Category Archives: Bibliotheca

Gilbreath’s Remembering Birmingham E-book


41QVF28ZCSL._AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-46,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_I just saw the announcement for Ed Gilbreath’s new e-book, Remembering Birmingham: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Letter to America — 50 Years Later (IVP). Rereading King’s Letter always is good, and so is reading the various commentaries by the editors of various editions over the last 50 years.


Related: Jonathan Parnell on John Piper on King’s Letter in Bloodlines.

J I Packer’s Taking God Seriously

4115m7PByOL._SL500_AA300_I just received notice about J. I. Packer’s, Taking God Seriously: Vital Things We Need to Know. I will have to give it priority over the Horton work. Reading Packer’s, Knowing God, 25 years ago was eye opening! I also think his short work, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, should go into the hands of new believers and new church members; (if you have not yet read it, get a copy and you can finish it in a night or two).

Amazon has Taking God Seriously for Kindle and on audio CD.


Best-selling author J. I. Packer, one of the most influential evangelicals of our day, has put together what may become a Christian classic on the vital truths of the faith. Serving to nourish the church worldwide, Packer makes accessible the things we need to know in eight essential areas. This concise book also helps us guard against liberalism by pushing Christians to know their faith so they can explain it to inquirers and sustain it against skeptics. Here is a call to a discipleship in mere Christianity—the business of taking God seriously.


“Like many people, I first discovered what it meant ‘to take God seriously’ through reading J. I. Packer’s books. It is thus an honor and a delight to be asked to write a commendation for his latest work, a basic catechetical plea for sober, modest, thoughtful and orthodox theology. In a church world dominated by Barnum and Bailey circus antics and the brash triviality borrowed from the world around in the name of ‘engagement,’ Dr. Packer remains a truly engaging and gentlemanly advocate for those old paths which are ever fresh.”
—Carl R. Trueman, Paul Woolley Professor of Church History, Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia

Michael Horton’s Pilgrim Theology 51% Off at WTS Bookstore Until 2/13

9780310330646mWhen Michael Horton writes on Theology, it is worth reading and rereading. I am glad to see the availability of his, Pilgrim TheologyI am certain that Horton will make theology something the person in the pew will enjoy. Get a copy now at a great price.

Publisher’s Description

Pilgrim Theology is based–in part–on the much larger The Christian Faith, although it is no simple abridgment; rather, Michael Horton has sought to write for an entirely new and wider audience, intentionally making it more useful for both group and individual study.

Horton reviews the biblical passages that have given rise to particular doctrines in addition to surveying past and present interpretations. Also included are sidebars showing the key distinctions readers need to grasp on a particular subject, helpful charts and tables illuminating exegetical and historical topics, and questions at the end of each chapter for individual, classroom, and small group reflection.

Pilgrim Theology is especially appropriate for undergraduate students, educated laypersons, or anyone looking to gain a basic understanding of Reformed theology’s biblical and historical foundations.

Includes Study and Discussion Guide

512 Pages
Published January 2013



The Christian Faith


Greidanus’ Preaching Christ from Daniel

Daniel07Westminster Bookstore sent me notice today of the arrival of Sidney Greidanus’, Preaching Christ from Daniel: Foundations for Expository Sermons (Eerdmans), on its shelves. Greidanus’s works are known for helping the expositor pay attention to literary structures and genre features within Biblical texts, as well as for giving serious thought to revealing the Gospel from each text. Greidanus works hard at making application(s) from each text.

Recently, several good works have been published to help readers work through Daniel and think about the significance of Daniel’s prophetic narrative to the modern believer. Among these are works by Iain Duguid and Ernest Lucas.

UPDATE (1/26/13): WTS Bookstore fixed the link on the author’s name on their page so that all of Greidanus’ works can be reached through the Daniel work’s page.

Publisher’s Description

In Preaching Christ from Daniel Sidney Greidanus shows preachers and teachers how to prepare expository messages from the six narratives and four visions in the book of Daniel. Using the most up-to-date biblical scholarship, Greidanus addresses foundational issues such as the date of composition, the author(s) and original audience of the book, its overall message and goal, and various ways of preaching Christ from Daniel. Throughout his book Greidanus puts front and center God’s sovereignty, providence, and coming kingdom.

