditional evangelicals and liberals alike tend to like dissecting the Bible into little pieces (verses or even words within verses) as its primary technique of Scriptural examination and interpretation. While this is certainly not bad at all, Pratt properly believes that such an emphasis carries with it the very real danger of contextual tunnel vision, where we miss the larger picture and end up missing a lot of what the Bible intends to teach us. Pratt's hermeneutic in this book emphasizes the importance of investigating the 'original meaning' of the text - how the text was to be understood by the original historical audience it was being written to. For example, if Moses wrote Genesis during the time of the exodus as the Israelites were either at Mt. Sinai or in the plains of Moab about to enter Canaan, this historical background helps the modern reader gain added insight into not only what Moses said, but why he said it. While there are dangers with this, as I will discuss below, when handled properly, much that we either didn't understand or particularly care about in the Old Testament become extremely fascinating and meaningful. Such an approach requires us to read the Bible as a piece of literature that is telling stories - inerrant stories that are purposeful and contain timeless truths that are in part flushed out better when we understand the particular cultural and historical messages that the Bible contained for the original audience and writer of each canonical book.

For readers who want to understand the relationship between the Old Testament and the Christian today in the 21st century, Pratt's approach is most instructive. Epochal, cultural, and personal adjustments are a critical part of his hermeneutic and help explain why we don't sacrifice bulls today or worship at a temple in Jerusalem, while showing how these things are still nonetheless significant and instructive for us today. Consistent with Reformed covenant theology, Pratt also insists that the Old Testament needs to be seen in the light of redemptive history, culminating in Christ. Kingdom and covenant are major organizing principles of Pratt's hermeneutic, and while readers should understand that this is far from the only good Christian model of approaching the Bible, Pratt provides a solid presentation of it here.

As with both the systematic and 'biblical' theological approaches, the literary approach is not perfect and contains some weaknesses and dangers. The major danger is that a literary approach, if not sufficiently controlled, can easily spiral into ungrounded speculation that could prove just about any point anybody wanted to make, regardless of whether that's what the Bible actually teaches or not. Pratt's book, while quite good at laying out a literary hermeneutic sprinkled with Biblical theology, could have been better in warning its readers of the danger of this approach when applied unrestrained. Pratt affirms that Scripture is the lone final authority to which we all must submit, but the book is a bit sparse on defining what exactly this means within a literary context in terms of establishing good controls that constantly force our literary musings back to the Bible as the final arbiter of legitimacy and truth.

But overall, this is an insightful book that will greatly challenge many of its readers to read the Bible in a fundamentally different way than they have up to this point. For the most part, this is a good thing and worthy of attention.

An interesting introduction to Old Testament interpretation  Dec 18, 2002
In He Gave Us Stories, Dr. Pratt introduces Old Testament interpretation in an approachable way. His aim, as stated in the preface, is to provide "motivated lay people and beginning theological students" with a method for biblical interpretation that is more practical and less technical. Through this approach, He Gave Us Stories appeals to a wider audience than a more scholarly volume would.

The principle idea of He Gave Us Stories is that the Old Testament narratives provide not simply a history of the Jewish people, but a revelation of God and the imperatives He has given man. However, because these truths are in story format, they must be interpreted to be of use to God's people today.

The backbone of the book is Dr. Pratt's three-fold approach to Biblical interpretation. The first four chapters cover the subject of "Preparing for Old Testament Narratives," the middle eight chapters deal with "Investigating the Old Testament Narratives," and the final four chapters are on "Applying the Old Testament Narratives." Dr. Pratt likens this approach to an archaeologist, who much invest a great deal of time, thought, and effort as he prepares for his project, searches for his treasures, and transports his discoveries home.

He Gave Us Stories provides more a simple method of hermeneutics than a formal system of biblical theology. With the exception of Chapter 12: Overview of Old Testament Narratives, the purpose, structure, and content of this book are pointed toward the exposition and application of individual texts.

This book is a useful tool for students and teachers of the Bible alike. Dr. Pratt has succeeded in making it accessible to those who are not textual and hermeneutical scholars. In particular, his focus on the stories of the Old Testament make the overall approach to understanding all the more appealing. Surely no person, learned or not, would be uninterested in stories. And certainly not these stories, since they are from God himself and teach us how to live our lives. The thread of stories weaves its way throughout the book.

The structure of He Gave Us Stories is also commendable. Dr. Pratt takes the principles of hermeneutics - a very complex subject indeed - organizes them, and states them in an uncomplicated way. And the ability to make the profound appear simple, according to C.S. Lewis, is the mark of true genius.

Tough mental work, but reward is great  Sep 12, 2000
This book requires mental work, but it is rewarding. Dr. Pratt's hermeneutic is revolutionary in the sense that it allows the reader-student (you must study it to get the meat of it) to unlock OT narratives like never before. His three-prong paradigm for interpreting a OT narrative text (and any narrative text) is simply profound. His hermeneutical adjustments from original meaning (epochal, cultural & personal) are very useful and helpful tools in the quest to rightly interpret any OT text. I heartily recommend this book to any serious student of the Bible. If possible, it would be best to read the text along with Dr. Pratt's audio or video tapes as he teaches through the book, if those are available. Soli Deo gloria, David Sims
Slow moving, but dry  Nov 5, 1998
Although I agree with most of Dr. Pratt's ideas and beliefs, I found this book extremely toilsome and, in some points, downright bland. I agree that it is good preparation for an intensive study of the Old Testament, but at the same time, I must admit that Dr. Pratt goes into too much detail on some minutae of the Old Testament.

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