Bibliography of Biblical Interpretation

About this bibliography: the books and articles I have listed here differ greatly in their approaches to the subject of biblical interpretation. Students should be aware of the fact that many things connected with interpretation depend upon theological presuppositions, and so it usually happens that a work on interpretation is more or less biased theologically — or, more often these days, biased against all theology. There is no such thing as theologically neutral interpretation, either in practice or in theory. Nevertheless, as Ernest Kevan has said, "the difference between the presuppositions of conservative theology and the presuppositions of the other groups is that those of the former are provided by the Scripture itself, whereas those of the other groups are not."

See also the related bibliography of Translation Theory and Methods.

0swald T. Allis, Prophecy and the Church. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1969. "The primary aim [of the book] has been to show that Dispensationalism has its source in a faulty and unscriptural literalism which, in the important field of prophecy, ignores the typical and preparatory character of the Old Testament dispensation."

Joseph Angus, The Bible Hand-Book. An Introduction to the Study of Sacred Scripture. London, 1853. A conservative introduction containing much advice on interpretation, by an English Baptist.

Gleason L. Archer and G. C. Chirichigno, Old Testament Quotations in the New Testament: A Complete Survey. Chicago: Moody Press, 1983. An excellent resource for detailed study of how the New Testament writers cited and interpreted the Old Testament.

Augustine, Teaching Christianity [De Doctrina Christiana]. Translated by Edmund Hill, in The Works of Saint Augustine: A Translation for the 21st Century. Part I, Vol. 11, edited by John E, Rotelle. Hyde Park, New York: New City Press, 1996.

Glenn W. Barker, William L. Lane, and J. Ramsey Michaels, The New Testament Speaks. New York: Harper & Row, 1969. A good college-level introduction to the New Testament written by conservative scholars. The authors focus on providing students with an adequate framework for the understanding of the New Testament books in their historical context.

James Barr, The Semantics of Biblical Language. London: Oxford University Press, 1961. Barr critiques unsound linguistic principles of the neo-orthodox "Biblical theology" school, which during the 1950's tried to reinterpret many biblical words according to the supposed characteristics of "Semitic thinking."

Louis Berkhof, Principles of Biblical Interpretation. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1950. A reliable and sober introduction, from a conservative Reformed perspective.

Henri Blocher, "The Analogy of Faith in the Study of Scripture," in The Challenge of Evangelical Theology (Edinburgh: Rutherford House, 1987). Commends the "presupposition of Scriptural coherence," according to which any given passage must be understood in the light of the whole of Scripture.

Gerald Bray, Biblical Interpretation Past and Present. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1996. 608 pages. A detailed survey of the history of biblical interpretation, with some criticism, from an evangelical perspective.

Gerald L. Bruns, Hermeneutics Ancient and Modern. Yale Studies in Hermeneutics. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1992.

George Bradford Caird, The Language and Imagery of the Bible. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1980. Reprinted Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997. Caird, a Professor of Exegesis at Oxford Univerity, writes from a moderately liberal perspective, but much of his book is nevertheless worthwhile. A readable and interesting study of the interpretation of metaphorical language in the Bible.

Donald A. Carson, Exegetical Fallacies. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1984. Discusses many grammatical, logical, and historical fallacies.

Donald A. Carson and H.G.M. Williamson, eds. It Is Written: Scripture Citing Scripture. Essays in Honour of Barnabas Lindars. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988.

Bruce Corley, Steve Lemke, and Grant Lovejoy, eds. Biblical Hermeneutics: A Comprehensive Introduction to Interpreting Scripture. Nashville: Broadman and Holman, 1996. 2nd ed. 2002. An intermediate level anthology including contributions from 27 conservative Baptist scholars. Extensive but unannotated bibliographies are provided for most chapters.

Peter Cotterell and Max Turner, Linguistics & Biblical Interpretation. London: SPCK, 1989.

Mal Couch (editor), An Introduction to Classical Evangelical Hermeneutics: A Guide to the History and Practice of Bible Interpretation. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2000. 371 pages. A collection of essays, some previously published, all from a dispensationalist perspective. Focuses on eschatology and the church's relation to Israel.

