702: Syllabus


Details: 702
Semester: 2017 Fall
Credit hours: Two
Lecturer: Gerald Bilkes
Contact info: jerry.bilkes@prts.edu; (616) 432-3401
Office hours: Tuesday and Thursday from 10-noon. Please contact my office assistant, Marjoleine de Blois (mjdeblois@gmail.com), to schedule an appointment.
Facilitator: Chris Engelsma
Course Purpose:
All God-honoring ministry aims at knowing and doing the will of God.  Since the will of God is given us in the Scriptures, accurate interpretation of the Scriptures becomes foundational to everything that happens in ministry (MDiv 1).  To this end, this course aims to equip the student with the necessary principles which should guide him in his interpretation of the word of God.  It examines the principles of grammatical-historical and theological interpretation (MDiv 3), surveys the main historical (MDiv 2) and contemporary (MDiv 6) schools of interpretation as well as the apostolic practice of interpretation.
Course Description:
This course is an online course which means that instruction is delivered using a combination of online sources and direct instruction.  Students will engage each other and the professor in online discussion forums.
Course Objectives:
The student will:

  1. Understand the major hermeneutical issues that contemporary pastors face;
  2. Articulate the importance of hermeneutics for effective ministry;
  3. Recognize the presuppositions that Reformed pastors bring to the exegetical task;
  4. Trace the rise and fall of different hermeneutical trends throughout church history;
  5. Formulate the general rules to be observed in the Bible interpretation;
  6. Articulate what contribution types make to the meaning of a given text;
  7. Identify a method for isolating the authorial intent in each parable;
  8. Grasp the proper exegetical approach to the Song of Solomon;
  9. Analyze several contemporary approaches to hermeneutics;
  10. Recognize good applications of Scripture teaching.
Required Texts:
Course Requirements:
This course is two credit hours and hence eighty hours of work.

Reading & Worksheets: 25%
Fairbairn Review: 25%
Midterm Exam: 25%
Final Exam: 25%
Total: 100%

Midterm & Final Exam:  Both of these will focus on the lectures and the Kostenberger readings.
Fairbairn review:  Write a five page paper in which you summarize and assess a chapter from Fairbairn’s book Hermeneutical Manual.  In this assignment, you will interact and assess the reviews of the other students.

Start a (digital) log for each book of the NT as well as other matters covered, and take notes that will aid your review in preparation for the exam – as well as enable you over the long term to have and build a good deposit of material for synodical exams, or when it comes to preaching or teaching on the various books of the New Testament. If you wish to do this electronically, please see Chris Engelsma.
1. 8/27 Introduction
2. 9/4 Presuppositions
3. 9/11 History of Hermeneutics
4. 9/18 Method
5. 9/25 Method (cont.)
6. 10/2 Figurative Language
7. 10/9 Reading Break
8. 10/16 Interpreting Narrative
9. 10/23 Typology
10. 10/30 Midterm
11. 11/6 Poetry
12. 11/13 Letters
13. 11/20 Thanksgiving Break
14. 11/27 Application & Mission
15. 12/4 Application & Mission (cont.)
16. 12/11 Final Exam
In order to benefit most from the class and handle the workload most efficiently, I expect:

  • Time Stewardship: Use the schedule above to allot your time.
  • Electronic Submission: I expect all submissions to be made electronically.
  • It is assumed that students submitting written work to PRTS have signed their agreement to PRTS’s doctrinal standards. Please submit work that is consistent with these standards.
  • Plagiarism: You can read the seminary’s policy on plagiarism here.
  • Grading: The standard PRTS grade scale is used.
  • Late work: I will reduce the grade of work turned in late in accord with the standard PRTS policy.

Discussions: Read the principles for effective discussion.

Hints for Succeeding:

Philosophy Of Learning:

The Capacity for Knowledge
God’s Word tells us that we have the capacity to know God since we’ve been created in the image of God. Though that capacity has been radically corrupted through the fall, when God works in grace, he principally and gradually restores it by his Spirit, as the Spirit reshapes us after the image of Christ. Thus by grace in Jesus Christ, and through the illuminating work of God’s Holy Spirit, we can once again know God and his glory, know truth, know each other, and know everything we need to know to live to the glory of God.
God uses His self-revelation in the twin books of nature and His Word to that end. For us fallen creatures the Scriptures are the only path towards true knowledge. The Scriptures are the Word of God, infallibly down to the very words. The Word of God is the touchstone of truth. Thus we must have a thorough-going disposition of teachability, in order to receive this Word of God, its content, and come under its claim.
The Connectivity of Knowledge
God’s Word also tells us that alongside our capacity for knowledge, we have the capacity for righteousness and holiness. We can distinguish these capacities, but we cannot separate them. Right knowledge tends to righteousness and holiness, just as righteousness and holiness are based on true knowledge. Knowledge that does not tend towards righteousness and holiness is false or formal knowledge, and destructive. Accordingly, I teach knowledge with an eye to show the connectivity of knowledge to practice and piety.
The Components of Knowledge
As I teach any subject – whether exegesis, hermeneutics, biblical theology, etc.—I’m aiming that the student makes fundamental gains in:

