Rightly Dividing The Word: Volume 2-Special Hermeneutics, Terry Hightower, Editor
This book is the companion volume to General Hermeneutics previously reviewed. As stressed before, learning to rightly divide the word and ascertain Bible authority is essential for every elder, preacher, and Christian. This is the study of Hermeneutics.
As stated in the Foreword of volume two, the first volume:
…primarily involved those matters which apply to all interpreters of literature and to all portions of the Bible, whereas this present volume (II) deals mainly with Special Hermeneutics: definitions and principles which make it easier to interpret literary forms or to convey the meaning found in specific topical areas treated in Biblical materials. Since these forms or themes occur frequently in Scripture, the Bible student often can use such exegetical help. God’s divine word is composed of a wide range of writings of different styles and variety of backgrounds. There are poems, songs, prayers, parables, letters, biographical accounts, victory hymns, lamentations, historical catalogs, prophecies, apocalypses, typological writings, statements involving numerology, wisdom writings like proverbs, and on and on and on.
The second volume touches on many of these forms of language and more including personification, allegories, synecdoche, metonymy, irony, sarcasm, satire, similes, and a host of other figures of speech in the Bible. It also deals with examples and culture as it relates to Bible authority.
This book also deals with the “New” Hermeneutic, which is a re-packaging of many false concepts of times past. The recycling of these “houses on sand” is a testament to the importance of continually teaching the fundamentals of God’s word. It is tragic that we are losing Christians who have become entangled with the cares of this world or are beaten down with the challenges of life and give up. It is equally tragic if we lose Christians to the “New” Hermeneutic due to it being given an opportunity to survive because of the lack of continual teaching on the fundamentals. Remember one of the lessons from Judges, “10When all that generation [of Joshua’s day, DRK] had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the Lord nor the work which He had done for Israel. 11Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served the Baals; 12and they forsook the Lord God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt; and they followed other gods from among the gods of the people who were all around them, and they bowed down to them; and they provoked the Lord to anger.” (Judges 7:10-12). It is the present generation’s responsibility to teach the next generation. I can recall one person lamenting a series of lessons by a preacher on why churches of Christ do not use the mechanical instrument in worship. A few years later in a gospel meeting this same person was grateful for a lesson on the same subject (by the same preacher years later). What was the difference? The person had seen the fruit of not teaching on the fundamentals of rightly dividing God’s word. I suspect that this is typical of many congregations which is why the “New” Hermeneutic has achieved the success it has. Hopefully, the leadership of congregations will return to the teaching of the old paths and teach the next generation to walk therein.
The book contains a series of lectures given at the Shenandoah church of Christ and includes supplemental articles supplied by the editor, Terry Hightower, which increase the value of the work. Of particular value is the index of both volumes by author, topic, and scripture reference.
Studying this book will be very profitable to all whether you have small or great amount of knowledge in the field of Hermeneutics.
Originally printed in West Virginia Christian, Vol. 9, No. 5, May 2002, p. 8. Reprinted by permission.