Frederick W. Danker, Multipurpose Tools for Bible Study. Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1960. 2nd ed. 1966. 3rd ed. 1970. For seminary-level students. Includes some very helpful chapters on the use of concordances, the marginal apparatus of the Nestle and Kittel editions, grammars, lexicons, dictionaries, ancient and modern versions, commentaries, etc.

R. M. Davidson, Typological Structures in the Old and New Testaments. Berrien Springs: Andrews University, 1981.

David S. Dockery, Kenneth A. Mathews, and Robert B. Sloan, eds. Foundations for Biblical Interpretation: A Complete Library of Tools and Resources. Nashville: Broadman and Holman, 1994.

Elmer Dyck (editor), The Act of Bible Reading: A Multidisciplinary Approach to Biblical Interpretation. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1996. Contributions by Gordon D. Fee, Craig M. Gay, James Houston, and J. I. Packer.

E. Earle Ellis, The Old Testament in Early Christianity: Canon and Interpretation in the Light of Modern Research. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1992. A good evangelical survey of the apostles' use of the Old Testament.

E. Earle Ellis, Paul's Use of the Old Testament. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1957. Reprinted 1981. A detailed study of Paul's quotations and allusions to the Old Testament. Ellis compares and contrasts Paul's method of interpretation with the uninspired midrash of the Rabbis.

E. Earle Ellis, Prophecy and Hermeneutic in Early Christianity. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1978. 2d ed., 1993.

Millard J. Erickson, Evangelical Interpretation: Perspectives on Hermeneutical Issues. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1993. For advanced students, dealing with special issues and problems. The most interesting and important chapter concerns the principle of "authorial intent." Erickson doubts that this principle can always be upheld in reference to the Old Testament, in light of the typological exegesis practiced in the New Testament.

Patrick Fairbairn, The Typology of Scripture: Viewed in Connection with the Whole Series of the Divine Dispensations. 5th ed. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1870. 2 vols. Reprinted Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1989. A major treatise on typological interpretation. "It is high time that in the midst of controversies in which all kinds of accusations are levelled against the use of the Old Testament by New Testament authors the painstaking work of Patrick Fairbairn and his monumental scholarship be once again taken into consideration" --R. Nicole, "Patrick Fairbairn and Biblical Hermeneutics as Related to the Quotations of the Old Testament in the New," in Hermeneutics, Inerrancy, and the Bible, ed. Radmacher and Preus (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1984), p. 774.

Patrick Fairbairn, Hermeneutical Manual: or, Introduction to the Exegetical Study of the Scriptures of the New Testament. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1858.

Frederic W. Farrar, History of Interpretation. London: Macmillan Co., 1886.

Gordon D. Fee, New Testament exegesis: a handbook for students and pastors. Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1993. A guide for New Testament historical-critical exegesis written for students who know Greek, but with much of the guide accessible to students without knowledge of Greek. The guide describes steps of exegesis with the goal of writing an exegesis paper and also gives a shorter series of steps for sermon preparation. The use of resources for the study of the NT is included in the description of the steps, with a final chapter giving a bibliography of resources organized according to the exegetical step in which the resource would be used. (Introduction)

Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stuart, How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth: A Guide to Understanding the Bible. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1993. 265 pages. A popular introduction to interpretation and application. Discusses pitfalls of interpretation, the need for use of "dynamic equivalence" versions (such as the NIV), and the manner of interpretation proper for various literary genres in the Bible. Some examples given of application and misapplication are rather tendentious, reflecting the Arminian and Pentecostal views of the authors.

Northrop Frye, The Great Code: the Bible and Literature. New York and London: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1982. A influential literary analysis of the Bible which emphasizes the importance of typology and typological thinking in its interpretation.

Northrop Frye, Words With Power: Being a Second Study of "The Bible and Literature." New York: Harcourt, Brace and Jovanovitch, 1990. Written as a sequel to his earlier book, The Great Code (1982).

