Part two on FAQs of a Theologian: Answering “What are some good books (and why) that can help me get started in biblical hermeneutics?”
This post focuses on the books part of the question.
From Dr. Chris Spinks
After all of this let me list a few good books that deal with hermeneutics. These are books that consider these topics as they relate to a reading of the sacred texts of Christianity, the Bible, and so in this broad way they are about biblical and/or theological hermeneutics. In fact, some of them have those very titles.
I have begun a bibliography of helpful resources. That list is heavier on the exegesis and interpretation part because it was started about the time I was working on my syllabus for an exegetical method class, which does not include a lot of discussion about the “why” questions. For a list of good books that deal with the “how” (interpretation) and “what” (exegesis) discussions see that bibliography. Books on hermeneutics are by nature more philosophical and abstract than those on interpretation and exegesis. A good place to start to get into this heady discussion is with shorter articles in good biblical and/or theological dictionaries. See especially something like The Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible . For a readable and short history and discussion of the larger hermeneutical issues see:
- Jasper, David. A Short Introduction to Hermeneutics. Louisville: WJKP, 2004.
Anthony Thiselton is no doubt the preeminent Christian hermeneut. He is not always easy to read but he is good.
- Thiselton, Anthony C. The Two Horizons: New Testament Hermeneutics and Philosophical Description. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1980.
- ________. New Horizons in Hermeneutics: The Theory and Practice of Transforming Biblical Reading. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1997.
- ________. Thiselton on Hermeneutics: Collected Works with New Essays. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2006.
- Vanhoozer, Kevin J. Is There Meaning in This Text? Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1998.
- ________. First Theology: God, Scriptures & Hermeneutics. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2002.
And, two by Francis Watson:
- Watson, Francis. Text and Truth: Redefining Biblical Theology. Eerdmans, 1997.
- ________. Text, Church And World. T&T Clark, 2004.
There are lots of books with some form of “Hermeneutics” in the title. Many of them, I think, are more about the questions I place in the discussion of interpretation and exegesis than they are about the “why” question of hermeneutics. So take care to determine what it is the books are actually discussing. In the end to “get started in biblical hermeneutics” is really entering into an ongoing conversation about reading sacred texts. A few more recommendations for learning about that conversation:
- Adam, A.K.M, Stephen Fowl, Kevin Vanhoozer and Francis Watson. Reading Scripture with the Church: Toward a Hermeneutic for Theological Interpretation. Baker, 2006.
- Goldingay, John. Models for Interpretation of Scripture. Eerdmans/Paternoster, 1995.
- Jeanrond, Werner. Theological Hermeneutics. SCM Press, 1994.