Journey is a short book devoted to the basics of hermeneutics. It is a rather standard guide, varying little from other conservative grammatical-historical approaches to interpreting Scripture, however it has several unique features. First it is a short work, easily read and thus highly accessible for most Christians wanting a helpful source for understanding the Bible. Secondly, it is designed for use in local churches with a suggested eight-week teaching format (p. 10). And, thirdly, the authors use a creative four-step process to take the reader from the biblical text to accurate interpretation and appropriate application (pp. 15-20). The four steps are constructed along the lines of a metaphorical journey from where we live now (our town), to recognizing the differences between our town and the original biblical audience (described as measuring the river that divided the two times), crossing that river as we search for the timeless theological principles and, finally, grasping the text in our town, that is, applying the theological principles to our lives. The stated goal of the book “is to take you on the journey across the river, to transport you from the text and the world of the biblical audience to valid understanding and application of the text for Christians today” (p. 14). Every chapter in the book is devoted to accomplishing this task (p. 48).
Journey explains and develops the three main components of the hermeneutical method: observation (pp. 24-41), interpretation (pp. 42-74) and application (pp. 85-96). Translations are helpfully discussed in chapter seven and the all-important issues of authorial intent on pages 86-88, and context in chapter six. Concluding chapters address how to approach different genres of Scripture, the New Testament letters (chapter 9), the Gospels (chapter 10), parables (p. 113), Acts (chapter 11), the Revelation (chapter 12), Old Testament law (chapter 13), Old Testament prophets (chapter 14), and the Psalms (chapter 15).
The result is a very fine, easy to use and valuable tool for personal and group study of hermeneutics. By using this guide, a course of biblical interpretation could be incorporated into every local church or Bible study, with great profit.
Journey into God’s Word, Your Guide to Understanding and Applying the Bible by J. Scott Duvall, and J. Daniel Hays (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008) pp. 160, paperback $15.99
Reviewed by Gary E. Gilley, Pastor/teacher at Southern View Chapel