Each chapter contains building blocks for constructing expository sermons and lessons, including useful information on the context, themes, and goals of each literary unit links between Daniel and the New Testament how to formulate the sermon theme and goal contemporary application and much more!

440 Pages
Published January 2013

About the Author

Sidney Greidanus is professor emeritus of preaching at Calvin Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, Michigan. His other books include The Modern Preacher and the Ancient Text, Preaching Christ from the Old Testament, Preaching Christ from Genesis, and Preaching Christ from Ecclesiastes.

The Most Widely Misunderstood and Misrepresented Supreme Court Opinion of All Time

From Justin Taylor’s blog: The Most Widely Misunderstood and Misrepresented Supreme Court Opinion of All Time.

Francis Beckwith, author of the important and learned Defending Life: A Moral and Legal Case Against Abortion Choice (Cambridge University Press, 2007), writes:

It is no exaggeration to say that no U.S. Supreme Court opinion has been more misunderstood and has had its arguments more misrepresented in the public square than Roe v. Wade (1973). There seems to be a widespread perception that Roe was a moderate opinion that does not support abortion on demand, i.e., unrestricted abortion for all nine months for virtually any reason. . . .

In order to fully grasp the reasoning of Roe, its paucity as a piece of constitutional jurisprudence, and the current state of abortion law, this article looks at three different but interrelated topics: (1) what the Court actually concluded in Roe; (2) the Court’s reasoning in Roe; and (3) how subsequent Court opinions, including Casey v. Planned Parenthood, have shaped the jurisprudence of abortion law.

You can read online the whole analysis: “The Supreme Court, Roe v. Wade, and Abortion Law.”

For shorter summaries of the serious flaws in the legal reasoning, see Beckwith’s blog posts on (1) The Court’s Failure to Address the Question of the Unborn’s Moral Status, and (2)The Court’s Two Unwarranted Stipulations.

A 2012 Book of the Year: Carl Trueman’s The Creedal Imperative

9781433521904“Modern culture has not really rendered creeds and confessions untrue; far less has it rendered them unbiblical. But it has rendered them implausible and distasteful. They are implausible because they are built on old-fashioned notions of truth and language. They make the claim that a linguistic formulation of a state of affairs can have a binding authority beyond the mere text on the page, that creeds actually refer to something, and that that something has a significance for all of humanity. They thus demand that individuals submit, intellectually and morally, to something out- side of themselves, that they listen to the voices from the church from other times and other places. They go directly against the grain of an antihistorical, antiauthoritarian age. Creeds strike hard at the cherished notion of human autonomy and of the notion that I am exceptional, that the normal rules do not apply to me in the way they do to others.

They are distasteful for the same reason: because they make old-fashioned truth claims; and to claim that one position is true is automatically to claim that its opposite is false. God cannot exist and not exist at the same time; he cannot be three persons and one person at the same time, at least not without unhelpful and hopeless equivocation (despite the claims of some Reformed theologians to the contrary). Truth claims thus imply a hierarchy whereby one position is better than another and where some beliefs, and thus those who hold those beliefs, are excluded. That may not be a very tasteful option in today’s society but, as noted above, even the modern pluralist West still excludes those that it considers, if not wrong, then at least distasteful and unpleasant.

We are naïve as Christians if we think that our thinking is not shaped by the cultural currents that surround us. Of course, we cannot abstract ourselves from our context; we cannot cease to be embodied individuals, each with our own personal biographies, who live within a complex network of social relations that influence the way we live and think and speak. Yet to know something of our context is to make ourselves aware of some of the invisible forces that have such an unconscious influence on us. Once we know they are there, we at least have the possibility of engaging in critical reflection, which will allow us to some extent to liberate ourselves from them—or, if not to liberate ourselves, at least to make us more aware of why we think the way we do.” (Carl R. Trueman, The Creedal Imperative, 48-49.)

