Getting the Message

getting-the-messageI mentioned in a previous post about a new class I’m taking and mentioned that I would post additional information on other books I’m reading for that class.  The second book we’re looking at is Getting the Message: A Plan for Interpreting and Applying the Bible by Daniel Doriani.  I as at first hesitant to like this book mainly because Doriani is the guy teaching the class – you know how some of those guys can be who teach the class that they wrote a book on.

But after reading a little, I’d highly commend it to anyone wanting an good, introductory, non-technical, easy-to-read guide to learning how to better read the Bible.


Our current focus is on Chapter 4, “The Historical Context” and I’ll share some portions here:

Just as the knowledge of a friend’s situation, goals, and motives clarifies a conversation, so the knowledge of biblical contexts enhances our understanding of Scripture (p44).

Who is the author and why is he writing?  What is the need of the hour and what does he hope to accomplish by writing?  Who is reading and why?  How do the readers live and think day by day?  A study of the historical context has three goals:  (1) to retrieve, as best we can, the world of the Bible, (2) to discover the circumstances involved in the writing and the reading of particular books, and (3) to investigate the individual groups who play roles in the biblical drama (p44).

Doriani goes on to provide three key principles for historical context:

Principle 1: The more we know about the world of the Bible, the better we understand the Bible itself (p47).

Principle 2: To evaluate the relationship between a write and his readers, look for pointed questions and objectives, sharp rebukes, and terms of endearment (p50).

Principle 3: In historical books, we need to understand the cultures of the people who acted out of the dramas the Bible (p51).

He goes on to draw on an example in comparing the book of James to the book of Galatians and discussing works vs. faith and then concludes with some practical advice:

Getting started is one of the harder steps, but the more you learn, the easier it is to learn even more.  If you are beginning serious biblical studies, acquire a Bible dictionary or encyclopedia [he recommends some in the appendix], be patient, research one issue each week, and keep on reading the Bible, always attending to its basic themes and central passages.  Excellence develops slowly, but it rewards handsomely.


~ by toddbumgarner on February 19, 2008 12:26 pm.

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