Interpreting the General Letters: An Exegetical Handbook
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Kregel Publications / 2013 / Paperback

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Interpreting the General Letters: An Exegetical Handbook

Kregel Publications / 2013 / Paperback

Buy 48 or more for $20.89 each.
In Stock
Stock No: WW427688

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A concise guide to the interpretive process for the eight New Testament general letters

This handbook is designed as a step-by-step approach for analyzing and communicating eight letters of the New Testament: Hebrews, James, the Petrine Letters, the Johannine Letters, and Jude. Interpreting the General Letters provides important background material for the interpretation of these books by exploring the types and component parts of letter writing, the importance of an amanuensis; the historical background of the Greco-Roman world, and implications of each of these factors for interpreting the general letters.

This foundation is followed by a discussion of the theology of the general letters. Specific consideration is given to the era of promise in Hebrew Scriptures, the era of fulfillment as underscored in the general letters, and how the theology of each letter contributes to the overall canon of Scripture.

Finally, Bateman provides nine steps that move from interpretation to communication: three steps for preparing to interpret the letters, three for interpreting, and finally three for communicating the letters. All explanations include examples in order to develop a student's or pastor's skills for accurate interpretation and convicting communication of God's Word.

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 320
Vendor: Kregel Publications
Publication Date: 2013
Dimensions: 9.00 X 6.00 (inches)
ISBN: 0825427681
ISBN-13: 9780825427688
Series: Handbooks for New Testament Exegesis

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Bateman presents a thorough process for exegesis of the Greek text of these letters, with examples and insights into the text that reinforce the value of doing the hard work of exegesis. This is a valuable introductory tool for students who are learning how to interpret the General Letters and a trustworthy guide for pastors.
-Edward Glenny,
University of Northwestern

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  1. Pastor Jim
    Maricopa, AZ
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: male
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    May 11, 2014
    Pastor Jim
    Maricopa, AZ
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: male
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    This is another volume of the "Handbooks for New Testament Exegesis" series. Like the earlier work of Paul's Letters the same helpful layout is found. It has the same basic features:

    Each chapter begins with an overview and ends with a summary of the chapter. This aids the reader in knowing where the chapter is going.

    There are very usable charts within the chapters that are understandable.

    A selected bibliography at the end.

    He also has a glossary at the end for terms an average reader may not understand.

    This volume on the General Letters is surprisingly over 100 pages larger than the one on Paul's letters. This gives an indication of Bateman's quality and quantity of his work. Of course, these general letters are Hebrews, James, 1 & 2 Peter, 1, 2, & 3 John, and Jude. This classification implies that Hebrews is not a Pauline letter.

    He opens his work on the "Genre of the General Letters" (Chapter 1). In this he gives the parts of the letters and shows that these writers follow the normal form of Ancient letters of the time. He shows how each letter follows the form. He also has an excellent section on professional writers which was greatly needed because of the low literary rates at the time, and pseudonymity. He notes that using professional amanuenses (writers) was normal at the time.

    He then moves on to the "Background of the General Letters" (Chapter 2). In this chapter, he takes a look at the Greco-Roman world with special interest in the Judean-Roman relationship. He points out some of the implications for interpretation because of the relationship, which he says will vary from book to book. He does center upon wisdom (James), household codes (1 Peter), and rebellion (Jude), all of which speak to human experience rooted in the Greco-Roman world.

    He now takes a look at the "Theology of the General Letters" (Chapter 3). He first presents the overview of the theology of the Bible is built on the strategic plan of Promise and Fulfillment. He sees the Old Testament presenting the Promise. The New Testament is the era of fulfillment of the promise. "The church period is a time in which God relates with all people through Jesus because God inaugurates His kingdom-redemption promises through him" (page 104). These letters indicate the kingdom portion of his program has been activated through Jews. It is fair to say he views the promise activated redemptively in the church, but complete promise fulfillment is in the millennial period. He is correct that the kingdom theme is evident in these letters representing it in the already/not yet viewpoint. He presents somewhat a dispensational view of eschatology. On a more practical aspect of theology he shows these letters center around a perseverance and conduct of the believer. He points to a strong ethic emphasis in these letters. He then moves to a Biblical theology of each letter to identify the main theme of each letter. To sum up it up, he sees the emphasis as:

    Hebrews—Apostasy verses perseverance

    Petrine Letters—Godliness in suffering

    Johannine Letter—Relationship with God is determined by believing the truth.

    James and Jude—Living wisely and impartially with other people.

    Since this is a handbook on interpreting the text, Chapter 4 deals with "Preparing to Interpret the General Letters." The first three important steps out of the seven he gives overall. They are:

    Step 1: Initiate a Translation

    Step 2: Identify Interpretive Issues

    Step 3: Isolate Major Textual Problems

    At this point he becomes more directed and detailed on Exegesis. He gives a step by step process and examples on how to do the process. This chapter would be of interest to those who are interested in the history of translation and manuscripts. He also spends time on how to use the Greek text. He points out some key reference works and programs to aid in this task.

    Chapter 5 is on "Interpreting Passages in the General Letters." Here he continues his points of interpretation started in the last chapter:

    Step 4: Interpreting Structures

    Step 5: Interpreting Style, Syntax, and Semantics

    Step 6: Interpreting Greek Words

    He talks and gives examples of finding structure, and points to main verbs of independent clauses and important connectors along with the how verbs or verbals of a dependent clause are vital to determine structure. He shows importance of style by using Hebrews 1:1-4; syntax by looking at 1 John; and semantics looking at 1 Peter. On interpreting Greek words he deals with some of the difficult words in Jude. He clearly shows that exegesis must be done with the Greek text.

    Chapter 6 takes up the subject "Communicating the General Letters." He completes the step format in this chapter: His last three steps are:

    Step 7: Communicating Exegetically

    Step 8: Communicating the Central Idea

    Step 9: Communicating Homiletically

    He shows these steps by using 3 John. He clearly shows that proper communication of the text is built one step at a time. The process (preparation; interpretation; communication) is hard work, but it pays off in the transmission of the truth of each letter. Communication of the text must be built on the exegetical structure of the letter.

    Chapter 7 is entitled "From Exegesis to Exposition of the General Letters." In it he gives an exposition of Jude vv.5-7 and Hebrews 10:19-25. In each he works through the steps he has just given. In each passage he gives the Greek text; the critical issues of the text; the exegetical outline; and the exposition of the text.

    Overall, this is an excellent handbook for the exegesis of the General Letters. I am disappointed in one aspect; he does not fully capture the important Jewish aspect of these letters. However, I found it insightful and helpful guide. Anyone doing work on the General Letters must have this book. It is designed for Bible students, Pastors, and teachers. It would make a good textbook for the academic study of the General Letters or on the subject of exegesis.

    I received this book free from Kregel Academic in exchange for the review. I was not required to write a positive review, and the opinions are my own.
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