Among the various Christian “2012 Books of the Year” lists, I think Carl Trueman’s, The Creedal Imperative, should have had greater prominence. Many are familiar with Trueman’s exhortation to see the historic creeds and confessions as a means of preventing us from reinventing the faith in very successive generation of the church. Instead of reinventing, we can contend for the faith once delivered to the saints, and prevent ourselves from creating and embracing false teachings and heresies as we pass the truth to the three and four generations below us.

Some familiar with Trueman’s writing style might be turned off by the cultured wit and sagacious drollness of his previous works. Certainly Trueman’s tongue is carved in the mold of his Wittenberg hero; unquestionably he has the mind of his Puritan champion. Yet the sophisticated from-across-the-pond-humor is toned down in this work. Trueman writes with great accessibility for the average reading believer humbly seeking the truth in a walk with the Lord.

I would encourage the many in pulpits and pews to ponder deeply Truman’s arguments for a recovery of the creeds in the use of church (and family) life. Having used the Westminster Shorter Catechism with my own children, and the Heidleberg with my Baptist (!) congregation and my family, I certainly understand the case for the creeds. My children have a bedrock of theology from which they can judge all other claims of truth. Our discussions of theology have been rich, from prior to their teen years throughout their young adult years. I hope this will mean each of the churches of their adult attendance will have a family in membership that understands the truth of the Gospel. With Trueman’s work, in the Lord’s grace, might many churches experience this joy as the norm among their memberships.


Trueman, “T-t-t-talkin’ Bout My Generation (But Thinking About the One After Next),” reformation 21

Trueman, “A Good Creed Seldom Goes Unpunished,” reformation 21

Dorothy Sayers, Creed or Chaos: Why Christians Must Choose Either Dogma or Disaster (Or, Why It Really Does Matter What You Believe).

J. I. Packer and Gary A. Parrett, Grounded in the Gospel: Building Believers the Old-Fashioned Way.



Christian Hedonism in The Idiot (Published 1869)

images“Exactly as is a mother’s joy when her baby smiles for the first time into her eyes, so is God’s joy when one of His children turns and prays to Him for the first time, with all his heart!’ This is what that poor woman said to me, almost word for word; and such a deep, refined, truly religious thought it was—a thought in which the whole essence of Christianity was expressed in one flash—that is, the recognition of God as our Father, and of God’s joy in men as His own children, which is the chief idea of Christ.”

Prince Lev Nikolayevich Myshkin (aka, “The Idiot”), the protagonist in Fyodor Dostoevsky’s, The Idiot, (quote is from the Kindle version).

I just finished reading this work for the first time. Dostoevsky’s portrayal of the Gospel – through a character who sees all people for who they are, loves them regardless of their faults (covering all Ten of the Commandments), takes all faults of others upon himself, is labeled an “idiot” even though he clearly is not, and then is found innocent of all wrongdoing except loving too much – is incredible. It was well worth the time invested in reading it. Thank you Timanda Wertz and Jon Beall for pointing me toward this book, and Timanda for enticing me to read the book with this quote from another version of the text. The quote is found on page 213 of my Bantam Classic edition (1983).


The Gospel in Dostoevsky

The Burden of Vision: Dostoevsky’s Spiritual Art; (original edition)


Poythress’ Work on Harmonization of the Gospels at WTS 50% Off

9781433528606mVern Poythress’ Inerrancy and the Gospels looks good. WTS Bookstore has a pdf sample at their site. Currently they have the book on sale at 50% off at $9.00. I will add it to my 2013 reading pile.

Publisher’s Description:

Serious Bible readers all recognize that there are differences between accounts of the same events in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and no responsible reader can simply sweep these differences under the rug. But can all of the accounts still be reconciled with a belief in biblical inerrancy?

Responding to the questions surrounding the gospel narratives, New Testament scholar Vern Poythress contributes a worthy case for inerrancy in the gospels and helps readers understand basic principles for harmonization. He also tackles some of the most complicated exegetical problems, showing the way forward on passages that have perplexed many, such as the centurion’s servant, the cursing of the fig tree, and more.

