Book Notice: “Invitation to Biblical Interpretation” by Andreas J. Köstenberger

Zut Alors. I will never catch up with Andreas Köstenberger. Every time I publish an article, he publishes four books. (In fact, one should never compare one’s CV with his, for fear that one will descend into a state of weltschmerz. Don’t say I never told you.) Speaking of which, Dr. Köstenberger recently published Invitation to Biblical Interpretation: Exploring the Hermeneutical Triad of History, Literature, and Theology (Kregel, 2011). This work promises to be a valuable resource for pastors, teachers, and students for years to come. In keeping with our recent tradition on Between the Times, we asked Dr. Köstenberger a few questions about the book.

1. Tell us a bit about yourself, your family, and your ministry.

I’ve taught at Southeastern for 15 years and have directed our Ph.D. program for over a decade. My wife Marny and I have 4 children, 3 of whom are teenagers, which is at once a great joy and a serious God-given responsibility. I love teaching, writing, and, yes, administration! I also serve as Director of Acquisitions for B&H Academic and edit the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society. If you want to know more, or simply keep up, please check out my new, updated website at follow me on Twitter @akostenberger.

2. What was the impetus for writing this book? And why did you feel the need to write it?

Interpreting the Bible accurately is one of the most important responsibilities every Christian has, and is especially important for those who teach and preach God’s Word to others. Ever since I became a Christian, God has given me a burden to excel in this area and to pass on what I’ve learned to others, especially to those entrusted with the preaching ministry in our local churches. Too often, I’ve sat in the pews and have seen preachers fall short in this area. In my years of teaching biblical interpretation at the college, graduate, and doctoral levels, I’ve had a hard time finding a book that’s fully congenial to the way I teach and students best learn in my experience. Invitation to Biblical Interpretation is the product of 10 years of work in collaboration with my contributor, Dick Patterson, who is a seasoned Old Testament scholar and one of the wisest, godliest, and most erudite men I know.

3. What is the primary argument of the book?

In the book, we teach that, no matter what the type of literature you’re dealing with, you should look at the passage’s historical background, literary context, and theological message. I call this the “hermeneutical triad”-history, literature, and theology. When exploring the “literature” aspect of the triad, I recommend that students look at the canonical, genre-related, and linguistic features of the passage.

4. What, above all, do you wish for readers to know and/or do because of the book?

I would encourage them to adopt the hermeneutical triad as their basic method of study-looking at the history, literature, and theology found in a given passage. To that end, the final chapter of the book (thanks to my colleague and friend Scott Kellum) provides practical tips on how to preach from the different biblical genres and guidance on what the best biblical studies tools are and how to use them. On the Kregel website, there will also be chapter quizzes, a study chart, and a set of PowerPoints for teachers who will be using Invitation to Biblical Interpretation in the classroom.

Finally, we would like to point our readers to a sample reading of Invitation (including its endorsements) here, graciously made available by Westminster bookstore.

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