What follows is the foreword to my Applying the Bible series of books.
Interpreting the Bible can be a complex and difficult task. Thousands of years separate us from the original audience, and so the worldview, presuppositions, cultural mores, common knowledge, and even the language the author and his original audience shared are foreign to us. Consequently, much of the information necessary for properly understanding Scripture goes unarticulated in the background of the text, leaving us to decipher these silent interpretive keys. We must therefore keep in mind the old adage that the Bible was written for us but not to us and be willing to undertake the often intense labor of biblical interpretation.
Yet, as difficult and time consuming as the process may be, if we value Scripture as the Word of God, we must seek to understand those messages that would have been clear to the original audience but remain opaque to us. We must bridge the gap separating us from them. Even those of us who believe that the Holy Spirit is indispensable to sound hermeneutics must recognize that he does not function as a laborsaving device, accommodating our laziness and placating our aversion to the difficult work of exegesis.
Nevertheless, interpreting Scripture is not a task reserved solely for scholars, though we may frequently rely on their work. It is a duty that every believer can and should undertake, and it is for this reason that I have written this series. Overcoming the linguistic and cultural barriers separating us from Scripture’s original audiences can be difficult, but doing so opens up the meaning of the text and, most importantly, its proper application in our lives.
I should note that I am a lawyer, not a scholar. While I do have formal theological training, my primary expertise is in evaluating available authorities, analyzing their strengths and weaknesses, and synthesizing them into a coherent and practically applicable argument. I attempt to do so here in a manner that is accessible and understandable to all. While I do make occasional references to the original languages, I endeavor to do so in a manner that is both comprehensible and beneficial to those who possess no knowledge of Greek or Hebrew.
I hope that this series is helpful to you as you attempt to apply the Bible to your own life. If you are looking for a book on the underlying mechanics of interpreting Scripture, I recommend Grasping God’s Word by Scott Duvall and Daniel Hays. I have studied under both men, and I highly recommend their work. If you are looking for a more scholarly evaluation of the Scriptures I discuss herein, I recommend exploring the materials I list in the bibliography at the back of this book.
If you have any questions or comments about this or any other text in my Applying the Bible series, please feel free to contact me directly at [email protected]ttham.com. In addition, if you would like to be notified of any future works I release, you may sign up for my mailing list here.
I hope this book helps you in your journey through the Scriptures, and I wish you the best of luck.