Hermeneutics is a word that can, and usually does, scare even a well-seasoned student and/or pastor. Much effort is exerted into the process of understanding, interpreting, and applying a text. Thankfully, there are authors, scholars, and theologians who have distilled years of knowledge and practice into, as one reviewer said, “dense and practical” methods as to not be daunting to any person.
Grant Osborne belongs to such a breed. His book The Hermeneutical Spiral is a volume that guides the reader through the proverbial wilderness of the field of hermeneutics. It is necessary, however, for preachers, teachers, and students to possess skills to determine the meaning and applicability of the biblical text. Osborne’s book enhances these skills and techniques in three parts.
The first part provides the foundation to the meaning and necessity of hermeneutics. Without a consistent hermeneutical method, those who seek to proclaim the message of the Bible will invariably provide their own meaning based on their own prejudices, rather than exegetically understanding what the text says. To understand the weight of studying the Bible, Osborne begins the book by saying, “For the true believer there is very little as important as studying God’s Word seriously.”
Different genres of biblical texts are discussed in the second part. That which is learned in part one must now be applied to part two. Osborne is thorough to ensure the reader grasps each genre for application of the text. I also appreciate his inclusion of the usage of the Old Testament in the New Testament. Many questions are posed when authors of New Testament passages use the Old Testament, and even more so in preaching.
Finally, Osborne closes with the biblical application of hermeneutics. He stated in his introduction that expository preaching, the proclamation of the biblical text, is the end of all theological inquiry. I am also grateful that Osborne recognized the need to include the application of hermeneutics after guiding the reader through this process.
Dense, thorough, comprehensive are all words used to describe The Hermeneutical Spiral. If the word hermeneutics brings disdain or apprehension, do not worry. This book is the guide you need to walk you through the essentials of developing a consistent hermeneutical method.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from InterVarsity Press. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and a positive review was not required. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.
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