by D. Adams November 10, 2006
Robert Stein (professor of NT at Bethel Theological Seminary) explains the importance of playing by the rules of Bible interpretation to grasp the author’s original intent.
One point the author makes is to establish the Rules of Interpretation. Stein breaks this into a four part teaching consisting of Hermeneutics, Vocabulary, Spiritual and Biblical, and the different Forms of Scripture. Stein lays out the roles of the Author, the Text, and the Reader. The second main point in the book is the specific rules of the individual games such as; Wisdom, Prediction, Poetry, Idioms, Hyperbole, Parables, Biblical Narrative, Epistles and Treaties, Laws, and Songs.
Another concept is the literary genre (literary form) being used by the author that governs that form. An example is the author had previously struggled with the correct meaning of the Beatitudes. Stein realizes that the Beatitudes were not addressed as “conditions for membership” rather, as blessing addressed to “as blessings pronounced upon those already within the kingdom” The author gives very convincing details as to why we should believe this interpretation.
A final important point is the Sensus Penior (fuller meaning) of the text in chapter six. And the difficulties when this speaks about when the author willed to convey one truth, God had a different truth he willed to convey by the same vocabulary and grammar. An example of this is addressed in Isaiah 7:14 and Hosea 11:1 (Isaiah’s day) which would mean a maiden (described as a virgin in the NT) would give birth to a son named Immanuel.
In conclusion, "A Basic Guide to Interpreting the BIBLE" by Robert H. Stein discusses a myriad of scriptures, putting them in the proper literary form to discover the original intention of the author. The author has presented the necessary steps needed to put the scriptures in proper context as the Biblical authors intended.
My opinion of the book is that the author has spent a great deal of time in his research, and he has a vast knowledge of scripture. Many valuable resources are utilized within the book, and the book is very well outlined from start to finish. I found the book challenging and difficult to read at times, yet it heightened my awareness to the importance of proper hermeneutics. If you are countering struggles in understanding scriptures, I highly recommend adding this book to your shelf as a valuable reference tool whether you are an apologist or lay Christian. Each chapter ends with a questionnaire to get you engaged with the concepts.