Hermeneutics, clarifying the meaning of biblical texts, is a difficult task. Kostenberger and Patterson want to make that task easier for you.
“This book is trying to teach a simple method for interpreting the Bible. It involves preparation, interpretation, and application. The method for interpretation is built around the hermeneutical triad, which consists of history, literature, and theology. In essence, our core proposal is this: for any passage of Scripture, you will want to study the historical setting, the literary context, and the theological message.” (23) The biblical message is grounded in history, conveyed through literature, explored through theology and has the ultimate goal in interpretation.
The first element in the triad is history. Scripture is rooted in history. The genre and language in which God chose to reveal Himself reflect the historical context.
The second element is literature. Scripture is writing and has three components: canon, genre, and language. The passage is located in the canon, its genre is determined, and the language used is considered (outlining, word studies).
The third element is theology. This is the climax of biblical interpretation.
The authors use a sevenfold method: Preparation, History, Literature (Canon), Literature (Genre), Literature (Language), Theology, Application and Proclamation. Included, and considered vital, are the heart preparation of the interpreter and the act of application.
The authors have a conservative view, taking into account the divine authorship of the Bible and its necessary application to life.
Each chapter begins with a list of objectives and an outline. The authors end each chapter with a sample passage to which the principles discussed in that chapter are applied. Study questions follow and then a bibliography of pertinent resources.
This book is a good balance of theory and practice. It does not include tedious philosophical discussions. It would make a great textbook for colleges, seminaries, and lay study groups. The writing is clear (without technical jargon) making it particularly useful to lay people. There is a great deal of information in this book, making it a very useful single volume on hermeneutics.
Abdreas Kostenberger is Senior Professor of new Testament and Biblical Theology and Director of PhD Studies at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Richard Patterson is Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Liberty University.
There are, apparently, added resources for this book at www.kregeldigitaleditions.com, although all I found was a PowerPoint format presentation (at a cost). You are also supposed find some resources at www.biblicalfoundations.org, (Kostenberger's site), although, again, wandering around all the links on that site, I did not find them. They may be available in the future, including chapter quizzes and a syllabus shell.
Kregel Publishers, 891 pages. Publisher product information.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Kregel for the purpose of this review.