From the start I (Michael) just want to say How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth is one of the first books I would recommend for anyone who wants to apply the truth of Scripture to their lives. I recognize that is a strong statement, but I truly believe many people’s Biblical illiteracy is due to their feeling unequipped to read and understand Scripture on their own. Despite our feeling ill-equipped, God has shown that His Word is of tremendous value to Him; you only have to read stories of how the Bible has been preserved throughout the years to know this is true. If it was God’s heart for us to read it and have it change us, then our proper response is not only to simply read it, but equip ourselves to study it so we can best apply it to our lives. Now the task of studying the Bible takes some guidance, but not everyone has the time or money to go to college or do an SBS to figure out how. This is where this wonderfully concise book comes into play.
The goal of How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth is to show the reader the value and steps of doing good exegesis and hermeneutics while studying the Bible. These two terms may be new for many, but put simply, exegesis is the process of interpreting the text through its historical and literary context (similar to the observation and interpretation steps of the Inductive Bible Study method we teach in SBS). The goal here is to make sure that the principles you interpret from the text would not be completely foreign to those who originally read it. Once such a principle is obtained, one can look at how there may be comparable situations in our own contemporary lives, to which we can apply the Scriptures (hermeneutics). Often this looks like trusting in elements of God’s character that are timeless, or understanding imperatives that are just as much a part of the Kingdom reality today as when they were revealed to the original readers. Fee and Stuart (the authors of How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth) do a fantastic job of arguing the value of such Bible study and give great references for external materials helpful in doing good exegesis.
Additionally, each literary genre in the Bible is explained so one can understand, for example, that we cannot read Paul’s letter to the Romans the same way we might read the book of Genesis. Each genre of literature and its structure was chosen for the way the original authors communicated their messages. I for one feel God’s value for me when I understand the creativity He inspired when the authors of Scripture recorded their revelations of God. I feel the only right response to such an effort on God’s part is to try to put some effort into understanding what God is saying through His Word by studying it.
Now this book will not hold your hand through every book or passage, but the tools are there to be well equipped to begin a life-giving personal study of the Bible. If, however you want a more specific guide, Fee and Stuart have also written a book that walks the reader through each book of the Bible, called How to Study the Bible Book by Book: A Guided Tour. The heart of these Spirit-filled academics is for people to be transformed by the reading of God’s Word; that is my hope also, and I hope you are encouraged to go deeper in your study of the Bible.