All those interested in the authority of Scripture will find in this volume great encouragement and insight as Poythress has provided an arresting case to stem the tide of skepticism.


Inerrancy and Worldview


Authors, Texts, and Meanings: Hermeneutics Interview with Elliott E. Johnson, Part 2

Dr. Elliott E. Johnson is Senior Professor of Bible Exposition at Dallas Theological Seminary.  He has given a career of study to biblical and philosophical hermeneutics and Bible Exposition.  He has been a member of his church since the mid-1960’s, and there he has given himself to more than 40 years of discipling men, and training teachers to understand the Scriptures and teach it to others.  Over two decades ago he authored Expository Hermeneutics: An Introduction (Zondervan), in order to explain the workings of the art and science of interpretation.  He graciously has agreed to an interview related to current discussion in hermeneutics.  (I am posting the interview intermittently rather than in its entirety immediately. You can read Part 1 here. Part 3 of the interview will ask, “In what sense is the Old Testament ‘messianic?’”)


3.  You still seem to make great use of the theory, method, and distinctions made by E. D. Hirsch in his seminal work, Validity in Interpretation – a text that is 45 years old.  However, evangelical theories of interpretation seemed to have expanded upon or altogether abandoned Hirsch’s ideas.  Do you think Hirsch’s ideas are as important today as they were in 1967?

The proposal of E. D. Hirsch remains an essential source for two reasons:

First, his consideration of interpretation has been molded by the goal of validation.  Validation seeks to weigh the merit of a given interpretation in distinction from other disparate interpretations.  Disparity involves more than merely difference in interpretations, but two interpretations that are mutually incompatible.  But both cannot be true at the same time.  This theory of validation is predicated on a view of how language communicates meaning.

This approach to a hermeneutical goal is compatible with the literal tradition.  This goal is thus shared with the Reformation and its proposal to interpretation of the Bible.  A literal handling of the text is probably correct as distinct from an allegorical interpretation.  Literal follows the norms of historical and grammatical interpretation.

Hirsch’s approach shares this goal, but pursues the task in a more comprehensive fashion.  It is also compatible with the approach of Anthony Scalia in his OriginalistTextualist interpretation of the Constitution of the United States of America.

The second reason Hirsch is a necessary source is his view on how language communicates meaning.  His view is theory driven and has probably influenced the evangelical world least.  Few are willing to consider the philosophical reasoning.

At the outset, let’s consider Hirsch’s contentions:  “Verbal meaning is a willed type” (Validity, 51).  In his explanation, “the determining and sharability of verbal meaning resides in its being a type.  The particular type that it is resides in the author’s determining will.”

To follow Hirsch’s contention concerning language and verbal meaning, one must understand the philosophical theory of type/token distinction in viewing reality.  That theory sees language and reality in “the contrast between category and a member of that category.  An individual or token is said to exemplify a type:  it possesses the property that characterizes that type.  In philosophy, this distinction is often in linguistic expressions . . .(language) but it can be applied also to objects, properties, and states of affairs (reality).”  This view of linguistic expressions in relation to reality matches the biblical account in which God spoke and creation came into existence.

A Theory of Meaning – What is verbal meaning?

Hirsch offered an answer with a fresh perspective.  “Verbal meaning is a willed type.”  It is willed because an author intended to communicate a message by what he says.  This message is a type-meaning because his view of language usage is conceived in a type/token pattern.  The written text formed from what the author has in mind, takes the shape of the token with all the particular meanings.  At the same time, the author has in mind the message he wants to communicate.  That is the type of meaning.  That awareness of the type of meaning, either consciously or intuitively, guides the writing of the token expressing the sequence of meanings in the text.

As an example, I want to talk to you about an apple tree in my yard, which has produced large, juicy delicious apples for as long as I can remember.  The message talks about “my tree.”  That’s the subject of the type-meaning.  It is shared with other language speakers and determines what I want to talk about.  The type of message may be “my tree is special.”  What makes that tree special is the type of what I want to say about the tree.  That is the complement of the message which is also shared by the language written in the text and is determined by what in particular I write in the text.  The type of message is the identity of what the author wants to communicate.

