This is a reprint in a new format of a book first published in 2005. It sets out a series of sixteen ‘tools’ to enable Christians, and especially students, to interpret and understand the Bible better. Some of these are expected: ‘The author’s purpose tool’, ‘The context tool’, ‘The vocabulary tool’. Others are intriguing at first sight: ‘The copycat tool’, ‘The “Who am I?” tool’, ‘The “So what?” tool’.
Wisely, the authors say of these tools, ‘like a master craftsman, you will need to exercise judgment and skill in the way you use them’.
The opening chapter, ‘What the Bible is and how we should approach it’, gets the book off to a flying start. I was glad to see a section entitled ‘We can understand the Word of God only by the Spirit of God’.
In each chapter there are worked examples that illustrate the way to use the recommended tool, and also, under the heading ‘Dig deeper’, homework for the reader to get the feel of using it. There is a final chapter listing ‘Recommended reading’.
I think it would have been helpful to have more about biblical genres than this book provides and, when applying the ‘Tone and feel’ tool, I felt its rather light-hearted approach was not quite consonant with the serious message of the Bible.
These minor comments apart, this is an excellent introduction to understanding the Bible. It is straightforward and easy to read. Those who use its tools will be saved from misunderstanding the Bible and enabled to open up its riches to their own blessing and that of others, if they are leading Bible studies.
Paul E. Brown