Dr Peter Masters, pastor of the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London, has written this book on how to interpret the Bible. More specifically, he has written it because of the errors which have dogged the ‘modern’ approach to interpretation. What are these ‘modern’ approaches? In the second chapter Dr Masters makes a list of these errors:
1. That the sole task of the expositor is to understand the literal sense consciously intended by the original human author to be fully understood by his contemporary hearers. There is no other meaning to the text
2. Every passage of scripture has but a single sense or meaning and no other.
3. The interpreter must not bring to a passage any religious opinions, expectations or presuppositions
4. No biblical doctrine or other text may be allowed to throw light on a passage unless it was known to the original human author. (So the NT must not be used to throw light on the OT.)
5. The interpreter must never allegorize or spiritualize a passage for this is utterly reprehensible (poor Matthew Henry, or the Puritans!)
6. An Application for today must be derived strictly from the human author’s intended meaning.
These are the six errors being made today in terms of exegesis. The sentence following this list says:
Unbelievable as it may seem to many readers, this is what is being taught today from the leading textbooks on the subject used in many evangelical seminaries and Bible Colleges…
The rest of the book takes each error and shows the reader why it is an error and then what the reader should be doing instead. The final appendix is Dr Masters 21 steps for preparing a message (all of which I thoroughly agree with.)
Again, as with all of Dr Masters material, many of you will strongly disagree with him – and thats fine, but he will make you think – and this book is no exception. However, I would suggest that reading this book would not be a waste of time – but will challenge you to think through the steps of interpretation, some of which you may have used or accepted without any questioning. If you have read the list above and said to your self “No – I disagree with him” do you know WHY you have disagreed with him. Can you articulate the why?
If not, then read this book.