The very term “hermeneutics” is rather intimidating to many people. What does it mean? Well, sometimes its easier to understand something by witnessing it in action–in real life–than it is to grasp it as an abstract concept. Thanks to IVP Academic you can now do just that with Biblical Hermeneutics: Five Views.
Usually I keep multi-view view books in my library for reference, but the approach of this book makes me want to read it straight through.
Rather than simply outlining and defending their methodologies in the abstract, the contributors to this book excercise their interpretive convictions on a specific passage, Matthew 2.7-15 (ESV). It reads:
7 Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” 9 After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house they saw the child with Maryhis mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. 12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country byanother way.
13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take thechild and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” 14 And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt 15 and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”
This allows the reader to see hermenutics in action–the use of a specific methodology in order to extrapolate meaning from the biblical text. This allows the reader to experience the hermeneutical process while identifying how each approach produces varying emphases and readings while still remaining correlate with the historic Christian confession. To top it off, IVP has assembled an exceptional cast to write this book. It includes the editors Beth Stovell and Stanley Porter as well as the following scholars:
- Criag L. Blomberg who represents the historical-grammatical/critical method
- F. Scott Spencer representing the Literary/Postmodern approach
- Meroald Westphal on the Philosophical-Theological perspective
- Richard B. Gaffin arguing the Redemptive/Historical
- and Robert W. Wall with the “Canonical” approach