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Fee and Stuart begin their work by giving description of the need for proper biblical interpretation in order to have a better understanding of the Scripture. The authors identify that exegesis followed by hermeneutics is the starting point of interpretation. In Chapter Two, the authors undertake a lengthy discussion regarding the significance of using good Bible translations. They enthusiastically endorse the use of dynamic equivalence translations rather than formal equivalence. Chapter 3-13 addresses various hermeneutical questions and employs sections of the Scripture to demonstrate principles of interpretation. They begin with the epistles in Chapters Three and Four. In this section, they present the concept of thinking contextually and address some introductory hermeneutical questions.
In Chapter Five, the authors explore the Old Testament in order to enlighten readers about the suitable tools essential for understanding of the narrative. In Chapter Six, the authors give attention to the book of Acts, as well as its historical precedent. At this point, the study focuses on what was prescriptive and descriptive besides what was normative. This model of study continues throughout the rest of their work. They employ the Gospels, in Chapter Seven, to show the dimensions and complexities of the Scripture. Fee and Stuart then teach how to study parables, law, and prophets in Chapters Eight, Nine, and Ten respectively. In Chapter Eleven, they use the Book of Psalms to explore Hebrew poetry and its relevance. They answer the question, âHow do these words spoken to God function as a Word from God to us?â In Chapter Twelve, they examine the relevance of Wisdom books then comparing to their significance today. Chapter Thirteen explores the Book of Revelation. An appendix concerning commentaries as well as the list of commentary recommended by Fee and Stuart end the book.
Fee and Stuartâs work is exceptionally valuable in giving insights into Bible interpretation. If all Christians were to read this book, reduction of garbage and dissent is likely to be attained then. The bookâs major strength lies in its assertion that Bible scholars ought to focus on message in context instead of single verses. Such reading would limit the number of cynical doubts on certain texts. In addition, the authors explain, âA text cannot mean what it could never have meant to its authorâ. It is another strong point in this work. The tone employed by the authors also stands as strength in their work. The content is approachable as the authors use questions that readers could easily ask themselves. They also use memorable examples to pass information. The preacher that argues that topknots are unbiblical is one of such examples. Notably, they have extensively used examples from the Scripture. In fact, they have drawn at least one example from each of the 66 books of the Bible.
While the authors unswervingly address certain controversial issues that have surrounded exegesis and hermeneutics, a few weaknesses characterize their work. Fee and Stuartâs weakest argument appears in Chapter Two. In this chapter, the two endeavor to help readers settle on appropriate English translation essential for their studies. They pursue this goal by persuading readers to adopt their view of dynamic equivalence as the best translation. Although, they do not favor formal equivalence, they fail to offer clear explanations. This failure is a major weakness as it expressly ignores the diversity of Bible readers and the potential of various translations in equipping saints.
Remarkably, Fee and Stuart appear to contradict their assertion regarding the superiority of dynamic equivalence. While recommending dynamic equivalence translations, they suggest that readers can employ a good formal equivalence translation to act as a second source for the study. They reason that the move is essential in giving the reader confidence concerning the texts as they appear in the original Hebrew and Greek. In case if they thought of formal equivalence translations as truly useful, the authorsâ support for the latter ought to give more evidence instead of passing a sentence. If the dynamic equivalent translations are superior as asserted by the authors, one may wonder why there is a need to reassure what the original Hebrew and Greek texts hold?
Although the authors appeared charitable in most part of the work, their tone in a few instances appeared superior. For example, the scholars sharply criticize evangelistic ministers for unpredictability concerning application of the principle regarding cultural relativity. They insist that evangelicals employ âthis principle to leave âa little wine for thy stomachâs sake.â Moreover, they note that evangelicals do ânot insist on head coverings or long hair for women today.â âThey become downright indignant when someone tries to defend same-sex partnerships on the same grounds.â
However, this comparison appears erroneous. The supposed abuse of the principle by evangelicals rebuking the sin bears no inconsistency. Same-sex marriage contravenes Godâs order of creation. Auspiciously, the authors argue against the same later in the book. They note, âThere seem to be no valid grounds for seeing it [same sex relations] as a culturally relative matter.â Consequently, it raises questions why they had to include the issue censuring evangelicals of the 21st century.
How to Read the Bible for All its Worth is a valuable book for readers who desire to advance their understanding of biblical hermeneutics. Fee and Stuart take an approach that is thorough, as well as comprehensive. Therefore, this book might not be suitable for individuals who are new to biblical hermeneutics. However, to apologists and theologians, the book remains relevant and useful despite the weaknesses mentioned above. It enables readers to focus on paragraphs instead of verses in order to understand the larger context. If the principles in this book are adopted, readers will preempt most heretical notions and find answers to most skeptical objections. Finally, through their book, Fee and Stuart have effectively addressed misgivings that have long characterized biblical interpretations.