The book of Proverbs in the Bible is enjoyed by many for its “practical wisdom.” Proverbs, as you may already know, is a series of truth claims like “Trust in the Lord with all of your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding.” Notice how insightful the statement is as it acknowledges man’s lack of understanding and encourages man’s trust in the Lord. Fan’s of the book of Proverbs are in good company since King Solomon (usually attributed with the authorship of Proverbs) was known as an avid proverbialist since his “… wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the people of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt…He also spoke 3,000 proverbs.” That’s a lot.
We are all edified by the wisdom found in Proverbs and that is why I truly enjoyed reading God’s Book of Proverbs: Biblical Wisdom Arranged by Topic (GBP). GBP consists of the entire book of Proverbs which you would find in your Bible organized by topic. For example, if you are looking for a proverb having to do with friendship. You would first go to the index and look up “Friendship” which would direct you to page 41 where you would find the passages in Proverbs dealing with friendship. There is also a table of contents that gives you a more general list of categories. I found this to be helpful when just reading topically and not looking for something specific. As the subtitle reads this is truly Biblical wisdom arranged by topic.
GBP is an attractive hardcover volume. The publisher has chosen to use the Christian Standard Bible translation giving this volume the Optimal Equivalence between the original language and common everyday English. It is compact in size and can easily fit in a backpack or purse. My personal rating is 5 out of 5 Stars.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
1) It is a reconciling blood (Col 1.21). Sin rent us off from God; Christ’s blood cements us to God.
2) It is a quickening blood (John 6.54). The life of our soul is in the blood of Christ.
3) It is a cleansing blood (Heb 9.14). As the merit of Christ’s blood pacifies God, so the virtue of it purifies us. It is a laver to wash in (1 John 1.7).
4) It is a softening blood. There is nothing so hard but may be softened by this blood. It will soften a stone. It turns a flint into a spring…the heart becomes soft and the waters of repentance flow from it.
5) It cools the heart. The heart naturally is hot, it burns in lust and passion, but Christ’s blood allays this heart and quenches the inflammation of sin. Christ’s blood cools the heat of sin like water to the fire.
6) It comforts the soul. Christ’s blood cures the trembling of the heart. The blood of Christ can make a prison become a palace.
7) It procures heaven (Heb 10.19). Our sins shut heaven; Christ’s blood is the key which opens the gate of paradise for us.
“Let us prize Christ’s blood in the sacrament. It is drink indeed (John 6.55).” These are great things to meditate on while looking forward to Holy Communion.”
from The Lord’s Supper by Thomas Watson
in his “Treatise on the Lord’s Supper” Calvin says “If we have careful regard to the end for which our Lord intended it [the Supper], we should realize that the use of it ought to be more frequent than many make it. …The custom ought to be well established in all churches of celebrating the Supper as frequently as the capacity of the people will allow.”
“Of primary importance in the Lord’s Supper is what God does, not what we do. The Lord’s Supper is above all a gift of God, a benefit of Christ, a means of communicating his grace. If the Lord’s Supper were only a memorial meal and an act of confession, it would cease to be a sacrament in the true sense. The Lord’s Supper, however, is on the same level as the Word and baptism and therefore must, like them, be regarded first of all as a message and assurance to us of divine grace. … Indeed, the host here, in granting the signs of bread and wine, offers his own body and blood as nourishment and refreshment for their souls. That is a communion that far surpasses the communion inherent in a memorial meal and an act of confession. It is not merely a reminiscence of or a reflection on Christ’s benefits but a most intimate bonding with Christ himself, just as food and drink are united with our body.” (Bavinck, Dogmatics IV, 567).
The Theological Interpretation of Scripture (TIS) has become a topic of discussion among academic authors like, Francis Watson, Daniel Treier, Kevin Van Hoozer, and Stephen Fowl. Right from the beginning the name itself sounds like something we shouldn’t be doing. It is as if we are allowing our beliefs to determine what scripture says. While that does happen in many quarters, it’s not the case with TIS. Actually those who are involved in TIS see it more as a recovery of premodern hermeneutics (Bible interpretation). The argument is that modernist hermeneutics, like the Grammatical Historical (GH) method, have not lived up to their promise in providing a method of a truly unified reading of scripture. Some have suggested that the GH method leaves us with interpretive pluralities where each interpreter has the final say on what Scripture says.
So as you can probably imagine this would create a few challenges. If Scripture is the means by which God speaks then It ought to be read as a whole. This first came to my mind many years ago when I suggested that what we were looking for in our interpretation of Scripture was author intentionality in the text. That is to say we wanted to know what the human authors were trying to say. I can remember the conversation because a friend of mine returned and asked if I saw any ambiguity in this. That was when I started to look at other sources like John Calvin. At that point in my life I had only become familiar with Calvin through the Institutes of the Christian Religion which was helpful. However, reading through his commentaries I realized how different his hermeneutic and the hermeneutic of the Patristic homilies were compared to what I had seen in contemporary authors.
So just a recap on what has just been said. TIS places emphasis on the claim that God is the author of Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16) and therefore should be understood in light of the whole. Obviously there is much to say on this and I will have to discuss this in more detail as I work through it myself. But because the subject matter of the Old and New Testament is the Messiah or Jesus Christ (Luke 24:27, John 5:39) we have an essential unity that plays a big role in our exegesis (or what we come away with from the text). This is not to say that GH should be eradicated from our exegetical practice. But TIS does bring unity to the particulars left behind by GH.
What of the human authors of Scripture? I knew you were going to ask that. As I stated above on the ambiguity of author intentionality, the challenge is our inability to definitively map out what the writers intention actually is. TIS seeks to clarify that the author’s intention is what is found in the text. It is God who is the author of Scripture who can make His intention known through the centuries to His people. This last move makes the church the primary context of Biblical interpretation.
I know this was brief but I hope it has prompted you to ask questions about your own method of interpretation. Maybe you can share with me some of your conclusions as I don’t have too many of my own yet. If you are interested I have listed some literature that has contributed to the discussion of TIS below.
Treir, Daniel J. Introducing Theological Interpretation of Scripture: Recovering a Christian Practice. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2008.