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Hermeneutics: Principles and Processes of Biblical Interpretation [Hardcover]

Henry A. Virkler
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 1981
Bible interpretation is simplified as five steps that most serious Bible readers can practice, with learning aids and clear explanation.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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From the Back Cover

In this accessible textbook, Henry Virkler and Karelynne Ayayo combine hermeneutical theory with practical steps for exegesis. The authors outline a five-step hermeneutical procedure that includes: (1) historical-cultural and contextual analysis, (2) lexical-syntactical analysis, (3) theological analysis, (4) genre identification and analysis, and (5) application. The key distinctive of the book is its emphasis on practical steps of Bible study. Instead of giving readers long lists of rules they need to memorize, this book walks them through a simple step-by-step process that they can integrate into all future study of the Bible.

The popular first edition has been translated into eight languages and has been used in a variety of settings. The second edition adds co-author Karelynne Ayayo and includes updated material covering developments in hermeneutics over the past twenty years. In addition, an Instructor's Resource CD containing teaching suggestions, PowerPoint slides, suggested answers to exercises, and supplementary handouts is available to instructors.

Praise for the first edition

"A useful introduction to the field. . . . [The] emphasis on practical application is a noteworthy goal which the author consistently addresses throughout the book. . . . The author addresses the major topics which a textbook in a hermeneutics course must cover. . . . His sensitivity to the fundamental hermeneutical problems of continuity-discontinuity . . . and cultural dynamics . . . is especially noteworthy. The chosen format is well suited to classroom use. It offers explicit goals stated at the head of each chapter, clear definitions, 'brain teasers,' summaries, practical 'exercises' (questions for discussion), and resource lists."
--Timothy S. Laniak, Bulletin for Biblical Research

"[A] helpful and accessible volume. . . . Virkler deals with most of the key issues in hermeneutics. . . . He does so in language that is understandable to non-specialists. . . . His explication of the various hermeneutical approaches is evenhanded and readable. This would be an excellent text to teach hermeneutics in a church setting. Its accessibility, fairmindedness, quality, and price make it a work with wide appeal. Recommended as an introduction to biblical study for any non-specialist."
--Steve W. Lemke, Southwestern Journal of Theology --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Henry A. Virkler (PhD, Georgia State University) is professor of psychology at Palm Beach Atlantic University. He has written five books, including A Christian's Guide to Critical Thinking. Karelynne Gerber Ayayo (ThD, Boston University) is assistant professor of New Testament at Palm Beach Atlantic University. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great principles! June 27 2003
Format:Paperback
Virkler has developed an excellent system of hermeneutics, and has put it together in a way that is easy to understand. I can't tell you how helpful it is to have him state what he'll cover at the beginning of the chapter, cover it, and then review at the end (similar to the way Mounce does in Basics of Biblical Greek Grammar). It makes it all so easy to grasp! This being said, I gave this book 3 stars instead of 5 because in the examples he provides, he doesn't put his own methods into practice at all! In nearly all of his examples from the Bible it is obvious that he had his exegetical outcome settled by his theology before he even looks to see what the text actually says. When this happens, your theology shapes the Bible instead of the Bible shaping your theology! It is amazing that someone that understands the principles of hermeneutics so well could exegete so poorly. But read the book and take his principles to heart, it is worth it. Just don't pay much attention to his examples.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A great hermeneutics manual for the novice June 27 2003
By dj
Format:Paperback
Virkler's work "Hermeneutics," is widely acknowledged in the Evangelical realm as THE guidebook for novice exegetes. The book makes very strong points and gives adequate guidelines to help laypersons and up and coming pastors/theologians make accurate exegesis in study and homily.
Virkler's step-by-step process for interpreting, as he puts it, the "original intent" of the author of a biblical passage, is very simple to follow and actually apply. For example, the book comes with several "case studies" which may aid the student in conducting proper exegesis of given passages. Virkler also draws upon the biblical text to illustrate his points, which helps the student conceptualize the intended principle.
Virkler's recommendations for additional books and study materials I found inestimable; he even devotes an entire appendix to further studies in "sensus plenior" (dual authorship/intent), which seems to be one of his pet topics.
I do have some reservations about the book, however. First, Virkler does not offer answers to his case study (this may be overlooked given the conditional nature of many of the questions). Furthermore, Virkler frequently interjects his own ideas about how theology or hermeneutics/exegesis should be, even though one can perceive that he's trying very hard to write an objective textbook. An objective text should remain objective in its entirety. Such comments can be easily spotted however, and thereby mentally "set aside." Additionally, I noticed several typos or printing mistakes, mostly in the form of erroneously spelled words or misplaced punctuation marks.
I recommend this book with 4 stars for those who know little to nothing about hermeneutical methods, but would also add that the student can find much more information from more advanced sources, specifically in the realm of the history of hermeneutics.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Good Hands-on Text April 16 2003
Format:Paperback
Interestingly, this introduction to hermeneutics was written by someone who does not consider himself a theologian nor an exegete. Dr. Virkler is a professor of psychology who sensed the need for an introductory text on hermeneutics that translated theory into practical exegesis. His goal in this work was to not only provide a reader with the principles of interpretation needed to exegete Scripture, but to also be able to apply them in sermon preparation or personal Bible study. With this goal in mind, Dr. Virkler included exegetical exercises at the end of almost every chapter dealing with specific passages and involving real life situations. His presupposition throughout this work is that the meaning of a text is the author's intended meaning. This is a great all-around hermeneutics text since it follows a logical structure, is fairly comprehensive and allows the reader to practice what he has learned with the "brain teasers" included. All in all, this is a great text.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Simple and useful June 15 2004
Format:Paperback
Verkler's goal in this work was essential to provide christian laety with a volume on Biblical interpretation that was useful for not only understanding but implemeting the text of scripture. I feel that he has met his goal. Verkler addresses the issues that are typically involved in hermeneutics; history of Biblical interpretation, lexical/syntactical elements, theological models, etc. But he makes it clear that application of scripture is ultimately the purpose of hermeneutics and ultimately his goal in this work. This is a very easy to understand, basic treatment of hermeneutics that will aid in further study. I would recommend this work to anyone who does not wish to, in the words of Matt Damon in 'Good Will Hunting', "...drop a hundred fifty grand on an education you could've gotten in buck fifty in late fees at the local library".
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Introduction to Hermeneutics! May 27 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Virkler does a wonderful job of laying out hermeneutical principles in an orderly and logical way. He gives an overview in the beginning of each chapter and then he gives a summary at the end. This feature helps to summarize the material into understandable groupings. There are exercises at the end of most of the chapters allowing you to use the skills you attained by reading the previous chapter. Virkler gives an objective overview of this topic by presenting various views and then referring you to books from both sides that will further your study of the more specific topics. (i.e. dispensational & covenential theories.) If you are looking for a balanced and objective introduction to hermeneutics, this IS the book for you!
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