Review: Inductive Bible Study

29227863The amount of books concentrated on biblical interpretation published in the last two decades is astonishing. These books are generally situated within the academic guild and tend to categorize themselves under the disciplinary umbrella of biblical hermeneutics. Other books tend to fall into the more popular-level category of inductive Bible study—a method concerned with discovering the meaning of the text based upon evidence (induction) rather than assumption (deduction). The importance of both approaches should be undeniable to every student of the Bible, but blending the two is rarely attempted. It is here that Inductive Bible Study: Observation, Interpretation, and Application through the Lenses of History, Literature, and Theology by Al Fuhr and Andreas J. Köstenberger provide readers something that is both unique and timely to the present landscape of interpretive resources.

Inductive Bible Study brings together the most recent advances in Evangelical scholarship and pairs it with a blended approach to inductive Bible study. That is, Fuhr and Köstenberger found their approach on the hermeneutical-triad (history, literature, and theology) while utilizing an inductive methodological framework (observation, interpretation, and application) to accomplish this task. The book is divided into four units. The opening section of the book discusses the task of biblical interpretation and outlines the various principles of inductive study. This is a perfect entry point for both novice and seasoned readers, as Fuhr and Köstenberger do an excellent job setting the stage for the pages that follow. The second section concentrates on the “Observation” aspect of inductive Bible study, including comparing translations, asking proper questions of the text, and detecting unique literary and discourse features. Fuhr and Köstenberger provide readers with numerous examples to illustrate each observational milestone and position the reader with sufficient information to begin observing in the text almost immediately.

The third section focuses on the “Interpretation” aspect of inductive Bible study. It is here that the foundational nature of the hermenutical-triad is most present within the book. The reader is directed towards the importance of context, interpretive and thematic correlation, lexical study, and more. Fuhr and Köstenberger provide the reader with expert guidance as they illustrate the prominence of proper interpretive skills and equip the reader to discover the meaning of the text in its historical, literary, and theological context. The fourth section focuses on the “Application” aspect of inductive Bible study. At roughly 60 pages, this is the smallest section of the book apart from the introduction. That said, Fuhr and Köstenberger have done an excellent job bringing the prior aspects of inductive study to an appropriate end. Like the other sections, the reader will find numerous examples illustrating the dos and don’ts of application, as well as practical wisdom for establishing relevant application to the modern context. The sensitivity of Fuhr and Köstenberger to this last section brings the laborious task of biblical interpretation to a fruitful and joyous conclusion.

Inductive Bible Study: Observation, Interpretation, and Application through the Lenses of History, Literature, and Theology by Al Fuhr and Andreas Köstenberger is a breath of fresh air for both students and professors. Fuhr and Köstenberger have provided a balanced approach that is both methodologically and theoretically tailored for the contemporary audience. Students will appreciate the abundance of examples throughout, and professors will find the organization and content well-suited for the semester. But, more than that, any serious student of the Bible will be able to engage this book with dividends of lifelong reward. If you are looking for a book that will both instruct and encourage you to read the Bible with care, Inductive Bible Study is easily one of the best and most up-to-date on the market.

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