This model introduced by Hirsch of a type/token pattern of meaning which an author entertains as he communicates, has appeared in other considerations of verbal meaning.

G. B. Caird speaks of the cognitive use of language and identifies three roles of language that correspond to type of meaning.

First, a language type involves a classification of what an author means, that can be arranged in a taxonomy of related meanings.  This taxonomy involves a comparison of language meanings both in level of generality and in relation of common types of meaning at the same level.  So an apple tree is a type of tree or a tree is a type of plant life.  At the same time, tree can be compared to and distinguished from a bush, a vegetable or a flower.  All these are tokens of a type of plant life and express the types of the same level of meaning.

While the classification and comparison can occur with words in reference to subject matter, texts can be classified and compared as literary genre.  While the taxonomy is not precise, yet the cognitive use of language in textual types is still helpful in interpretation.  Literary genre involves different types of compositions, identified by the convention used to communicate (as narrative-history, epistles, or hymns, etc.) while all genre do not include the same cognitive usage, they all include some cognitive usage.

Second, a type-message also involves a generalization.  This sense of type-meaning as message, functions as a working hypothesis by which the interpreter seeks to make sense of every meaning in the token.  The written text as a token is an instance and example of the type of meaning communicated in a message.  The message is inferred from the reading of the text in answer to two questions:

What is the author talking about?  (The subject of the text.)

What does he say about the subject?  (The complement of the text.)

These questions are answered from the reading of the text in the context of the historical occasion and the historical audience to whom the message is addressed.

I want to complete the illustration of the central point Hirsch made before we proceed.  I want you to know about my special tree.  The tree is a real token-reference in my yard.  Examining that tree for yourself is not to get to know my verbal meaning.  That examination is certainly one way to get to know about the tree, but it is not to get to know my verbal meaning about my tree.  That involves reading my token-text which communicates that my tree is special, which is a type-meaning.  That meaning is shared because we both use the language skills we have developed.  That shared meaning is determined by the language used – a tree is a living plant with an elongated single stem.  That type meaning tree is not all that I have in mind, but still it is what I have in mind as I speak.

Of course, I can say more about what makes my tree special – a description of the size and taste of the apples, a report of my memories from past years, or reflect upon the beauty of the foliage, etc.  This is what makes my tree special.  The statements are still communicating at the type level rather than somehow giving access to all that I have in mind.  Now what you know comes closer to what I have in mind, but language can never give expression to all the meanings I have in mind.  Language is an essential, but limited vehicle of communication.

“An expression is a linguistic type and can be used over and over (many manuscripts can be classified as essays), whereas token of a type can be produced once (one manuscript), though it may be reproduced (copied.”  (The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy, 818, 819)

Thus, this type/token view of reality can be applied both to the use of language (as Hirsch does) and to the world of reality about which language speaks.

In a philosophy of language, three questions about communication must be considered.  Since the answers vary, each answer is based on a theory.

Thus, there are three levels of meaning to be considered in interpretation of a literary unit:

  • The willed type of meaning
  • The literary type meaning
  • The text using words/grammar

All three levels of meanings are studied in hermeneutics, but when identifying the verbal meaning of a text, it is the level of the author’s willed type meaning.  The shape of the author’s meaning is the message he willed to communicate.  It is both specific in terms of words developing the text, yet the meaning is exemplary of a willed-type meaning.

The second level of meaning is the literary-type meaning.  In the Bible, this concerns revelation authored by God, literary genre, and historical occasion authored by the human writers.  The interpreter reads the text at the third level of the words, but as he reads, he is asking himself what broader categories does the writer and God intend to frame the message.

A theory of reference – To what and to whom does the text refer? 

Informative and cognitive types of language intend to refer directly to the world about which it speaks or thinks.  Performative types of statements speak about an author or an audience also in a direct fashion.  In either case, the statements refer directly to the author or refer to an audience addressed.  Further, performative type of statements refer to the performance intended.

A theory of truth – Is this text true?

