JACKSON, Tenn. – June 24, 2004 – The Holman Guide to Interpreting the Bible aims to introduce Christian laypeople to the basics of Bible study and interpretation. In the 100 page guide, co-authors David S. Dockery and George H. Guthrie explain the importance, history and practical steps for interpretation.
David S. Dockery, president of Union University, hopes to impart the reader with “a sense that the Bible will no longer be a mysterious book to them but one they can begin to understand.”
Each person who reads the Bible makes choices of interpretation. “It’s a question of whether they’re doing it well,” said Guthrie, Benjamin W. Perry Professor of Bible and chair of the department of Christian studies at Union.
Guthrie sees a need for churches to teach members to effectively interpret scripture. “In the church we hold up the Bible as our authority,” he said, “yet we don’t teach people how to study it. We don’t even teach them how to read it well.”
The guide complements the mission of the R.C. Ryan Center for Biblical Studies at Union. “It begins to get the vision of the center outside the walls of the center itself,” Guthrie said. “The ultimate mission of the center is to effect churches all over the United States and even across the world by promoting sound bible study methods and principles of interpretation.”
Because it is intended as an introduction to the basics of interpretation, rather than as a full textbook, the guide is purposefully brief but broad in scope. In providing a context for beginning study, the authors outline the history of biblical interpretation. Dockery explained the needed perspective history provides for readers new to interpretation. “Most people fail to grasp that it is very challenging to jump back 2000 years into another time, another language, another culture without recognizing that we are standing on the shoulders of dozens of people who have labored hard to help us understand the Bible throughout church history,” he said.
Both authors hope the guide will be a starting point for laypeople to begin deeper study of interpretation methods. Dockery recommended the book as a resource for Sunday school teachers and other leaders who have not taken extensive courses in Bible study methods.
Dockery signed copies of the book at the LifeWay booth at the Southern Baptist Convention in Indianapolis, Ind. on June 14. Complimentary, signed copies of the guide were given to those who attended the alumni and friends dessert reception the second night of the convention.