As promised, today I’m not only reviewing All Roads Lead To The Text, but also offering an opportunity to get a free copy for yourself! If you’d like to be entered into the drawing, simply (1) share this post on Facebook or Twitter (tagging me so I can track it) and then (2) leave a comment below telling me why you’d like to add this book to your library and I will randomly select one winner a week from today. Each share gets you one entry, so you’ve got a week to share away if you really want to improve your odds!
This is probably one of my favorite books I read over my summer break (which technically ends tomorrow when I have faculty training/orientation). Clearly the culmination of many years teaching Bible study methods, this book has something for everyone, and while ideal for the classroom, is also suited for the armchair theologian running Logos software on his computer and wanted to get seminary level tips.
This book actually intersects several interests of mine, in addition to the obvious. First, it’s clearly a book about biblical interpretation. Second, it reflects years of teaching experience and provides exercises at the end of the chapters that I just might make use of in my classes. Third, it presents the material within a “sticky” framework.
If you remember, I noted in my review of Biblical Hermeneutics: Five Views that even the contributors there admitted that their views were somewhat compatible (to a certain extent of course). What Dean Deppe does in this book is offer 8 different ways of studying the Bible, which rather than “views” on interpretation, are “ways” to go about interpreting. Rather than synthesizing them into a single approach, he treats them as separate, but complimentary “roads” into Scripture. Instead of continuing the “journey” metaphor, he opts for an ingenious metaphor of different “lenses” you look through to “see” the text. Talk about a visual aid!
In that light (you can take that as a pun), here’s the methods and corresponding lenses:
- The infrared lens of literary analysis
- The microscopic lens of grammatical analysis
- The skeleton snapshot of clausal outlining
- The wide angle lens of contextual analysis
- The telescopic lens of historical and cultural analysis
- The motion picture camera of exegesis through history
- The finished photo of theological interpretation
- The x-ray of our presuppositions, personality, and spiritual background
Each of these is a single chapter in the book, and they are all followed up by two pretty aggressive appendices on differentiating genres and literary techniques. And if that’s not enough, there is a bonus glossary of more literary techniques and grammatical terms. It’s kind of like a book on interpreting scripture and a refresher on that freshman English class you weren’t really paying attention to because, well, you were a freshman.
The chapters (and I suppose the appendices/glossary) are stand alone so you can read them in any order. And you know me, if it seems plausible I’ll read in a different order than the page numbers suggest. So, looking at the list above, I read like this: 8-7-6-5-1-2-3-4. But you can do whatever you want. I did not (yet) take advantage of the copious study and discussion questions at the end of each chapter, because, well, it’s still summer. But you can bet my 10th graders are going to be doing some of those here in a couple of weeks for homework assignments.
There is a huge strength of this book, and I’ve been saving it. This book actually has two subtitles, one of which you can plainly see on the cover. The second subtitle though is this: “A template for model exegesis with exegetical examples employing Logos Bible Software.” That’s right, it’s a book on biblical interpretation, a refresher on English grammatical vocab, AND a way to improve your Logos Bible Software IQ. Doesn’t get much better than that does it? (Brian Regan would probably submit that it cannot). So, you’ve got a book that covers pretty much all the varieties of interpretive strategies and gives you specific advice for how to use Logos to better employ those strategies. Short of a textbook sized book, I think this is the best handbook on biblical interpretation I’ve come across.
As you might guess, I’m presenting this book as all strength. I may come back later with some weakness in relation to presenting this material to high school students, but that would probably just mean I didn’t communicate it well, or it was just too much. Neither of these would be a fault of this book. Basically, if you use Logos, and you want to study the Bible deeply, then you ought to pick up this book (or share this post and leave a comment below to have a chance to win it!). Deppe is thorough in his presentation, and rather than just describe the method, he offers numerous examples in each chapter. It had the effect of reading a miniature commentary on many passages since he goes into so much detail.
While I did rate it Bible School/Seminary reading level, someone without formal schooling on the Bible could probably work their way through this book with some patience (and maybe Logos). It would definitely make for some heavy reading, but at the same time I’m not sure the book would be effective if it weren’t pretty academic. For me, this was poolside reading (about half of it done in that manner) since I’m comfortable with the concepts and the prose is smooth and engaging.
That being the case, I’m not really sure what could have made this book any stronger and I really only have positive things to say about it. It was enjoyable to read and I would highly recommend it. I decided shortly into it that I want to use Deppe’s lens metaphor/analogy to teach sound hermeneutical principles in my high school teaching capacity. Since the hermeneutics proper in only in fall of 10th grade, I may spread the lens out over the 3 years I have students in Bible. We’ll see.
- Author: Dean Deppe
- Title: All Roads Lead To The Text: Eight Methods of Inquiry Into The Bible
- Publisher: Eerdmans (November 10, 2011)
- Paperback: 416pgs
- Reading Level: Bible School/Seminary
- Audience Appeal: Anyone wanted to improve their Bible study methods IQ, but mainly those really serious about it.
- Gratis Review Copy: Yes (courtesy of Eerdmans)