We will adhere to a correspondence theory of truth.  Within that theory, an informative or a cognitive message is true when the author’s intent as expressed in the text to inform or to reason corresponds to reality.  The level of correspondence is not an issue when considering truthfulness since only God has a complete knowledge of reality to which the text has reference.

On the other hand, a performative intent is true, if the author who spoke performs the action to which he committed himself in the text.  This is a promise which is true when the author keeps his word.  In the Bible, these promises ultimately refer to God and keeping his Word may take generations before they are finally realized.

The other type of performative statement is law.  Laws are not true in the sense that they correspond to reality and false when they do not.  Rather God’s laws correspond to what is righteous, just, and good (Rom. 7:13).  When mankind’s response under the claim of the law fails to correspond to what the law demands, mankind is truly exposed to be a sinner.  They rebel against what is righteous, just, and good.

So how does language communicate meaning?  It doesn’t communicate the meaning somehow existing in the world of reality to which it refers.  If the author were to say, “This is a comfortable chair,” the reader would not need to have sat in the chair or even seen the chair to know what he meant.  Nor would the reader need to have in mind all that the author had in mind.

Rather, the meaning is shared at the willed-type level of the language.  “This” means that the author has a particular chair in mind.  It may be one chair in distinction to others, but unless the author says more, it can’t be known whether “this” is used in a comparative fashion.

“Is” is a word of identification, which has reference to a particular chair.

“Comfortable” describes an experience found when someone sits down.  The particular way that it is comfortable is not known from the language.  But the reader shares an understanding at a type level, knowing the vocabulary and having had experiences of comfort when being seated.

“Chair” is also know at a type level in distinction to other pieces of furniture.  As a type, it is distinct from a table, a bench, a stool, or a sofa, etc.  And thus what is shared is determinate at that level of type.  It is not a table, etc.

Thus the language is used by an author to communicate his willed type meaning.

Third, Hirsch’s model of interpretation is necessary because it is compatible with other theories of verbal meaning.  The study of literary genre recognizes the meaning at a type level known by conventions of composition.  In addition, speech-act theory speaks of different ways or types of language usage.  One of the conventions of literary genre is language usage.

Thus Hirsch’s theory of communication and interpretation is necessary because it naturally incorporates valuable theories.  Hirsch’s theory thus provides a comprehensive theory by which other theories can be included or disregarded.

Fourth, perhaps the most helpful role of Hirsch’s theory for biblical interpreters is that can naturally incorporate both divine and human authorship.  To disregard the divine author, the meaning understood as communicated can be distorted.  This seems to be the case in radical critical studies.

Nicolas Wolterstorff (Divine Discourse: Philosophical Reflection on the Claim that God Speaks) demonstrates that a type/token medium of language suits a dual authorship.  However, his view of dual authorship is different that B. B. Warfield’s view of inspiration and revelation.  We will adopt Warfield’s view featuring the miracle of inspiration which results in a text that has both divine and human authorship.

Wolterstorff posits the thesis that God speaks by adopting a human composition and sharing the meaning expressed by the human author.  On the other hand, adopting the Warfield model of inspiration, the divine and human authorship share the meaning of the text at the type level of meaning.  This could explain a shared authorship of the text.

Then, the divine author has in mind and fully intends all the particular meanings of the textual sense and in reference to the world of reality.  On the other hand, the human author has in mind enough to compose the text, but may not have in mind all that God intends.  The meaning of the text is recognized at the type level and may by exegesis share the meaning at the token level.  The progress of revelation may provide a basis for the exegesis of God’s fully intended meaning (Gal. 3:16).



Authors, Texts, and Meanings: Hermeneutics Interview with Elliott E. Johnson, Part 1

Dr. Elliott E. Johnson is Senior Professor of Bible Exposition at Dallas Theological Seminary.  He has given a career of study to biblical and philosophical hermeneutics and Bible Exposition.  He has been a member of his church since the mid-1960’s, and there he has given himself to more than 40 years of discipling men, and training teachers to understand the Scriptures and teach it to others.  Over two decades ago he authored Expository Hermeneutics: An Introduction (Zondervan), in order to explain the workings of the art and science of interpretation.  He graciously has agreed to an interview related to current discussion in hermeneutics.  (I will post the interview intermittently rather than in its entirety immediately.)

