40 Questions About Interpreting the Bible

May 20, 2013 — Leave a comment

9780825434983Way back in January, I reviewed Paul’s Missionary Methods: In His Time and Ours. The book was edited by Robert Plummer and John Mark Terry, the former of whom got in touch with me over Facebook and offered me the opportunity to review his other book, 40 Questions About Interpreting the Bible. I already had a copy of my own, but suggested that he could send me a copy and I’d feature it in a giveaway, and so here we are.

If you’re not familiar with this series, or this particular volume, here’s the rundown. Each volume tackles a particular subject through the lens of 40 key questions. Answering the questions is obviously the aim of the book, but it takes a scholar who knows his stuff to select the best 40 questions in the first place. Plummer’s book breaks the questions down into the following groups:

  • Questions about text, canon, and translation
  • Questions related to interpretation
  • Questions related to meaning
  • Questions about the various genres in both testaments
  • Questions about specific NT issues
  • Questions about specific OT issues
  • Questions about issues in recent discussion

In these questions, there is something for everyone. While aimed at general readers, Plummer doesn’t shy away from getting into recent trends like speech act theory and theological interpretation of Scripture. But on the other hand, neither does he ignore basic questions like “Why is Biblical interpretation important?” and “How is the Bible organized?” Basically, someone has never given any concentrated thought into biblical interpretation could pick this book up and start with the first question (“What is the Bible?”) and be guided into sound principles of interpretation. Likewise, the reader who is already actively trying to understand the Bible better can pick this book up and find guidance for more advanced issues (“Can a text have more than one meaning?”). And even those of us who’ve graduated from seminary can find this book as a useful refresher, as well as a potential teaching tool (which I think I just might do).


Overall, I’ve liked the layout and nature of this whole series, and this book is no exception. If you’re serious about understanding the Bible and want to use sound principles of interpretation, this book is great starting point. The questions cover all the basics and then some, and Plummer’s answers are clear and to the point. You’d do well to keep up with this whole series, but this book is definitely the place to start.

If you’re in RSS, you’ll probably need to click through to see the PunchTab form. As always, just follow the prompts to earn your entries! I do want to add this disclaimer though: I plan on starting a blog newsletter in the coming weeks or sometime before Google Reader’s demise. By entering your email, you are also adding yourself to the mailing list. You can enter the giveaway without using your email, but if you go that route, that is what you’re doing (and this will be true in giveaways from now on!)

Here’s the giveaway info:

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I'm an avid reader, musician, and high school Bible teacher living in central Florida. I have many paperback books and our house smells of rich glade air freshners. If you want to know more, then let's connect!

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