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West Union, OH
5 Stars Out Of 5
Comprehensive and Influential
March 23, 2017
West Union, OH
This massive book lives up to its subtitle of a comprehensive introduction to Biblical interpretation. Its the fullest volume I have seen on the subject and it brings the word encyclopedic to mind. Theres no way that you could find any subject in the field of hermeneutics not mentioned in this book. Its greatest strength may also be its greatest weakness as it may be simply to prolix for some people. Still, Grant Osborne has had as much direction in the scholarly world for hermeneutics study as anyone in the last 30 years. Additionally, this busy scholar has written a few important commentaries along the way.
His conception of hermeneutics as a spiral form from text to context has become the preeminent academic theory of biblical interpretation today. In this book, he breaks down the hermeneutical spiral in great detail. In his lengthy introduction, he explains the issues of interpretation, the difficulty of acquiring meaning, how to view the Scriptures, the place of the reader in interpretation, and how the goal of hermeneutics is expository preaching.
Part 1 is on general hermeneutics and covers five chapters. He takes in turn context, grammar, semantics, syntax, and historical and cultural backgrounds. In each case, he describes the range of things that has been believed in the subjects and strongly argues for his own perspective. Again, the detail is incredible and covers main issues as well as esoteric ones.
Part 2 covers genre analysis, or what we might call special cases in hermeneutics, in nine chapters. In my opinion, he shined even more in this part. The special sections of the Bible can be difficult in biblical interpretation and he gives much food for thought in every category. Even where I could not agree with him, I found him both exhaustive and interesting.
Part 3 is special. He calls it applied hermeneutics and he covers biblical theology, systematic theology, homiletics contextualization, and homiletics the sermon. This section continues past where most hermeneutics books end. In making the natural progression to homiletics, he provides almost a second book on that needed subject for preachers all within the same covers of this book. Theres two appendices at the end on some fairly-narrow scholarly issues too.
Theres no doubt that this is a five-star book. The only question is if its too much for some readers. For those who want THE book on hermeneutics, this is it.
I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255.
Well-established as the standard evangelical work in the field of biblical hermeneutics since first being published in 1991, The Hermeneutical Spiral: A Comprehensive Introduction to Biblical Interpretation by Grant R. Osborne has been revised and expanded to meet the changing needs of the next generation. New chapters on the Old Testament law and use of the Old Testament in the New have been added, and general revisions have been undertaken throughout the volume. While the original work was well-situated to provide the reader with a longstanding example of usefulness in its presentation, this revised and expanded edition proves itself to be a much more refined demonstration of scholarly and practical engagement with the biblical text.
The Hermeneutical Spiral is a massive volume boasting over 600-pages. Osborne appropriately begins the investigation with an introduction to situate the reader for the task ahead. It is here that Osborne rightly understands the task of hermeneutics as the means of accomplishing an ecclesiastical end. For Osborne, the final goal of hermeneutics is not systematic theology but the sermon. The actual purpose of Scripture is not explanation but exposition, not description but proclamation (p. 29). This proves to be more than a mere statement of conviction for Osborne, as the outline of the book will effectively bring the reader from the examination of the biblical text in their original languages to the homiletical execution of a Sunday morning sermon.
As The Hermeneutical Spiral unfolds, Osborne helpfully directs the attention of the reader to the biblical text. It is here that the reader is introduced to the importance of context, grammar, semantics, syntax, and historical and cultural backgrounds. This section is imperative to the task of biblical hermeneutics and Osborne does an excellent job at guiding the reader through each. A high point from this section was Osbornes discussion on semantic fallacies, including the root fallacy, misuse of etymology, the one-meaning fallacy, and much more. The careful reader will know and understand the importance of this section well, as most modern pulpit crimes are the result of semantic negligence and the proclamation of semantic fallacies.
Next, Osborne directs the attention of the reader towards an analysis of the various biblical genres. For Osborne, Genre functions as a valuable link between the text and the reader (p. 182). It is here that the hermeneutical groundwork that was laid in the prior section is applied to specific types of literatureOld Testament Law, Narrative, Poetry, Wisdom, Prophecy, Apocalyptic, Parable, and Epistle. This section also concludes with a helpful chapter on the use of the Old Testament in the New. A high point in this section was Osbornes discussion surrounding the genre of biblical narrative. Specifically, the various aspects use to study biblical narrativesource, form, redaction, and narrative criticism. The latter being among the most helpful.
Lastly, Osborne appropriately closes the volume with a section dedicated to the application of the hermeneutical investigation undertaken in the previous sections. It is here that the reader is able to identify and interact with three applicationary aspects of biblical exegesisbiblical theology, systematic theology, and homiletics. Each of the three applications are discussed in detail, and the connection to the previous sections is unmistakable. However, the clear high point of this section was Osbornes interaction and application of hermeneutics to the task of homileticsboth contextualization and sermon delivery. Osborne effectively lands the plane after a 600-page round trip flight from biblical text to target audience.
The Hermeneutical Spiral: A Comprehensive Introduction to Biblical Interpretation by Grant R. Osborne is a massive volume that leaves no hermeneutical-stone unturned. Osborne recognizes the task of hermeneutics as the primary means of a homiletical end and rightly equips the reader to function out of this recognition. In other words, as the reader continues to move between text and context on the hermeneutical spiral, sound exegesis brings the reader closer and closer to the intended meaning of the text and its significance for today. While The Hermeneutical Spiral is likely more detailed than the average reader is looking to digest, Osborne has provided a volume that cannot be overlooked by any serious Student of the Bible, especially that of the Pastor or Teacher.
I received a review copy of this book in exchange for and honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.