UK Christian Bookshops Directory: Christian Book Reviews: Basic Bible Interpretation
Basic Bible Interpretation Basic Bible Interpretation
A Practical Guide to Discovering Biblical Truth

Roy B Zuck
ISBN 0781438772 (9780781438773)
Victor (Cook Communications), 1991 (Reprinted 2004)

Category: Biblical Studies


It should be said from the start that this is a reissue of a book first published in 1991; if you already have a volume by Roy B. Zuck called 'Basic Bible Interpretation', then this is it — exactly the same, with no new preface, no new introductory or concluding chapter, and no updated bibliography.

Whilst not an advocate of the 'new is better' policy, that this book is now almost fifteen years old does count against it somewhat. So, first must come the complaints. Arguably, even back in 1991, the book was already dated. There is no discussion of the diverse currents of biblical interpretation which focus attention on the reader of the text, and all the implications bound up with that, an area which has increased exponentially since then. There is next to nothing on ancillary fields related to biblical interpretation, such as philosophy, theology, and Christian tradition, which were prominent back then and are more prominent today. Reading the Bible is presented as the task of bridging certain gaps — cultural, grammatical, literary, etc. — between the text and ourselves, using appropriate tools, a task which is seen as involved but largely unproblematic.

Even bearing these concerns in mind, however, the book remains a very useful way in to 'basic Bible interpretation' which, after all, is what is specified in its title. Those who would like a fairly uncluttered 'how to' introduction to reading and appropriating the Bible, which doesn't feel obliged to genuflect to the current postmodern intellectual climate, will find here a helpful guide.

The first three chapters introduce the 'what and why of biblical interpretation', offer a historical overview of how the Bible has been interpreted, and discuss the issue of how we decide whether an interpretation is valid. Then follow three chapters on those 'gaps' mentioned earlier: getting to grips with reading Scripture in its own cultural context before applying it to our own; understanding the words, grammar, and syntax of the original languages; taking account of the different literary types in the Bible. The remaining six chapters deal with how to handle figures of speech, types and symbols, parables, prophecy, the use of the Old Testament in the New Testament, and applying the Bible to today.

Given Zuck's long-standing association with Dallas Theological Seminary, it should come as no surprise that the book is written from an avowedly conservative evangelical perspective, with a commitment to a high view of Scripture. The 'Dallas' background is also reflected in particular views taken on (for instance) the fulfilment of prophecy and the nature of Christ's thousand-year reign (the millennium) described in Revelation 20. Whether all this is a plus or a minus will depend on readers' own backgrounds, dispositions, and needs. On the positive side, it does mean that the book is a relatively 'safe' guide to interpreting the Bible, and the sheer amount of concrete worked examples from Scripture give the volume a down-to-earth and applied feel which the more abstruse discussions of biblical interpretation often lack. Despite some initial misgivings, then, a recommended read overall.

Antony Billington, January 2005

Antony Billington teaches Hermeneutics (that's Biblical Interpretation to you & me) at London School of Theology. He's a frequent contributor to the School's monthly webzine, Eis, is heavily into film and contemporary culture and spends most of his wages in the LST Bookshop (enter at your own risk).

Published in the UK by Kingsway Communications

Victor (Cook Communications) | Order from | Order from St Andrew's Bookshops

Authors | Categories | Publishers | Reviewers | Titles

Reviews Index | EU Bookshops | UK Bookshops

Top of Page
Bookshop Registration | | Feedback | Links | News | Sponsors & Partners | Tell a Friend | Who, What & Why?

Made on a Mac   UKCBD Logo   Christian Cafes   Secondhand Christian Books
A Groomsville Website

Site Design & Maintenance by Phil Groom © 2001 - 2007 Phil Groom
discussion powered by Disqus