Friday, November 10, 2006

New Text on NT Interpretation

Interpreting the New Testament Text: Introduction to the Art and Science of Exegesis,
ed. Darrell Bock and Buist Fanning
(Crossway Books, 2006), hb., 480 pp.

This is an exciting and interesting new book. The title states it is an introduction to New Testament exegesis, but it also has been compiled in honor of Dr. Harold Hoehner, who has taught at Dallas Seminary for almost 40 years. I know from personal experience that putting together a festschrift that publishers will be happy with is a tricky task. Bock and Fanning have done a fine job with this one, gathering students and friends of Hoehner and producing a new guide to NT interpretation. The book essentially pulls together two common types of books. Part One of the book is a textbook written by the faculty of one school (DTS). Part Two contains the more traditional festschrift element, essays on various portions of the New Testament.

The first section is a step-by-step walk through of the basic elements of NT interpretation. These chapters are written by current Dallas Seminary faculty. The chapters are (I have summarized the actual chapter titles):
Definition and philosophy of exegesis, D. Bock
NT Textual Criticism, Daniel Wallace
Grammatical Analysis, J. William Johnston
Diagramming sentences, clauses; tracing the argument, Jay Smith
Word Studies, D. Bock
Exegetical problem solving, David Lowery
Background studies, Joseph Fantin
Narrative Genre, Michael Burer
Epistolary Genre, John Grassmick
Apocalyptic Genre, Hall Harris, III
Use of OT in NT, D. Bock
Theological Analysis, B. Fanning
Application, Ethics, Preaching, Timothy Ralston
The second section provides typically brief exegetical examples from various places in the New Testament. Here are the passages addressed and the author of each essay.
Mark 1:1-13- Howard Marshall
Mark 1:1-15- Narry Santos
Mark 7:27- Joel Williams
Acts 8:26-40- Edwin Yamauchi
Romans 15:9b-12- Don Howell, Jr.
Galatians 3:10-13- David Catchpole
Ephesians 2:19-22- Scott Cunningham
Ephesians 5:26- Helge Stadelmann
Philippians 2:6-7- Timothy Savage
Colossians 1:12-20- Earle Ellis
James 1:19-27- Donald Verseput
1 Peter 2:2a- Edward Glenny
3 John- Herbert Bateman, IV
In the first section, the chapters vary considerably in length. Furthermore, though I have not yet read all the essays, one can see that the strength of the essays vary as is always the case in such a collection. Some essays seem primarily to rehearse basic information, but others are particularly helpful. One of these particularly helpful ones is Jay Smith’s discussion of tracing the flow of argument in Paul’s letters. His introduction (and defense of logical thinking) is valuable in itself. This essay (one of the longer ones in the book) will provide very practical help to many in this crucial work of tracing the apostle’s flow of thought so that we actually mine his thoughts rather than imposing our own. I have already recommended this essay to one of my classes.

In the second section one can see that the essays group particularly around the gospel of Mark and the prison epistles. This will be of particular interest then when one is working in these areas.

In conclusion, Bock and Fanning are to be congratulated for producing such a helpful resource and fitting tribute to Dr. Hoehner. This is a helpful book for any student or pastor to have.


Farmer Joe said...

A couple questions on this book:

> Does it address the original languages?
> Since this is out of Dallas Seminary, is it neutral when it comes to the Dispensational hermeneutic?

Ray Van Neste said...

It does not have a separate chapter onoriginal languages, but use of the languages is assumed.
On the second question, someone else is borrowing my copy at the moment, but I am assuking that the biblical theology essay (and similar items) will come from a dispensational perspective. This will of course not effect many of the chapters, and the contributors to the second part of teh book are nto all dispensationalists (e.g. Howard Marshall).