Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Review of Let the Reader Understand by McCartney and Clayton

Author: Dan McCartney and Charles Clayton

Pages: 378pgs

Publisher: P & R Publishing

Price: 11.55

Genre: Biblical Interpretation/Hermeneutics

Quick Summary:

This book looks like it may be written as an introduction to hermeneutics, but I am not certain that it actually is written as such. The first chunk of the book is dedicated to the foundation of hermeneutics: presuppositions. Then the history of interpretation and the grammatical historical method is explored. Finally on page 180 the actual practice of interpreting the Bible is explained.

This is the second edition and it has been updated to “address postmodern approaches”.

What I Liked:

This book is a somewhat difficult read, especially for an introduction. However, it is also a very helpful read. I would not suggest it for those new to hermeneutics but it’s a pretty solid resource for those already familiar with the discipline. The section on presuppositions is worth the price of the book. This book was required reading for my Hermeneutics course in seminary and it was one of the more enjoyable books that I read for that class—but it is a pretty difficult read.

God really used this book to open up my eyes to the importance of reading each Scripture in light of its literary genre. It also helped me to understand certain presuppositions that I take into reading a text and how to not allow those to dictate the meaning of the text. This was a really helpful resource for me.

What I Disliked:

It’s plugged on the back as a “readable introduction to biblical interpretation”. It is readable but I’m not so sure it is easily understandable. There are some pretty serious technical discussions as well as sections that require heavy thinking. I’m just not sure this is really a good introductory book.

Should You Buy It?

If you have to look up the term “hermeneutics” then probably not; at least not now. If you are familiar with that term and certain nuances of language, and you are familiar with some of the technical aspects to hermeneutics then this book is definitely for you. It really is a solid resource for the serious student of biblical interpretation. I really want to encourage everyone to eventually read this book, but maybe not to start here. If you are new to the discussion of Hermeneutics then perhaps start with Goldworthy’s According to Plan, Fee's New Testament Exegesis , or even Virkler's Hermeneutics . Get yourself familiar with the topic and then tackle this book—it will be well worth the effort.  Buy it for 11.55.

Rating: 3.2 out of 5 stars

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