Norman L. Geisler, Explaining Hermeneutics: A Commentary on the Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics. Oakland, California: International Council on Biblical Inerrancy, 1983.

Leonhard Goppelt, Typos: the Typological Interpretation of the Old Testament in the New. Translated by Donald H. Madvig; foreword by E. Earle Ellis. Grand Rapids: W.B. Eerdmans, 1982. ISBN: 0802835627. Originally presented as the author's doctoral thesis, "Typos, die typologische Deutung des Alten Testaments im Neuen" (Erlangen, 1939).

Robert M. Grant, The Bible in the Church: A Short History of Interpretation. New York: MacMillan, 1948. Reprinted as A Short History of the Interpretation of the Bible. London: Adam and Charles Black, 1963.

Robert M. Grant, Heresy and Criticism: The Search for Authenticity in Early Christian Literature. Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1993.

John H. Hayes and Carl R. Holladay, Biblical Exegesis: a Beginner's Handbook. Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1987. An introduction to the different types of historical-critical methods used in the study of the Old and New Testaments.

E.D. Hirsch Jr., Validity in Interpretation. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1967. An introduction to general hermeneutics (principles that apply to the interpretation of any work of literature) as distinguished from the "special" hermeneutics of Biblical studies. Hirsch is a literary critic and his book does not focus on the Bible, but it is often referred to in the literature of biblical hermeneutics. He emphasizes the principle of authorial intent.

Anthony A. Hoekema, The Bible and the Future. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979. A critique of millennial views written from the perspective of Calvinistic amillennialism.

Benjamin Jowett, "On the Interpretation of Scripture," in Essays and Reviews (London, 1860), reprinted in Essays and Reviews: The 1860 Text and Its Reading, edited by Victor Shea and William Whitla. Victorian Literature and Culture Series. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 2000. ISBN 0-8139-1869-3. A classic statement of liberal hermeneutics.

Elliott E. Johnson, Expository Hermeneutics: An Introduction. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1990. Johnson was for years a professor at Dallas Theological seminary, and his introduction is intended for seminary students. The orientation is conservative and dispensationalist.

Ron Julian, David Crabtree and Jack Crabtree, The Language of God: A Common Sense Approach to Understanding and Applying the Bible. Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2001. 272 pages. A book for beginners, from an evangelical perspective.

Walter C. Kaiser, Toward an Exegetical Theology: Biblical Exegesis for Preaching and Teaching. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1981.

Walter C. Kaiser and Moisés Silva, An Introduction to Biblical Hermeneutics. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994. 302 pages. ISBN: 0310530903. Intended as an introductory textbook for evangelicals. The treatment is unsystematic and sometimes more interesting than informative. The two authors openly disagree with one another on some important points. Especially worthy of note is Silva's chapter 14: "The Case for Calvinistic Hermeneutics." In opposition to the theologically "neutral" inductive approach he contends that "proper exegesis should be informed by theological reflection. To put it in the most shocking way possible: my theological system should tell me how to exegete" (p. 261).

Walter C. Kaiser, The Uses of the Old Testament in the New. Chicago: Moody Press, 1985. ISBN: 0802490859.

Benjamin Keach and Thomas De Laune, Tropologia, or, A key to open Scripture metaphors. The first book containing sacred philology, or the tropes in Scripture, reduc'd under their proper heads, with a brief explication of each; partly translated, and partly compil'd from the works of the learned. By T. D. The second and third books containing a practical improvement (parallel-wise) of several of the most frequent and useful metaphors, allegories, and express similitudes of the Old and New Testament. By B. K. London: printed by John Richardson and John Darby for Enoch Prosser, 1681. Reprinted London, 1855, and in 1972 as Preaching from the Types and Metaphors of the Bible (Grand Rapids: Kregel). A massive treatise on rhetorical figures, metaphors and typology of the Bible (over a thousand pages of compact type). Keach (1640-1704) was a notable Baptist preacher in his day, and his analysis of metaphors and types is not only informative but also warmly devotional.

