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Reading the Bible Wisely

, 2011
ISBN: 9781610972888

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What does it mean to read the Bible wisely? Richard Briggs tackles some familiar questions about how to interpret the Bible with the goal of answering this question. After exploring issues of biblical interpretation in three particular contexts—historical, literary and theological—he considers specific doctrines about the Bible: its clarity, its inspiration and its authority, and asks what it means in practice to read the Bible as an inspired or as an authoritative text. The reader is helped throughout by a thorough examination of particular passages. Written with warmth and a light touch, Reading the Bible Wisely focuses on wisdom and spirituality rather than technique, while recognizing that the gift of eyes to see is a gift that only God can give.

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“‘hermeneutics’ is actually not just interpretation, but it is the evaluation of interpretation too: the whole question of what it means to understand and explain a text, and what criteria there are for evaluating it. But more to the point, the ‘straightforward’ meaning of the biblical text is often a way of saying ‘straightforward to me,’ and it does not appear equally straightforward for everyone.” (Page 15)

“Biblical interpretation is more subtle than that: it is tied up with the long, slow skill of learning to think theologically.” (Page 14)

“One key to wise reading may be historical context:” (Page 4)

“Our reading of scripture deepens as our relationship with Jesus deepens. Our relationship with Jesus becomes more subtle, more profound, as our ability to see him as the fulfillment of all of scripture increases. In this sense, we never arrive at the point where we have finished reading the Bible. Obviously, we can start at the beginning of Genesis and read right through to the end of Revelation, and reach a kind of an end. But every time we come to a familiar passage later in time, we come to it as a different person, changed in who we are, and thus changed in our reading of the passage. This in turn then challenges and changes our relationship with who Jesus is. And so we proceed around and up the ‘spiral.’” (Page 17)

“The hermeneutical bridge holds in this case, if hold it does, because forgiveness is a ‘strong’ speech act. If I am not willing to invest in this text, then it will not change me, and I am back on the other side of the hermeneutical question, wondering how to ‘apply’ these words of Jesus. When the words themselves are performative acts, then speech act theory articulates for us a better way, through a ‘hermeneutic of self-involvement.’” (Page 123)

Richard Briggs has written a succinct and suggestive handbook for disciples on the road to Emmaus who continue to discuss the meaning of 'all these things' in Scripture.

Kevin J. Vanhoozer, Research Professor of Systematic Theology, Trinity International University

  • Title: Reading the Bible Wisely
  • Author: Richard Briggs
  • Publisher: SPCK
  • Publication Date: 2003
  • Pages: 128

Richard S. Briggs is a lecturer in Old Testament and director of biblical studies at Cranmer Hall, St. John’s College, Durham University. He is the author of Words in Action: Speech Act Theory and Biblical Interpretation and Reading the Bible Wisely.


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Digital list price: $16.99
Save $3.00 (17%)