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The Bible. Living by the Book by Hendricks & Hendricks


The book Living by the Book: The Art and Science of Reading the Bible is a recognized work not only in the global theological community but also among ordinary readers. The research that Professor Hendricks conducts with his son makes it possible to better understand the truths spelled out in the Holy Bible and evaluate the Scripture from a new angle. Despite the fact that more than seven years have passed since the professor’s death, his work remains relevant and valuable largely due to the high qualifications of the author. In collaboration with his son, he was able to compile the accumulated knowledge in one book and convey to readers his unique concepts and hypotheses that interpret the Bible in a simpler and more objective sense. Therefore, Living by the Book is commendable as a work written by competent specialists.

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The interpretation of the Bible as one of the most well-known literary works of a religious nature is the key subject of this book. In addition to complex theoretical considerations and hypotheses, Hendricks and Hendricks also offer simple recommendations to readers, which are comprehensive advice on how and why the Bible should be read (79). Regarding interpretation as the basis of the study, the authors pay attention to the methods of analysis, which not only experienced theologians can conduct but also ordinary readers, and this feature makes the book easy to read (Hendricks and Hendricks 229). Applying one’s knowledge and skills is another section of Living by the Book. Hendricks and Hendricks pay attention to a number of essential nuances that need to be taken into account when analyzing the Bible from the perspective of its subtexts and other meanings – questions to ask, truths to consider, suggestions to follow, and some other aspects to which they devote a separate section (289). All these subtopics form the general idea of ​​interpretation as a phenomenon that is accessible to anyone who turns to God’s Word.

Simple and clear recommendations to readers are accompanied by comments and dialogues that make the book livelier and more interesting. For instance, Hendricks and Hendricks provide excerpts from conversations with different people about the Bible and find out their opinions on how they perceive the Scripture and whether they need to get a detailed interpretation of this book (370). This approach proves that the book focuses on the target audience and does not complicate the biblical doctrines but, conversely, makes them as clear as possible. The example of a conversation with a businessman whom Professor Hendricks advised to study God’s Word in his spare time is proof of the comprehensibility of his and his son’s work (370). Therefore, Living by the Book is a book with rich and, at the same time, accessible content, and its analysis helps understand how exactly the Scripture should be read to reveal the full meaning of all the biblical messages.

Premise for Writing

One of the main premises for writing the book in question is the need to explain why not enough readers analyze the Bible comprehensively and in accordance with all available contexts. Hendricks and Hendricks argue that believers study the Scripture willingly and learn God’s Word, but to analyze all the doctrines and dogmas of the text, a deeper analysis is required and, therefore, an appropriate stimulus (13). In this case, Living by the Book may be called such an incentive, and the value of the author’s work is significant for several reasons. Hendricks and Hendricks mention the national American study that demonstrates that more than half of those surveyed cannot name at least one of the gospels, although, according to the people who participated in this survey, they read the Bible regularly (15). Such an outcome is a strong argument in favor of influencing the target audience and helping people to understand the essence and individual aspects of God’s Word better and faster.

The prerequisites for writing Living by the Book are reflected clearly, and it does not take much time to find the reasons that prompted the authors to research. In particular, at the beginning of the book, Hendricks and Hendricks ask the public a question about whether doubts regarding the relevance of the Bible in relation to modern social aspects and acute issues are objective or not (19). Despite the fact that there is no a direct and clear answer, a possible affirmative reaction is implied because, according to the authors, many readers perceive the Scripture literally and cannot grasp the whole meaning that this book contains (19). A few more questions arise, but the aforementioned one is the most acute in view of the contradictions that arise between society and religion. Therefore, this prerequisite for writing is objective and clearly communicated so that readers could understand one of the main authors’ messages.

Finally, another valuable premise that is mentioned in Chapter 2 is an opportunity to help people benefit by studying the Bible in detail. The authors of Living by the Book prove that trying to immerse oneself in the Scripture research can help solve crucial issues and get answers to questions that cannot be found anywhere (21). Such ideas may be interpreted as propagandistic, which contradicts with the unbiased principle of academic research and reveals the authors’ personal positions. However, Hendricks and Hendricks state that they can convince readers that the benefits of a thorough study are significant and obvious (21). In particular, they cite three words: attitude, appetite, and aim, and all of them, according to the researchers, describe the basic factors that encourage a person to correctly interpret biblical messages (Hendricks and Hendricks). As a result, despite the undisguised individual interest, the premises for writing the book are conveyed clearly.

