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The Hermeneutical Spiral: A Comprehensive Introduction to Biblical Interpretation

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  506 ratings  ·  48 reviews
Recipient of a Christianity Today 1993 Critics Choice AwardIn this newly revised and expanded edition, Grant Osborne provides seminary students and working pastors with the full set of tools they need to move from sound exegesis to the development of biblical and systematic theologies and to the preparation of sound, biblical sermons. Osborne contends that hermeneutics is ...more
Paperback, 624 pages
Published December 1st 2006 by IVP Academic (first published November 1991)
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Jimmy Reagan
Mar 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This massive book lives up to its subtitle of “a comprehensive introduction to Biblical interpretation”. It’s the fullest volume I have seen on the subject and it brings the word encyclopedic to mind. There’s no way that you could find any subject in the field of hermeneutics not mentioned in this book. Its greatest strength may also be its greatest weakness as it may be simply to prolix for some people. Still, Grant Osborne has had as much direction in the scholarly world for hermeneutics study ...more
José Calvo
Mar 05, 2019 rated it it was ok
This book is extremely long and extremely complicated. Is not for the average reader, but instead it is highly academic and scholarly framed. If what you want is a practical handbook on hermeneutics (biblical interpretation) then do not start with this but rather use Stuart&Fee's "How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth". Almost the same material, but much more accessible. ...more
Jeremy MacDonald
Nov 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I timely guide for contemporary preaching. It left me feeling hopeful that the quest for honest interpretation of the Scriptures is possible. The phrase, "hermeneutics of humility" will stay with me. We are never done learning!
Gregory Johnston
Jun 21, 2017 rated it liked it
This book is very academic, and I compare this to Fee and Stuart's book "How to Read The Bible For All Its Worth". Fee and Stuart have a much more accessible work geared towards scholar and layperson alike. Osborne on the other hand goes into far greater depth regarding hermeneutics and exegesis. He takes different hermeneutical topics and attempts to give multiple views on how to approach these topics. In that way if is far more comprehensive that Fee and Stuart’s work. What is interesting is t ...more
Mar 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Anyone who can write scholarly material without sounding like a pompous windbag is probably amazing. ;)

Osborne takes the scariness out of Biblical Interpretation and shows you how to do it well while shedding light on the many exegetical fallacies. But he doesn't stop there––he puts it in normal words and a 'you can do it, too!' tone.

This is an undergrad/seminary read, but is accessible for anyone interested in Biblical Interpretation. If I were wanting to learn 'more' about this area, this bo
Christian Barrett
This book was not an easy one to get through. As I was reading it I realized just how technical it is. This is much more academic and rigorous compared to other hermeneutic books I have read. Osborne gives very broad overviews of different styles, and breaks down specific ones. This book is not for everyone, and I would argue that there may be others that are more beneficial for those in ministry. However, the final chapter that bring preaching and study of the Bible together were very practical ...more
Aug 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is mandatory reading for those that want to take seriously the ventures of reading and understanding Scripture. Osborne explicates, with no lack of brevity, a very systematic and thorough approach to hermeneutics (though I'm not sure if he completely nailed the landing of reconfiguring the Hegelian Heremeneutical Circle into a Heremeneutica; Spiral, but the methodology certainly checks out).
Aug 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
In The Hermeneutical Spiral, Osborne argues that biblical interpretation entails a “spiral” from text to context, from original meaning to significance for today’s church (p. 22). As one wrestles with biblical interpretation, he is spiraling nearer and nearer to the text’s intended meaning for contemporary significance.

For more, see:
Matt Crawford
Feb 19, 2020 rated it liked it
Osborne lays out a very detailed approach to hermeneutics. It is all in the title. It is often used as a textbook and reads as such. Hermeneutics is multilayered. It takes from other disciplines. Much like a snowball effect, one cannot lightly enter hermeneutics. Osborne gives lessons that would help with scripture, philosophy, classic works, and just reading in general. The language is quite scholarly though. It wouldn’t surprise me if you’re buying this book because you have to for a class.
Apr 28, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: hermeneutics
A good book, arguing that through an inductive approach the interpreter can arrive at understanding of a text. The hermeneutical spiral is the upward movement between text and reader, part and whole, that allows understanding to deepen through repeated close reading. However, not the most clear writing, and at times it seemed to reduce interpretation to the following of steps in proper order.
Feb 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is an absolutely necessary reference book for anyone who needs to properly interpret the Bible. This means scholars and preachers, alike. Osborne does a masterful job connecting the disciplines of exegesis to biblical theology, to systematic theology, to homiletical theology, all while describing each in depth.
Apr 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent resource for learning how to do correct hermeneutics. Osbourne does a tremendous job of evaluating, analyzing, and comparing the various methods. Very insightful and helpful, despite the length!
Jack Foster
Oct 01, 2020 marked it as personal-library
An excellent and accessible introductory overview of an important and (in my opinion) fascinating subject.
John Kight
Jan 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Well-established as the standard evangelical work in the field of biblical hermeneutics since first being published in 1991, The Hermeneutical Spiral: A Comprehensive Introduction to Biblical Interpretation by Grant R. Osborne has been revised and expanded to meet the changing needs of the next generation. New chapters on the Old Testament law and use of the Old Testament in the New have been added, and general revisions have been undertaken throughout the volume. While the original work was wel ...more
Dave Courtney
Jan 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is a comprehensive work on the process and philosophy of Biblical Interpretation (Hermeneutics). It is written towards an early seminary level. It is however written favourably towards the common ear.