Ernest F. Kevan, "The Principles of Interpretation," in Revelation and the Bible: Contemporary Evangelical Thought, ed. by Carl F.H. Henry (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1958), pp. 283-98.

William W. Klein, Craig Blomberg, and Robert L. Hubbard, Introduction to Biblical Interpretation. Dallas: Word Publishing, 1993. A comprehensive and well-organized introduction, intended for evangelicals. Its "evangelical" character is however open to question, and it cannot be described as conservative. Redaction criticism is embraced (p. 330), liberation theology receives partial approval, and several illustrations and examples of application reveal a sympathy with liberal political causes. The authors often seem to be more interested in problems and possibilities of application than in interpretation proper.

Ronald W. Leigh, Direct Bible Discovery: A Practical Guidebook for Personal Bible Study. Nashville: Broadman, 1982. 256 pages. A guide to "do-it-yourself" inductive interpretation.

V. Philips Long, Tremper Longman III, Moises Silva, and Vern Sheridan Poythress. Foundations of Contemporary Interpretation. Six volumes in one. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996. 668 pages. ISBN: 0310208289. An intermediate level discussion of the impact that several fields (linguistics, literary studies, science, and theology) have had upon contemporary hermeneutics.

Tremper Longman, III. Literary Approaches to Biblical Interpretation. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1987. 164 pages. Surveys the literary nature of the Bible and introduces the reader to the research that is being carried out on the Bible by literary scholars. Emphasizes the need to make literary interpretation part of exegesis.

Bertrand de Margerie, An Introduction to the History of Exegesis. 3 vols. Massachusetts: St. Bede's, 1998.

Robertson McQuilkin, Understanding and Applying the Bible. Revised ed. Chicago: Moody Press, 1992. A simple and practical book for beginning Bible students.

Dan McCartney and Charles Clayton, Let the Reader Understand: A Guide to Interpreting and Applying the Bible. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1994. ISBN: 0801021278. Second edition, 2002 (Phillipsburg, New Jersey: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co.) ISBN: 0875525164. A clearly written and helpful introduction.

A. Berkeley Mickelsen, Interpreting the Bible. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1963. 425 pages. A comprehensive presentation of hermeneutics, widely used as a standard text in conservative schools. After his retirement from Bethel Seminary, Mickelsen co-authored with his wife Alvera an article which put forth an absurd feminist interpretation of the word Kephale ("head") in Ephesians 5 ("The 'Head' of the Epistles," Christianity Today February 20, 1981, pp 20-23), but there seems to be no evidence of such a desire to distort the meaning of the Scriptures in his 1963 book. Like Bernard Ramm (also at Bethel), he appears to have fallen into liberal views later.

Robert Morgan and John Barton, Biblical Interpretation. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. A liberal treatment.

Roger Nicole, "New Testament Use of the Old Testament," in Revelation and the Bible: Contemporary Evangelical Thought, ed. by Carl F.H. Henry (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1958), pp. 135-51.

Grant R. Osborne, The Hermeneutical Spiral: A Comprehensive Introduction to Biblical Interpretation. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1991. 499 pages. A seminary-level treatment of hermeneutics, sermon preparation, and current critical issues. Proceeds from questionable (sometimes modernistic) assumptions.

James I. Packer, "In Quest of Canonical Interpretation" in Robert K. Johnston, ed., The Use of the Bible in Theology: Evangelical Options. Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1985.

James I. Packer, "Infallible Scripture and the Role of Hermeneutics," in Scripture and Truth, ed. by D.A. Carson and J.D. Woodbridge. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1983.

Earl D. Radmacher and Robert D. Preus, eds. Hermeneutics, Inerrancy and the Bible. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1984. 921 pages. A collection of 48 papers presented at the 1982 International Council on Biblical Inerrancy conference in Chicago. Four appendices: the Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics, Norman Geisler's brief "Commentary" on the statement, J. I. Packer's "Exposition of Biblical Hermeneutics," and Carl Henry's "The Bible and the Conscience of Our Age."

