Christian Books

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Understanding and Applying the Bible by Robertson McQuilkin

Understanding and Applying the Bible,
Revised and Expanded
Robertson McQuilkin
Chicago: Moody Press, 2009
334 pages

Rating: 9 out of 10

Quick Summary: Dr. Robertson McQuilkin is the President Emeritus and was the President of Columbia International University from 1968-1990.  In a heartfelt and touching move, he resigned in 1990 to care for his wife, Muriel, who was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, and has since passed away in 2003.  Their story is told in a short book called, A Promise Kept (Amazon link).
Returning to this revue of Understanding and Applying the Bible, McQuilkin has provided a standard, evangelical textbook on Biblical interpretation.  I used his 1992 text in Bible college as well as in seminary!  Thankfully, it was revised and expanded in 2009 to address more recent hermeneutical issues.
According to its author, this book was 35 years in the making and fueled by his frustration over the lack of an adequate hermeneutics textbook for lay, Bible college, and seminary students.  It is a practical and thorough textbook.  He clearly and thoughtfully addresses most of the major issues in hermeneutics such as: presuppositions, communication, and culture.
Also, he addresses the primary concerns of biblical interpretation such as: background to the text, word studies, thought structure, contexts, various genres of literature, interpretation, and application.  The depth of his work has given it broad and lasting use among those who desire to study and apply Scripture.
Evangelical Assessment: McQuilkin is thoroughly evangelical in his text.  I hesitate to criticize his text in any way, but I do have two concerns about it.  Neither of my concerns deals with his evangelical perspective. 
First, I wish that he had provided more of a coherent, overall process.  While he deals logically with the principles and guidelines, he does not provide an overall method for interpreting Scripture.  His study of the various aspects is often unparalleled, but as far as a holistic method, I think that it is lacking.
            Second, with the principles and guidelines that he does make, it seems that he is starting with the words and sentences of the passage, and then, working outward to the context and book.  While this is one possible way of studying the passage, I had rather study it beginning broadly with the book of the Bible and working my way inward toward the passage.  I would suggest studying the passage beginning with background, context, thought structure, passage, sentences, and word study.
            Both of these are a matter of preference on my part.  McQuilkin’s book provides a solid, workmanlike hermeneutics textbook, which has proven itself beyond my opinions by its longevity and usage at many different levels.

Who might this book interest? This book would be of interest to lay, Bible college, and seminary students who are serious about studying God’s Word.  While this text would be best used in a classroom setting, it may also be read individually.

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