  1. Discerning the Relevance of the subject;
  2. Grasping the Content of the subject;
  3. Accessing the Sources of the subject;
  4. Practicing the Skills related to the subject;
  5. Pursuing the Implications flowing from the subject;
  6. Engaging the Debates involved in the subject; and
  7. Radiating a Passion fitting the subject.
Alexander, A. “Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth.” in The Princeton Pulpit. ed. John T. Duffield. pp. 29-47. New York: Scribner, 1852.
Barker, William S. and Godfrey, W. Robert, eds. Theonomy: A Reformed Critique. selections. Grand Rapids: Academie, 1990.
Beale, G. K. ed. The Right Doctrine from the Wrong Texts? Selections. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1994.
Berkhof, L. Principles of Biblical Interpretation. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1962.
Blomberg, C. L. Interpreting the Parables. Downers Grove: Intervarsity, 1990.
Campbell, Iain D. “The Song of David’s Son: Interpreting the Song of Solomon in the Light of the Davidic Covenant.” in Westminster Theological Journal 62, 2000. pp. 17-32.
Clowney, Edmund. Preaching and Biblical Theology. pp. 100-101. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1961.
Clowney, Edmund. The Unfolding Mystery: Discovering Christ in the Old Testament. p 14. Colorado Springs: Navpress, 1988.
Dockery, David S., K. A. Mathews, and Robert Bryan Sloan. Foundations for Biblical Interpretation: A Complete Library of Tools and Resources. Nashville, Tenn: Broadman & Holman, 1994.
Doriani, Daniel M. Getting the Message: A Plan for Interpreting and Applying the Bible. Phillipsburg: P & R, 1996.
Fairbairn, P. Hermeneutical Manual. Selections. Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1868.
________. The Interpretation of Prophecy. Reprinted; Grand Rapids: Baker, 1976.
Fairbairn, P. The Typology of Scripture: Viewed in Connection with the Whole Series of the Divine Dispensations. Selections. 2 vols. New York: N. Tibbals & Sons, 1880.
Fee, Gordon D. New Testament Exegesis. Rev. Ed. pp. 65-80. Louisville: Knox, 1983.
________ and Douglas Stuart. How to Read the Bible for All It’s Worth. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003.
Ferguson, Sinclair. “How Does the Bible Look at Itself?” in Inerrancy and Hermeneutic: A Tradition, A Challenge, A Debate. pp. 47-66. Harvie M. Conn, ed.Grand Rapids: Baker.
Geisler, N. “Beware of Philosophy: A Warning to Biblical Scholars.” pp. 3-19. JETS 42:1. March 1999.
Gerstner, John H. Wrongly Dividing the Word of Truth: A Critique of Dispensationalism. pp. 74-101. Brentwood: Wolgemuth & Hyatt, 1991.
Goldsworthy, Graeme. “Biblical Theology and Structure of Revelation.” in Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture. pp. 46-114. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000.
Harrisville, Roy A., and Walter Sundberg. The Bible in Modern Culture: Theology and Historical-Critical Method from Spinoza to Käsemann. Grand Rapids, Mich: W.B. Eerdmans Pub. Co, 1995.
Henzel, Ronald M. Darby, Dualism, and the Decline of Dispensationalism Reassessing the Nineteenth-Century Roots of a Twentieth-Century Prophetic Movement for the Twenty-First Century. Tucson, Ariz: Fenestra Books, 2003.
Hoffecker, W. Andrew,  Revolutions in Worldview:  Understanding the Flow of Western Thought (Philipsburg:  P and R, 2007).
Kaiser, W. The Uses of the Old Testament in the New 1-23 (Intro), 35-41 (Apologetic), 61-76 (Prophetic), 103-141 (Types), 197-235 (Civil and Ceremonial).Chicago: Moody, 1985.
________. Toward an Exegetical Theology: Biblical Exegesis for Preaching and Teaching. Selections. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1981.
Klein, William W., Blomberg, Craig L., Hubbard, Robert L. Jr. Introduction to Biblical Interpretation. pp. 155-374. Dallas: Word, 1993.
MacArthur, John. The Truth War: Fighting for Certainty in an Age of Deception. Nashville: Nelson Books, 2007,
McCartney, Dan and Charles Clayton. Let the Reader Understand: A Guide to Interpreting and Applying the Bible. Wheaton: Victor Books, 1994.
M’Clelland, A. A Brief Treatise of the Canon and Interpretation of the Scriptures. New York: Robert Carter and Brothers, 1860. Especially good on canon and single meaning of Scripture.
Mickelsen, A. Berkeley. Interpreting the Bible. Selections. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1963.
Naugle, David K.  Worldview:  The History of a Concept (Grand Rapids:  Eerdmans, 2002).
Richard Lints, The Fabric of Theology:  A Prolegomenon to Evangelical Theology (Grand Rapids:  Eerdmans, 1993).
Packer, J. I. “The Puritans as Interpreters of Scripture.” In Among God’s Giants: Aspects of Puritan Christianity. pp. 128-139. Eastbourne: Kingsway, 1991.
Perkins, W. The Art of Prophesying. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1996.
Poythress, V. S. The Shadow of Christ in the Law of Moses. Brentwood: Wolgemuth & Hyatt, 1991.
Ryken, Leland, et. al., eds. Dictionary of Biblical Imagery. Downers Grove: Intervarsity, 1998.
Terry, Milton S. Biblical Hermeneutics: A Treatise on the Interpretation of the Old and New Testaments. New York: Phillips & Hunt, 1890. Reprint ed., Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1964.
Young, E. J. Thy Word is Truth: Some Thoughts on the Biblical Doctrine of Inspiration. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1957.
Waltke, Bruce K. “Theonomy in Relation to Dispensational and Covenant Theologies,” in Theonomy:A Reformed Critique. pp. 59-86. eds. William S. Barker and W. Robert Godfrey. Grand Rapids: Academie, 1990.
Zuck, R. B., ed. Rightly Divided : Reading in Biblical Hermeneutics. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1996.
________. Basic Bible Interpretation. Wheaton: Victor, 1991.