Thursday, September 1, 2011

7 Questions with Rob Plummer: Author of 40 Questions About Interpreting the Bible

Yesterday I reviewed Dr. Plummer’s book.  In the review I noted that “Hermeneutics (biblical interpretation) should be accessible to everyone.”  I also noted that Plummer’s book is both “satisfying and accessible” to student and layperson alike.  If you aren’t convinced yet that you ought to purchase this book, Dr. Plummer’s first answer should convince you. 

1. How is this book different from other books that deal with biblical interpretation?

Each book has a $100 bill hidden inside it.  Readers should be sure to order one right away.  But seriously, the book deals concisely with all the major questions related to interpreting the Bible - canon, text transmission, inerrancy, the goal of interpretation, Christo-centric interpretation, interpreting various genres of Scripture, current trends in hermeneutics, etc.  I discuss each issue in a brief "bite size" chunk of five to ten pages.  Also, reflection questions conclude each chapter.  And, many additional free resources (powerpoint files, quiz questions, etc.) are available at

2. What was the most difficult aspect of writing this book?

Making the text both scholarly and accessible.  I wanted it to be used as a seminary textbook but also understandable to any curious layperson.

3. What is the most frequent mistake that people make in biblical interpretation?

Failing to respect the inspired author's intent.  In his day, Calvin spoke of misinterpreters of Scripture as persons who put a "wax nose" on Scripture and turned it whatever way they wished.  In our day, people continue to do the same.

4. In your opinion what is the most dangerous trend in biblical interpretation?

Within the Theological Interpretation of Scripture (TIS) movement, some interpreters openly embrace meaning which is not flowing from the inspired author's intent. Of course, TIS is quite diverse, so others aligned with this movement are doing good work.

5. Imagine that I am a high school student on a bus with you. I find out that you teach a class on Biblical Interpretation. With only about 3 minutes before I have to get off the bus, I ask “how do I understand the Bible?” How do you respond?

With only three minutes, I think I would want to challenge that high school student to read the Scriptures because it is there that God speaks to us.  I would likely tell the story of how my mom taught me to read through the Bible once a year when I was 13 years old and the huge difference it has made in every area of my life.  I might turn to Psalm 119 and read some portions.  Then, for more practical questions of interpretation, I likely would refer them to my book.

6. I know that bad exegesis is never funny, but pretend for a second that it is. What is the funniest…or should I say…worst experience that you have had with bad exegesis?

Ah . . . there are so many stories.  I once asked a prominent minister what he was going to preach on the next day.  He told me that he had all the jokes and stories worked out, but that he just had to add the other content. I laughed because I thought he was kidding.  But, the next day when I heard him "preach" on the passage, it was mainly a string of random jokes and anecdotes.  A.T. Robertson once said, "I've heard sermons that if the text had had a cold, the sermon would certainly not have caught it."  I can relate.

7. Since I am in your New Testament 1 class I have to ask…who is your favorite student in New Testament 1? Okay, you don’t have to answer that. Serious question—If your opponents weren’t “with the Lord” who would win in a wheel-barrow race on the seminary lawn--A.T. Robertson and E.Y. Mullins or Rob Plummer and Albert Mohler?

I'm definitely betting on the Mohler-Plummer team.  (that is, if Southern Baptist are allowed to bet)

Thanks to Dr. Plummer for agreeing to do this interview. 

In response to question seven: I know that Dr. Plummer is a runner, but Dr. Mohler is not known for his athletic prowess.  Furthermore, E.Y. Mullins had a pretty solid beard and we all know that beards give superpowers.  So, I’m thinking this race may be a close one.  If Southern Baptist’s bet I might take Dr. Plummer up on this one. 

Again be sure to check out Dr. Plummer’s website: 

Also if you do not have it yet you can purchase the book here: 40 Questions About Interpreting the Bible.

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