How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth

How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth

by Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart

Reviewed by Terry Akers

bookNow in its third edition, with more than half a million copies sold, How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth has become a standard resource for the Christian lay person.

The newly revised paperback edition is an excellent teaching tool for the inquiring seeker and Bible student. Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart have combined their talents to make the principles of sound biblical interpretation accessible to the modern reader.

As the back cover explains: "In clear, simple language, it helps you accurately understand the different parts of the Bible — their meaning for ancient audiences and their implications for you today — so you can uncover the inexhaustible worth that is in God’s Word."

The book is widely used in seminaries for introductory courses in biblical exegesis, and the updated edition features revisions that reflect current language and scholarship. Considerable rewriting of several chapters also makes the text more readable and user-friendly. Fee and Stuart’s easy-to-understand style brings the art of biblical interpretation into the everyday world of the layman in a way that makes Bible study interesting and rewarding.

The authors, one an Old Testament scholar and the other a New Testament scholar, cover issues of translation, the literary genres (epistle, narrative, parable, poetry), and the meaning of the writings for their original audience and their implications for the church throughout its history. They show how proper interpretation requires various methods of exegesis according to the literary type being studied — Gospel, Law, Apocalypse, Wisdom.

How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth guides readers toward a better handling of Scripture by teaching them how to avoid misinterpretations through the proper use of context. Throughout the book, the importance of reading a passage holistically, according to the overall content of Scripture, is emphasized. Bad exegesis and quirky doctrines often result when a particular biblical statement or passage is taken out of cultural, historical or theological context and emphasized apart from the whole of revelation.

The book’s introduction explains: "The aim of good interpretation is not uniqueness; one is not trying to discover what no one else has ever seen before. Interpretation that aims at, or thrives on, uniqueness can usually be attributed to pride (an attempt to ‘out clever’ the rest of the world), a false understanding of spirituality (wherein the Bible is full of deeply buried truths waiting to be mined by the spiritually sensitive person with special insight), or vested interests (the need to support a theological bias, especially dealing with texts that seem to go against that bias)."

How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth demonstrates how the Bible must be read theologically — through the lens of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ — rather than in overly literalistic or idealistic ways. By remaining safely within the "middle swath of orthodoxy" and learning to listen in humility to God’s revelation, Bible reading is shown to be not merely informative, but transformative.

Copyright © 2005

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