Inductive Bible Study: Observation, Interpretation, and Application through the Lenses of History, Literature, and Theology
Richard Alan Fuhr, Jr. and Andreas J. Köstenberger
B&H Academic, 2016. 371pp.
Religion/Biblical Studies/Exegesis & Hermeneutics
In Inductive Bible Study, Richard Alan Fuhr, Jr. and Andreas Köstenberger want to provide readers with “the capacity to approach the Scriptures with humble confidence and to give you the tools you need for a lifetime of fruitful Bible study.” To accomplish this, they teach an inductive method of Bible study which focuses on engaging the biblical text through observation, investigating the biblical text through interpretation, and acting on the biblical text through application.
After covering introductory issues in the first section, they devote one section each to observation, interpretation, and application. The section on observation helps readers understand how to see what type of data is present in the biblical text. First, they show what kinds of questions readers should ask a text and how to start discerning the answers to those questions. Also, they teach readers how to look for important terms in the text and how to identify the text’s literary contours.
The next section takes readers on a tour of the work involved in properly interpreting a text. They begin with the crucial task of understanding the historical, literary, and theological context and then show readers how to properly handle the tricky task of words studies and lexical analysis. They also demonstrate how to study topical themes across the Bible and close by helping readers understand how to use research tools.
The authors close with an overview of how to properly apply a biblical text. They argue “that which is meaningful for our day must have its foundation in correct interpretation, the meaning of the text in its original context.” The first chapter in this section guides readers through a method for understanding whether a text applies to a particular situation based on the text’s history, literature, and theology. The final two chapters explain how to live out the text today and how to “do theology.”
Benefit for Pastoral Ministry
The modern evangelical church seems to be wrestling with a severe case of biblical illiteracy. Much of the problem lies not in a lack of sound Bible study resources, but from ignorance of the methods involved in properly reading, understanding, and applying the message of Scripture.
Pastors can bemoan the current glut of biblical knowledge, or they can begin working to reverse the trend in their local churches by helping their people understand how to engage the biblical text in a manner that is faithful to Scripture. Inductive Bible Study is a helpful tool for the task of equipping Christians to know how to read the Bible, understand the Bible’s message, and apply the Bible’s message to their lives.
While Inductive Bible Study will be a challenge for those who are not accustomed to reading and thinking seriously, the effort involved will pay huge dividends. Pastors would benefit from using this book to train teachers and church leaders so that they better know how to read, interpret, and teach the Bible. It would also be a valuable resource to use in personal discipleship. The pastor can work through this book with men who could then take it and work through it with other men. If read widely and used rightly, Inductive Bible Study would be a useful tool to raise up a generation of men and women who know, love, and live out the message of the Bible.
Essential — Recommended — Helpful — Pass It By