Biblical Hermeneutics

Biblical Hermeneutics

by Duncan S. Ferguson


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This sensible, balanced work provides a clear overview of biblical hermeneutics: its history, method, and implementation. Ferguson combines several topics not usually found in a single volume: crucial theological issues and historical-philological questions, the complexities of interpreting the various types of biblical literature, ways to use the Bible in the life of the church, and examples of how the Bible has been and is interpreted.
A comprehensive survey, Biblical Hermeneutics covers the field with an openness of perspective. Ferguson's well-organized introduction is an impressive resource for understanding and performing the task of biblical interpretation.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781610973762
Publisher: Wipf & Stock Publishers
Publication date: 10/14/2016
Pages: 230
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.48(d)

About the Author

Duncan Ferguson has served in the church and higher education as a chaplain, professor, and senior administrator. He received his PhD from the University of Edinburgh and has had an interest in writing across his career. His recent books are Exploring the Spiritualities of the World Religions (2010), Lovescapes: Mapping the Geography of Love (2012), and The Radical Teaching of Jesus (2015). He has been engaged in several programs related to international peace and justice and is currently focusing on Israel and Palestine.

Table of Contents

I The Issues of Biblical Hermeneutics 1

1 Hermeneutics: The Continuing Responsibility 3

The Complexity and Urgency of the Task 3

Toward a Definition of Hermeneutics 4

The Role of Preunderstanding 6

A Taxonomy of Preunderstanding 13

2 Hermeneutics: The Critical Assumptions 23

The Presence of Assumptions 23

The Nature of the Bible 23

Concepts About the Bible 30

3 Hermeneutics: The Crucial Issues 40

Biblical Faith and History 40

Revelation and History in Modern Theology 41

Faith and Historicity 51

Faith and the Resurrection of Christ 60

"Hearing" the Word of God 63

II The Practice of Hermeneutics 65

4 Finding a Method 67

The Present Situation 67

Getting Oriented 68

Biblical Criticism 71

The Bible for Theology and Church 79

Interrelating the Four 82

A Concluding Observation 83

5 Coping with Variety 85

The Diversity of the Biblical Literature 85

Attempts at Unity: Typology, Allegory, and Analogy 85

Language Usage 88

Variety of Genre 92

Interpreting Scripture 100

6 Using the Bible 104

In Theology 104

In Worship 115

In Teaching and Pastoral Care 120

In Spiritual Formation and Ethical Decision Making 123

Hermeneutical Maxims for Using the Bible in Christian Nurture 126

III Hermeneutics in the Life of the Church 131

7 The Classical Approach: Origen and the Allegorical Method 133

Preliminary Considerations 133

The Formation of Origen's Thought 135

Origen's Hermeneutical System 141

An Evaluation 147

8 Modern Approaches: From Luther to Schleiermacher 150

Luther in Context 150

Luther's Approach to the Bible 158

An Appraisal 163

9 Contemporary Approaches: From Schleiermacher to Ricoeur 166

Luther's Legacy 166

Hermeneutics Since Bultmann 173

Concluding Observations 180

10 A Brief Summary and a Modest Proposal 184

A Summary of the Argument 184

A Modest Proposal 189

Notes 195

Index 209

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"What I like best about Duncan's books is that they are theologically balanced, generous to alternative viewpoints, and practical. Whether it is a basic introduction to theology or outlining the principles of good biblical interpretation, Duncan always keeps his audience in mind and meets them with useful insights. His work is very useable for church and adult study groups."

—Thomas F. Johnson, PhD,Professor of Religious Studies (ret.), George Fox University

"In this day of increasing ignorance about the Bible, when people have little sense of the content of scripture and media-exposed preachers use the Bible only as a prop, we need a sound, reliable, and engaging invitation to the text itself. I am grateful that Duncan Ferguson has given us just that. He is a knowledgable and trustworthy guide. No one will read this book and come away without new insight and a fresh sense of a much-needed Word for us today."

—Mark Valeri, The Reverend Priscilla Wood Neaves Distinguished Professor of Religion and Politics, The John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics, Washington University in St. Louis

"There is no innocent reading of Scripture! Every contemporary reader of the book of Psalms or the Gospel of Matthew engages those texts with a perspective formed consciously and unconsciously by cultural, religious, and personal biases. To add to the complexity, the biblical writings themselves were composed, revised, and collected by communities of faith in the westernmost edge of Asia over a period of several centuries and changing cultural contexts stretching from the Iron Age to the Roman Empire. The challenges brought to the task of making sense out of the Bible today from the side of the reader as well as from the side of the Bible means that the possibilities for confusion and misinterpretation are nearly endless. Ferguson's masterful work comes to our rescue!  By equipping us with the conceptual tools and skills that we desperately need, this scholarly yet accessible guide equips Digital Age readers to honor the integrity of the writings of Scripture while making meaningful connections to the pressing issues of the contemporary world. This book is a crash course in the theory and practice of responsible biblical interpretation."

—Rev. Dr. Gordon S. Mikoski, PhD, Associate Professor of Christian Education, Director of PhD Studies, and Editor, Theology Today, Princeton Theological Seminary

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