Inductive Bible Study: A Comprehensive Guide to the Practice of Hermeneutics

By Dunnett, Walter M. | Anglican Theological Review, Spring 2012 | Go to article overview

Inductive Bible Study: A Comprehensive Guide to the Practice of Hermeneutics


Dunnett, Walter M., Anglican Theological Review


Inductive Bible Study: A Comprehensive Guide to the Practice of Hermeneutics. By David R. Bauer and Robert A. Traina. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2011. xvi + 446 pages. $34.99 (cloth).

This volume celebrates the lifelong career of Robert A. Traina, who spent forty years at Biblical Seminary in New York and at Asbury Seminary, and who published the predecessor to this volume in 1952 (Methodical Bible Study). Now it has been thoroughly updated along with the efforts of David R. Bauer, first a student of Traina's, then a colleague of his at Asbury. This apologetic for the inductive method of Bible study defines, illustrates, and offers a step-by-step approach in contrast to deductive methods.

By "inductive method," the authors mean "a comprehensive, holistic study of the Bible that takes into account every aspect of the existence of the biblical text and that is intentional in allowing the Bible in its final canonical shape to speak to us in its own terms, thus leading to accurate, original, compelling, and profound interpretation and contemporary appropriation" (p. 6). There are five main parts to the book. The first, Theoretical Foundations," lays the groundwork for all that will follow.

The second part, "Observing and Asking," is primarily the discipline of readingtetudying books-as-wholes and parts-as-wholes. As the Bible is a collection of books, it will be well to first read a book at a time - a kind of "bird's eye view." This may involve a "skimming" in order to observe the highlights. Depending on what book you select, this may be done in terms of persons, events, chronology, or geography. What kind of material is one reading? What is the basic structure or character of the material? Then turn to units within the book, which are called here the "divisions, the sections, and the segments" (p. 143).

The third part, "Answering or Interpreting," relates to the issue of questions raised in making observations on the text at hand (as above). How does one select which questions to answer? Four principles are suggested: (1) importance; (2) difficulty; (3) interrelatedness; and (4) interest (pp. 179180). What kinds of evidence does one have at hand to apply to questions? The authors suggest fourteen types of evidence, not all of which will pertain to every question!

The fourth part, "Evaluating and Appropriating," follows on the interpretation of the text of Scripture. …

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