By using a set of guiding principles Fee and Stuart engage the reader by putting them in the session of both interpreter and expositor, encouraging the reader to employ the principles of both Hebrew and Greek word studies for proper elucidation. The writers do take in to consideration the difficulties involved in extracting truth from the bible. They acknowledge “… When a person form our culture hears the word cross, centuries of Christian art and symbolism cause most people to think of a Room cross”(18).
This is repeated throughout the text underscoring the need to recognize the gap that will always exist from the modern and ancient cultures in literary expression. The book acknowledges that “the Bible is God’s Word and has eternal relevance; it speaks to all human kind in every It is however important to note, that although these and other consideration re are mad this book is still primarily an English interpretation of the scripture. Fee and Stuart emphasize the belief in the superiority of certain biblical translations for study.
They believe the more modern translation such as the NIB give the reader a decisive advantage in studying the text of Bible from translation such as the KAVA. The use of one primary text is encouraged, to ring a level of continuity to biblical study. The use of what they consider superior manuscripts in the NIB is discussed but they are clear to note that other translations are not bad. This must be looked upon in light of the limitation of the English language as well. Far less descriptive than Hebrew, Airmail or Greek, the issue is further compounded by culture.
The issue of culture is discussed in the book however this writer feel more emphasis should have been placed on eastern vs.. Western that ancient vs.. Modern. The lens that we view what we read is for more powerful from a ultra than time. Example would be Jesus use of the word ‘ unman” (John KAVA) when speaking to his mother at the wedding in Can, or the phrase if a man slaps your right cheek (Mat 5:39 NIB). Both f these among others are cultural references that deal specifically with east and west. The biblical translation would also play a major role in how these Verses are applied.
It is obvious Jesus would not disrespect his mother but spoke as a term of endearment, and he also would not expect a man to allow his self to be brutalized unnecessarily. It cannot be assumed that bible student would immediately know that further investigation of these colloquialisms would be required for proper exposition. Overall fee and Stuart do encourage the student to look beyond the surface and that in itself is a testament that this apparent oversight was unintentional. The book approaches the extraction of truth from the Bible by breaking the books into genres.
By doing this Fee and Stuart call for important details to be categorized for closer examination in the context they were intended to be viewed. Beginning with the New Testament Epistles they follow with Old Testament Narratives, The Book Of Acts and a further breakdown of the Gospels and other Old Testament categories. They call upon the bible student to investigate the purpose, audience, and context of the each biblical category. This allows the student to compartmentalize each section while still maintaining biblical continuity.
This approach also allows the student to fulfill one of the goals of the book which is to make the student act as interpreter(18). Just as we are well aware that the Bible is not always chronological, it is always specific in pointing the reader to the One who inspired the words it contains. The Epistle are discussed first in the book, perhaps to bring the reader in the most closely related material their personal Christian experience first. Fee and Stuart use the Epistles as a bridge to help the reader engage the Bible in light of its context.
The reader is encouraged to study the culture to which the Epistles were written. The book compares the ancient metropolis Corinth to modern day New York or Los Angles. The reader is also encouraged to read the book through one sitting (59). The bible student will then be able to view the text s the people of that day, not in chapter and verse as we do now. The mood of the letter can in many ways be more easily determined because the fullness of the writers’ frame of mind is allowed to expand to its entire capacity. The Gospel’s are viewed with a similar approach.
The immediate declaration that “Jesus did not write a gospel, they come from others not from Him” (127). This allows the reader to exegete the text with the understanding that the Spirit of God is using men to tell them about Jesus. A breakdown of the similarities is given, but more specific emphasis could have been placed n the correlation of the synoptic gospels message to their original audience. The continuity of the Gospels is acknowledge and the genius of the Bible having four is perhaps neutralized in light of the presentation of Jesus the Christ to that audience.
It could be that the writers are giving the student opportunity to engage in a more detailed exegetical method, however because such a key element of the Gospels affects the interpretation of books such as Acts it requires mentioning. The Old Testament, which in some ways seemed a more difficult assignment, was approached with great care and strategy. The law, as complex as it is was viewed as a forerunner and a spiritual gauge. Emphasis was given to the laws unique relationship with Israel (169) and a proper viewpoint of a believer (165).
This is usually a very touchy subject in academic circles. The law viewed as teacher or guide is widely accepted because there is a biblical basis for it. Fee and Stuart give a thorough breakdown of the Mosaic Law as a covenant with Israel, as well as in relation to its pre new covenant status. The book makes the reader aware of the difference in dietary law, moral law and civil law. This is most important cause allows proper continuity of the law as being fulfilled but not abolished.
The study of the law in Fee and Stuart work brings the student into an excellent position of understanding the role of Old testament prophetical books. Much Of the prophecy given to Israel was a result of overt disobedience of the Law. The covenant is paramount in God’s relationship with His chosen people. The book takes the student to a place where the depth of God’s mercy can be readily seen with His judgment. Described as “covenant enforcement mediators” (1 84), God’s prophets were feared and revered.
The process of “identifying sin or obedience and pronouncing blessing or curse (186) was a reoccurring theme in the Old Testament. The book details the reason for this in its Old covenant context and a proper application to the believer today. A sense of covenant principle, God will do as he has promised is derived from the text. The hermeneutics journey that the book engages the reader in allows them to experience the scripture in a type of dual encounter. The lack of a personal experience with the Spirit of God by the Old Covenant people of God can be readily intensified from the text.
This problem is addressed to the believer as well, because Of the potential abuse as prophecy used with second meanings. New testament writer often quote Old testament prophecy, however the text clearly states “we are not inspired writer of scripture” (202). This gives credence to the saying the only thing definitively inspired in a Bible id the text not the margins. The poetry and wisdom of the bible are examined with emphasis being o exegesis for practical application. The book of Proverbs is studied as a book of “memorable aphorisms” (231) that can help in making responsible choices.
The need for this delineation is evident in today’s Christian world as many attempt to focus o a literal interpretation that has caused many to falsely accuse God of being unfaithful to his word. The principle of training up a child in the way he should go, does not override a children will to choose to do evil. Although Psalms is described as “difficult to apply’ (205) the book does an excellent job of categorizing the collection which allows the reader to begin a study of the book with the knowledge that careful consideration should be given to the writer, time and context of each piece.
Fee and Stuart also point to the wisdom that is contained in the book as well as the symbolic references that can be applied to our modern society. Psalms is viewed as a “guide to worship, intermediary to an open and honest relationship with God and the importance of daily reflection (223). The book How to Study the Bible for All Its Worth is overall an excellent example of the use of modern interpretive techniques to help the laymen understand the biblical text. It should be noted that this was the intent of the author and therefore the repose of the book is fulfilled.