1. Dr. Johnson, thank you for taking time for this interview.  Explain where your love for hermeneutics and Bible exposition began.

I graduated from a program in engineering at Northwestern University with a sense of a call to ministry, but very little exposure to the Scripture.  In addition, I had grown up in a church denomination that was emotion driven, and in the years since its revivalistic beginnings, it had been in decline in spiritual fervor.  Was there any normative authority to maintain stability?  And this was combined with my own personal spiritual struggles.  Was there no one or nothing to help me?

At that point I began attending another church which impressed me with two characteristics:  living Biblical sermons and men and women who gave evidence in their lives of the presence of the Holy Spirit.  I began to grow as a Christian as I completed the program in engineering.  As I read the Bible on my own, more and more fresh ideas struck me in a small group Bible study.  Nonetheless, I had so many questions that weren’t yet answered.  As I arrived at graduation I came to two conclusions:

  • I was called to some form of ministry, and
  • I needed to learn the Bible

The next really big step came in the realization that I needed the combination of personal Bible study as well as study at the hands of others in classes or in commentaries.  The personal side of the study really exploded.  I suppose part of the influence came from the technical education.  Ideas like:

  • It is more important to know how to find an answer than to have all the answers
  • In order to grasp the meaning of a part of the design, that part must be seen as a component of the whole

These ideas and others directed my interest toward hermeneutics and exposition of biblical texts.  Hermeneutics considers the strategies for reaching valid conclusions about textual meanings.  While this study considers any text (general hermeneutics), more commonly the study is limited to biblical texts (sacred hermeneutics).  Yet it remains to ask, “And how does sacred hermeneutics differ from general hermeneutics?”

Exposition is the unfolding of the meanings of biblical texts, but the task is more completely accomplished when the component texts are recognized as parts of a whole text.  The metaphor of “unfolding” presents the image of a whole, a closed envelope that is opened portion by portion.  Then the whole is recognized as a combination of all the parts that have been unfolded.  At the outset, the whole was seen as a compact folded up whole.  Exposition is the unfolding.

These considerations grasped my imagination in the years that followed.  It has been an adventure that guided the development of my personal growth in Christ, as well as development of a ministry of Bible teaching.  If this is your calling, let’s talk about aspects of the journey along the road to becoming a bible expositor.

2. What do you mean by “meaning” and “exegesis” in the task of hermeneutics?

Two important terms need to be defined:  “meaning” and “exegesis.”

Meaning is the stuff hermeneutics is working with.  It is an abstract term and thus hard to get your mind around.  So here goes:  Meaning is what a person is conscious of or is in search of.  The Webster’s Third New International Dictionary defines the verb, to mean, and the noun, meaning.

The verb, mean, is to have in mind, as a purpose, intention;

Or, mean is to intend to convey, show, or indicate.

In both definitions, we use language.  Commonly language is used to think or to communicate.  Thus, hermeneutics limits the considerations to verbal meaning.

The noun, meaning, is related to the three basic components in verbal communication:  Author, Text, Interpretation.

The author defines verbal meaning; it is the thing one intends to convey by language.

The text determines and shares what is meant; it is the thing that is conveyed or signified by language—the purport.

The interpretation decodes the language to recognize what is meant; it is the sense in which something is understood.

So verbal meaning is what the author intended to communicate as he composed the text.

Exegesis is like exposition, but with a narrower focus.  Both terms refer to tasks of interpretation of a verbal text, and both terms refer to tasks of unfolding meanings which the author intended to communicate as he expressed it in the text.  The focus needs to be both in the particulars in the text and on the larger segments of literary composition as well as the text as a whole.  Exposition focuses on these larger segments while exegesis unfolds the component meanings of individual texts.  Such careful readings of texts are essential in biblical interpretation where individual statements of revelation are often critical to the message communicated.