Here are a few resources to consider in studying how to read and understand the Bible.
How to Read the Bible for All It’s Worth By Gordon Fee
This is a must read book for any student of scripture. Fee unpacks everything from genre to the differences in translation so you can choose one that is closest to what you need. Before you read any of the others, start here. The majority of this book is spent working through the various genres of scripture from Hebrew poetry to epistles, Acts, etc. This will give you a working knowledge to move beyond reading scripture as “flat” and begin appreciating the nuances of the different forms of scripture.
How to Read the Bible in Changing Times by Strauss
This book covers much of the same ground that How to Read the Bible By Fee covers except Strauss spends less time on genre and more time on how to read the Bible aware of your own filters and presuppositions. This book is big on helping you learn how to ask the right questions of the text. If Strauss’ name sounds familiar he actually co-wrote “How to Choose a Translation for All Its Worth” with Fee.
Misreading Scripture With Western Eyes By Richards and O’Brien
Jumping off the last point made about being aware of our presuppositions…this is probably the best book out there for helping you grapple with the filters and assumptions you bring to the text based on your culture. The only hangup on this book is that they tend to replace one set of filters with another (some of their own based on missionary context in Malaysia), nonetheless, a very helpful book in understanding how we shape the text based on what we bring to the text when we read it.
Out of Context: How to Avoid Misinterpreting the Bible By Schultz
This is another book every student of scripture should read. Schultz highlights the various ways people have taken scripture out of context, “no holds barred.” He names names and gives examples, which is helpful because it reminds us that even the best Bible students, preachers and teachers out there can take Scripture out of context. What is great about this book is that he isn’t grinding any axes…instead, he is very kind and educational in his approach. In addition to taking things out of context he also deals with the problems and challenges of doing word studies and errors in application.
The Living Word of God: Rethinking the Theology of the Bible & Reading and Understanding the Bible By Ben Witherington
Witherington hits on the most important topics when it comes to the Bible itself in “The Living Word” (canon, post-modernism, picking a translation, and even throws in a chapter critiquing Peter Enns’ book especially on his take on myth, the unity/diversity of the text and problems with how Enns sees the NT writers using the OT). In the second book, “Reading and Understanding the Bible” you get more of a book on hermeneutics (historical backgrounds, context, genre, etc).
Exegetical Fallacies by D. A. Carson
This is a more academic version of “Out of Context” covering many of the same errors in a more scholarly and concise manner (an unusual combination).
Scripture and the Authority of God By N.T. Wright
Wright deals with the development of how people have read and understood Scripture from the early Christians, through the Enlightenment, to today. He notes the challenges that we face to good interpretation and concludes with a few case studies to illustrate his points.
Introduction to Biblical Interpretation By Klein, Blomberg & Hubbard
This is an excellent volume that should be on every student of the Bible’s shelf. They cover general hermeneutics, canon, ancient methods of interpreting scripture, qualities needed to be a good interpreter of the text, very in depth studies on the various genres of scripture and last the results of interpretation in the life of the Christian and in the worship, doctrine and practice of the church.
The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How you Read the Bible By Scot McKnight
McKnight takes a more narrative approach that will speak into the post-modern issues with reading scripture well…that we are living as a part of the larger story of scripture. As part of applying the principles he is teaching he spends quite a bit of time on how reading the Bible well will impact our view on women in the church (sort of a set of case-study examples).
Eat This Book by Eugene Peterson
No list of books on how to read the Bible would be complete without mentioning “Eat This Book.” Peterson, who is already well known for his translation of the Bible, “The Message,” lets us in on some insights he has gained in a life-long study of the text. To be perfectly honest, I have not yet finished this book so I am a little less informed on what to tell you about it than the others in the list. From what I have read on it, it is a marvelous combination of his typical pastoral work…where he is able to walk alongside you page-by-page with all the richness of his language to illuminate the way through the Biblical text.
What would you add to the list?