Authors’ Thoroughness of the Research

References to the Bible passages and quotes from individual characters confirm that Hendricks and Hendricks conducted an in-depth analysis of the original source to explain their opinions. Numerous Psalms are given in large numbers, and their meaning and messages are compared with those in relation to modern society. However, one can note that, in addition to the Bible and its branches, there are no credible related resources that could be relevant to obtain a more accurate picture of the research. The controversy is explained by the fact that large parts of Living by the Book contain dialogues between the professor and his audience when the author expresses his ideas regarding the importance of teaching the interpretation of the Bible (Hendricks and Hendricks 67). This technique of proving individual hypotheses and assumptions may be ambiguous from the standpoint of credibility since individual opinions and views on the aspects of the Scripture study that are based on beliefs can be regarded as biased. However, the authors’ experience and their position in relation to analytics are factors that need to be taken into account and respected.

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One of the aspects that confirm the quality of the work done on the book under consideration implies providing rationale in support of the recommendations given to readers. For instance, Hendricks and Hendricks not only offer to read the Bible repeatedly but also give relevant justifications by using real-life examples and prove that the regularity of analysis contributes to a deeper understanding of the content (83). In addition, to evaluate the depth and power of the Scripture narrative, the authors draw attention to the value of exploring different translations and paraphrase variants to grasp the most precise meaning of individual concepts and doctrines and compare interpretation approaches (Hendricks and Hendricks 88). The variability of the methods indicates that Living by the Book contains materials from individual editions of the Bible, and this practice of assessment and comparison increases the credibility of the research. Thus, this aspect serves as a driver that enhances the effect on readers and strengthens the authors’ arguments.

At the same time, various guidelines and schemes that are offered to readers to help them study the Bible are subjective in nature, which confirms the aforementioned aspect of bias and personal interest. For instance, Hendricks and Hendricks consider the option of creating group lessons on the analysis of God’s Word and offer a list of objectives to realize this task (374). Nevertheless, these tips are standard for many other types of group activities, including setting goals, engaging in discussions, and other aims (Hendricks and Hendricks 374). As a result, despite the reasonableness of such a proposal, there are no uniquely new concepts and approaches concerning the proposed activity. Therefore, in terms of the thoroughness of research, Hendricks and Hendricks’ book is a valuable but relatively superficial source with numerous individual opinions and biases.

Impacts of the Authors’ Research

The book Living by the Book has influenced me with a variety of tools used for analysis. At the same time, I cannot argue that the research has opened up for me many new principles and practices that allow interpreting and analyzing God’s Word professionally and skillfully. Hendricks and Hendricks offer steps that may be found in other authors, for instance, the practice of reading and memorizing correctly, but the evidence base is not deep and detailed enough to rely on the effectiveness of specific techniques and their relevance (79). At the same time, when accepting the authors’ revelations for the truth, I was surprised how many people did not know how to interpret biblical messages and analyze the content of the Bible, which is shown in accordance with the national survey (Hendricks and Hendricks 15). This means that, in general, the book cannot be called unique and extremely strong in terms of its impact. However, some of the authors’ techniques attract attention and serve as an additional incentive to engage readers in discussion and analysis.

Despite controversial arguments in terms of their practical relevance, the book, nevertheless, has exposed to me new truths. For instance, Hendricks and Hendricks’ ideas about the possible transformation of consciousness after a correct and consistent analysis of the Bible have become unique for me and allowed me to reconsider my views on a traditional approach to the interpretation of God’s Word (299). The mechanism for submitting the information is also unusual because, contrary to the academic principles of presentation, the content of the book is built in a non-standard way and aims to bring readers closer to the authors. Hendricks and Hendricks have managed to establish a productive dialogue with the target audience and turn the complex aspects of interpretation into a simple and understandable process, for instance, when the authors propose ways to start acquaintance with the Bible with observation (51). Living by the Book contributes to gaining insight into the essence of the analysis from the perspective of an ordinary reader but not a professional theologian. Therefore, although the book contains numerous individual observations, its role in influencing the public can be significant.


The book Living by the Book: The Art and Science of Reading the Bible is a non-standard work that offers unique authors’ views on the concepts and approaches to the interpretation and analysis of God’s Word. I would recommend the book as a resource to complement the theology learning program and use it as an auxiliary source. It can be useful to better understand the class content, although some aspects of the research are ambiguous. The book is filled with reasoning and personal views, as well as dialogues presented in an informal manner. At the same time, Hendricks and Hendricks have succeeded in explaining complex doctrines and attracting the attention of the target audience through comprehensive and clear explanations, despite the authors’ biased approach. Therefore, Living by the Book may be relevant to studying the basics of the interpretation and analysis of the Bible.

Works Cited

Hendricks, Howard G., and William D. Hendricks. Living by the Book: The Art and Science of Reading the Bible. Moody Press, 2007.

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