Home > Kregel, Reviews > Invitation to Biblical Interpretation by Andreas J. Köstenberger and Richard D. Patterson

Invitation to Biblical Interpretation by Andreas J. Köstenberger and Richard D. Patterson


The Bible is the most printed, most sold, and most read book in the world. It is also one of the least understood and most misquoted books in existence. Why? It does not read like any other book. It is a divinely inspired collection of 66 writings that vary in style and genre. To understand it, one needs to be taught by the same Spirit of God who inspired it and “acquire vital skills in understanding the greatest book ever written.” 

Hermeneutics is the study of principles of interpretation. Without a good hermeneutic, we are prone to many interpretive errors. As the authors of this book tell us in the introduction, “Biblical interpreters are charged with a sacred task: handling Scripture with accuracy. They are entrusted with a sacred object, God’s Word of truth, and their faithfulness or lack thereof will result in God’s approval or in personal shame.”  Men’s souls hang in the balance.

Köstenberger and Patterson present a hermeneutical triad of theology, history and literature. “The interpretive task consists of considering each of the three major dimensions of the hermeneutical triad–history, literature, and theology–in proper balance, with the first two elements–history and literature–being foundational and with theology being at the apex. While discerning the spiritual message of scripture–theology–is the ultimate goal of biblical interpretation, an appreciation of the historical-cultural background of a particular text and a proper understanding of its literary features are essential.”

Chapter 1 begins with Preparation. We are given qualifications as to who can do it, why we should do it, and how we can do it using the triad. We are also treated to a short history of interpretation throughout the ages. Chapter 2 gives us the historical-cultural background of the Bible. Chapters 3-4 deal with the canon of scripture under the literary focus with chapters 5-11 discussing the genres found in holy writ. Language is discussed in chapters 12-14 finishing up the literary aspect. Chapter 15 is about the ultimate goal of interpretation which is theology. Finally, chapter 16 helps us with application of theology.

This book is well suited for the task it seeks to accomplish. Each chapter begins with a page of objectives followed by an outline. Upon completion of the chapter we are given guidelines in list form as well as key words, study questions, assignments and an extensive chapter bibliography.  The authors have done a thorough job of introducing, explaining and fleshing out their hermeneutic.

Anyone who wants a deeper knowledge of scripture would do well to read this book. I cannot recommend it highly enough. It is definitely the best book I have read on the subject. As a father who wants his children to understand the Bible, I will be using this textbook to train my children to study God’s Word.

This book was provided to me by Kregel for the purpose of review.

  • Hardback: 896 pages
  • Publisher: Kregel Academic & Professional
  • ISBN-13: 978-0825430473
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Categories: Kregel, Reviews
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