Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Grasping God's Word, a Review

Grasping God's Word is a mammoth of a book. It's used as a textbook for seminarians and other students of the bible. Me, I'm just a Sunday School teacher and a lover of the Word. So why did I read it? I was looking around on NetGalley and found an ARC for the third edition* of the book. I thought it could be helpful for Sunday School, sent the request to Zondervan, and soon I had the ARC on my Kindle.

On the down side, I've rarely had good luck with sending ARCs to my Kindle via NetGalley. Most of the time, the things are shoddy and formatted to a point where I either can't read at all or I would have to exude great effort to do so. This is to be expected some, as the books are ARCs, but they still need to be read-able. In this case, Grasping God's Word is read-able, but there are plenty of graphics that are impossible to decipher. Also, quotes and footnotes don't display correctly.

Besides this, and this stuff really won't affect the final product, I rather enjoyed Duvall and Hays' textbook. Up front, I didn't read the entire thing, but I did read a large chunk of it. For Sunday School my class is doing a "how to read and study the bible" study. Through this we are going through the various types of books (poetry, prophecy, epistles, etc.) found in the bible, and this book is a perfect tool for what my class is doing. I read the first few introductory chapters, setting up the book and how to use it.

I like the authors approach to interpreting scripture. Imagine a biblical city, all walled and dusty. There's a river flowing next to the city. On the other side is a modern city, skyscrapers and all. Connecting these two cities is a bridge. The method describes taking the message from the bible (a la the old city) and applying it to life (a la the new city). Doing this requires understanding the culture of the Old, crossing the bridge, and understanding the New. (There's more to it than that, but this is a simplified preview.)

In particular I enjoyed the chapter on epistles. It was very informative of how letters worked back in biblical times, how Paul's letters are much, much longer than an average letter of the times, and how letters were written, going so far as to break down the mechanics and structure. I personally feign interest in most of history, but this stuff was kind of interesting.

Overall, I felt that Duvall and Hays offer a great resource for reading and understanding the bible. They are passionate about correct interpretation, and they stress context very seriously. There are many different methods for reading and interpreting Scripture, and Grasping God's Word offers tools for applying the bible to our own lives. While the book goes through a somewhat repetitive approach, if you're in any way interested in getting a little deeper in the Word, then it is still a book I'd recommend checking out.

*I'm not sure what changes were made from the previous editions.  Product info is available here.

FTC Thingy: Zondervan graciously supplied me with an Advanced Readers Copy of this book. I wasn't even obligated to right a review, but I enjoy this sort of thing, so I did. I also enjoy cookies and milk, or just cookies, too, though I did not receive any of these along with my book. Such is life.


Diz said...

Appreciate the review. After I plow through my Bible classes, I'll give it a whirl.

Alex Hagerman said...

After systematics I'll check this out sometime. Btw ever seen this? I picked it up for $10 to see the thoughts between Oden and Grudem:

logankstewart said...

I hope you both enjoy it. You may be able to get a 2nd or 1st edition used at a cheaper price, but as I said, I'm not sure what's different between the two. (If it's like many of the textbooks I had throughout college, I'd say not much.)