The Barnabas Ministry

Biblical Interpretation
If there was ever a skill more needed but less known, understood and used-- it is Biblical Interpretation. It is at the root of every spiritual issue and question. It affects our knowledge about God and his ways. It affects our choices and expectations. Its use or misuse is particularly evident when we get into questions of spiritual abuse and unhealthy spiritual systems.

There are some misconceptions about Biblical Interpretation that we are going to have to do away with immediately:
So what makes a good interpretation? A good interpretation has the following characteristics:
These might sound like a lot of work, but the reality is that anybody can become a good interpreter of Scripture. The chief rule is not to take a passage out of context, but to understand it in its context. A good interpreter is always learning and growing in the skills that support solid interpretation.

Even after doing all of this, some passages are open to multiple interpretations. In these cases, it is important to consider the strengths and weaknesses of each possible understanding and to consider which best fits the context. While disciplined interpretation is especially beneficial for difficult passages, it is critical for all passages. In fact, most Bible readers who learn to take interpretation seriously begin to realize that their past  interpretations of passages that were once considered "easy" are often the result of bad interpretation!

Some spiritual leaders may discourage or even mock learning Biblical Interpretation. They may say it is more important to have the "right heart" or to "do what the Scriptures say." What is more indicative of having the "right heart" than truly seeking to understand what God has said or refusing to allow others to distort what he has said? And how can one "do what the Scriptures say" without knowing what they say?

The articles below are intended to help the reader appreciate, practice and grow in this skill. The intended end result is building a solid foundation for your faith on God and the truth he has provided in the Bible.

Bible Basics

Bible Basics (11k)
Bible Translations (15k)
New Testament Survey (65k)
Short discussion of the circumstances surrounding each New Testament book.

Bible Outlines

Gospel Harmony Summary (65k)
Taken from A Harmony of the Gospels

An Outline of the Law of Moses (188k)
A topical outline of the Law of Moses with a discussion of the relevance of the Law for Christians today.

Psalms (43k)
An examination of the Psalms and how they might be used in the life of a Christian.

Introduction to Biblical Interpretation

Basics of Interpretation (27k)
Faithful Interpretation (35k)
Obstacles to Good Interpretation (15k)
The Church and Biblical Interpretation (61k)
Problems with “Scripture Alone” (44k)

Basic Tools

Building Your Library (13k)
Survey of the various types of books available for your library, and help on deciding what books are right for you

Exegetical Fallacies (2k)
D.A. Carson, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI 1984, 1996. Excellent book on avoiding mistakes in Biblical Interpretation.

How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth (2k)
Gordon D. Fee & Douglas Stuart, Academie/Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI 1982. A "must-read" book on Scriptural exegesis

Useful Books

Introduction to Biblical Interpretation
William W. Klein, Craig L. Blomberg, Robert L. Hubbard. Word Publishing Co., Waco, TX 1993. College-level textbook on biblical interpretation.

The Expositor’s Bible Commentary
Frank E. Gaebelein General Editor (Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan 1979) (Originally 13 volumes, now on CD-ROM)

The New Manners and Customs of Bible Times
Ralph Gower (Moody Press, Chicago, Illinois 1987)

The Zondervan Pictorial Bible Atlas
E. M. Blaicklock, Editor (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 1972)

The Zondervan Pictorial Bible Dictionary
Merrill C. Tenney, General Editor (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 1967)

A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature
Arndt, William F.; Gingrich, F. Wilbur (University of Chicago Press, 1979).

A Harmony of the Gospels: With Explanations and Essays: Using the New American Standard Bible (4k)
Robert L. Thomas Editor, Stanley N. Grundy, Associate Editor. (Moody Press, Chicago, IL. 1978, 1986).

The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology
Colin Brown (Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1975) (4 volumes, also available on CR-ROM)

Theological Dictionary of the New Testament
Kittel, Gerhard, Friedrich, Gerhard, editors. Abridged by Geoffrey Bromily (Eerdmans, Grand Rapids Michigan 1985)

Church History in Plain Language (2k)
Bruce Shelley, Word Publishing, Dallas, TX. 1995.

Harold O.J. Brown, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI 1984. A fascinating look at the development of Christological doctrine in the face of heresies in the early church.

Introduction to the History of Christianity
Edited by Tim Dowley, Fortress Press, Minneapolis, MN  2002. If you're looking for a great overview of church history, this is it. Hundreds of illustrations, charts, pictures of artifacts, etc. Best one-volume overview of history I know of.

New Testament History
F.F. Bruce, Doubleday, Garden City, NY. 1980. A great synthesis of biblical and secular history in the first century.

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