It is nicely categorized (and sub-categorized). More importantly it is complete in its ground up approach. With a passionate concern to help us see scripture (as a forming process) through the complicated process of language (grammar), culture (contextualization) and history (historical narrat
Nathan Marone
As the title says, Osborne's book is an introduction to Biblical interpretation, or hermeneutics. The key in approaching this book is understanding that it is not designed to provide tools for devotional Bible study. It is geared toward Bible college students, seminarians, and pastors. Its end goal is to assist these people in interpreting the Bible well, in seeing it as both a historical literary library and as a living revelation of God to be proclaimed. For Osborne the Bible can be studied fo ...more
Nov 21, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: bible
This is exactly what the subtitle says. It is very comprehensive, and extremely technical. It is Evangelical and oriented to a grammatical-historical approach to Bible, as opposed to the historical-critical approach popular in liberal Protestant and Catholic seminaries. Being Evangelical, it is outside the mainstream on some points (choosing minority positions over the majority that you would find in the literature, hence 3 stars), but overall a very good introduction (if not the best on the mar ...more
Feb 08, 2014 rated it liked it
Osborne seeks to produce a text that grammatically explores the words of Scripture. Focusing on the field of hermeneutical interpretation, he approaches theory of language, words, and communication.

At times the book seems dense and monotonous - I myself can only read about "grammar" for so many pages. I could rarely read more than 40, 50 pages in one sitting because of the density surrounding Osborne's thoughts and ideas communicated.

That being said, however, the book itself is organized, strai
May 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent introduction to exegesis and hermeneutics. It is deep and weighty. Not a light read. It covers everything. It answers questions raised by the New Hermeneutics. Osborne writes from an evangelical point of view. His most important consideration in exegesis is the text itself. This is an advanced book on hermeneutics. A good introductory book is Fee and Stewart's "How to Read the Bible For All It's Worth" or my "Getting the Most From the Bible." This book covers a whole range o ...more
Jul 26, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christian-misc
This is a dense book packed with pretty much all the angles relating to Biblical hermeneutics. Oddly enough, it seems like there is both too much information as well as a cursory glance at the information. Entire books are written about each section of this book, or even just segments of a section of this book, so there is a wealth of material out there if a person wants to go more in depth. This is a good introduction, though with all the technical writing it isn't the most accessible of books.
John Crowe
Dec 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The word "Comprehensive" in the title is an understatement. The book is just too rich and exhaustive to be called an introductory text. His 415 pages of text covers the entire hermeneutical process from text to sermon in precise detail with plenty of directions for pastors.

I read this book in my first Doctor of Ministry Course "Biblical Interpretation for Life and Ministry."
Dr. Chad Newton, PhD-HRD
Dec 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science
I greatly enjoyed this large book on hermeneutics! Osborne's text is a required textbook in PhD courses on exegetical research methods at Regent University. I used the content to analyze Deuterocanonical texts for themes associated with ethical standards. The results were very fruitful and published.
Sep 09, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone
This is an excellent book, a literary look at the bible, from a Christian world view, in order to learn to better exegete the text and understand the actual meaning. As a professor he is amazing as well.
Mike Mullen
Feb 04, 2012 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Pastors and preachers, beginning seminary students.
Recommended to Mike by: Christianity Today Magazine- Book of the Year
This is a well done survey of the hermeneutical issues facing the preacher in interpreting. It is well balanced yet conservative. The last chapters were a bit to brief in comparison with the rest of the book, yet were integrally linked to what was put forth before.
Oct 15, 2012 rated it liked it
This is what it claims to be: a COMPREHENSIVE introduction to Biblical interpretation. If you haven't read several books or taken a few classes on the topic previously, it will be overwhelming. That said, he has some awesome charts that I'll be using with my students!
Dec 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Incredibly informative and extremely helpful. A very tough read, felt like he was trying to lose you every page, but it was extremely comprehensive and dealt with every issue by explaining the logic behind his stance as well as his opponents logic for their position.
Werner Fourie
Dec 15, 2016 rated it liked it
Osborne gives a very thorough explanation on everything that is Biblical Interpretation. It is a little too complicated for my liking though. I would not recommend "The Hermeneutical Spiral" for anyone desiring to casually learn about hermeneutics.
I read part of this, and thought it was great - there were just other books I wanted to read MORE. I'll get back to this one someday.
Oct 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
A must for lit majors interested in biblical theory.
John Hamstra
Yes, this is exactly what the title says it is... a comprehensive introduction
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Grant R. Osborne was an American theologian and New Testament scholar. He was Professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.

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“Jesus said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” (Mt 5:17). Yet Paul could say, “Christ is the end of the law” (Rom 10:4); “you also died to the law through the body of Christ” (Rom 7:4); and “Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law” (Gal 3:25). Hebrews states, “By calling this covenant ‘new,’ he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear” (Heb 8:13), and “The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming” (Heb 10:1). The Matthew text is the key one, for Jesus is asserting that the Torah has not been abrogated and in fact is intact in him.” 0 likes
“They have been fulfilled in Christ, so we must determine their theological purposes and apply them to current situations. We need holiness and a proper relationship with God just as they did, and the legal regulations properly understood can help us center on those critical areas of the Christian life.” 0 likes
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