Bernard Ramm, Protestant Biblical Interpretation: A Textbook of Hermeneutics for Conservative Protestants. Chicago: Moody Press, 1953. 2nd ed. 1957. 3rd ed. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1970. The first two editions served as the primary textbook in many conservative seminaries during the 1950's and 60's. In the third edition the words for Conservative Protestants were dropped from the title. Ramm moved gradually away from conservative principles.

D. Brent Sandy and Ronald L. Giese, Jr., Cracking Old Testament Codes: A Guide to Interpreting the Literary Genres of the Old Testament. Nashville: Broadman and Holman, 1995.

Samuel J. Schultz and Morris A. Inch, eds., Interpreting the Word of God. Chicago: Moody Press, 1976.

Moisés Silva, Biblical Words and Their Meaning: An Introduction to Lexical Semantics. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1983.

Moisés Silva, God, Language, and Scripture: Reading the Bible in the light of general linguistics. Foundations of Contemporary Interpretation 4. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1990.

Moisés Silva, Has the Church Misread the Bible? The history of interpretation in the light of current issues. Foundations of Contemporary Interpretation 1. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1987.

R. C. Sproul, Knowing Scripture. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1977. 125 pages. An easy-to-read and practical guide for Bible interpretation, from a Reformed perspective.

T. Norton Sterrett, How to Understand Your Bible. Rev. Ed. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity, 1974. 179 pages.

Alan M. Stibbs, Understanding God's Word. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity, 1950. 64 pages. Although very short, this book has some valuable insights and principles for interpreting the Bible.

Douglas K. Stuart, Old Testament Exegesis: a Primer for Students and Pastors. 2nd ed., revised and enlarged. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1984. A step-by-step guide to OT exegesis with an emphasis on the goal of preaching and teaching in the context of the church. Chapter one presents the methods used in exegesis, chapter two applies the steps to biblical texts, chapter three gives a short step-by-step guide for sermon preparation, and chapter four lists and discusses resources, primarily works published in English. (Preface)

Merrill C. Tenney, The Bible: The Living Word of Revelation. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1968.

Merrill C. Tenney, Galatians: The Charter of Christian Liberty. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1950. "A classic example of the study of a Bible book from many different angles. Each chapter explains and then applies a different method. (That is, each chapter looks at a different aspect of the book of Galatians.) The nine aspects examined are the synthetic (overview), critical (background), biographical, historical, theological, rhetorical, topical, analytical, and devotional aspects. Each chapter adds significantly both to one's understanding of the book of Galatians and to one's appreciation of the value of that particular 'method' of Bible study." --Ronald W. Leigh

Milton S. Terry, Biblical hermeneutics: A Treatise on the Interpretation of the Old and New Testaments. New York: Phillips & Hunt, 1883. second edition, 1890. Reprinted Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1974. 782 pages. A valuable comprehensive treatment by an American Methodist, typical of the careful and detailed scholarship of the nineteenth century. Includes a history of biblical languages, doctrine of inspiration, general and special hermeneutics, and a history of interpretation. Abundant examples and illustrations are given throughout.

Robert A. Traina, Methodical Bible Study - A New Approach to Hermeneutics. Wilmore, Kentucky: Robert Traina, 1952. A detailed guide to inductive Bible study, by a conservative Methodist.

Nigel Turner, Christian Words. Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1980. Reprinted 1997. 532 pages. ISBN: 0567085643.

Henry A. Virkler, Hermeneutics: Principles and Processes of Biblical Interpretation. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1981. 263 pages.

Robert W. Wall, "Reading the Bible from within Our Traditions: The 'Rule of Faith' in Theological Hermeneutics", in Joel B. Green and Max Turner, eds., Between Two Horizons: Spanning New Testament Studies and Systematic Theology, Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 2000.

Roy B. Zuck, Basic Bible Interpretation. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1991. A simple and conservative introduction, by a Professor of Bible Exposition at Dallas Theological Seminary.

Roy B. Zuck, ed. Rightly Divided: Readings in Biblical Hermeneutics. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publishing, 1996.