Basic Bible Interpretation by Roy B. Zuck

Our Rating: ★★★★☆

Basic Bible Interpretation

Basic Bible Interpretation deals with the basics for interpreting the Bible so that the exegete can consistently find the meaning of the Scriptures in order to communicate that meaning to his or her present-day audience.


Dr Roy B. Zuck has earned A.B. from Biola University, Th.M and Th.D from Dallas Theological Seminary. He a professor of Bible Exposition at Dallas Theological Seminary and has been associate editor and editor of The Dallas Theological Journal – Bibliotheca Sacra.

Dr Roy B. Zuck has authored many books during his theological journey. However, Basic Bible Interpretation is one of those books that will live on for many years to come because it's very readable and understandable by the average person.

As Louis A. Barbieri wrote: "At last a book on hermeneutics you can understand. Dr Roy B. Zuck has drawn heavily on his many years of teaching int the seminary classroom to present and excellent treatise on Bible interpretation. While this book will be well received in the classroom, it is one that I will be wholeheartedly recommending to my congregation. While the scholarship is clearly present, it is nevertheless most readable and understandable by the average layperson. This book will make a valuable contribution to your ability to comprehend the Scriptures".


In Basic Bible Interpretation Dr Roy B. Zuck points out that Bible interpretation is essential for understanding and teaching the Bible properly. Also Bible interpretation is essential as a step beyond observation and essential for applying the Bible correctly.

Zuck outlines the challenges of Bible interpretation, considers the problems of Bible interpretation, explores the history of Bible interpretation and defines the key terms of Bible interpretation.

The essential chapters of this book are as follows:

  • The What and Why of Biblical Interpretation
  • Bible Interpretation – Then and Now
  • Whose View Is Valid?
  • Bridging the Cultural Gap
  • Bridging the Grammatical Gap
  • Bridging the Literary Gap
  • Figures of Speech
  • Testing the Types and Sensing the Symbols
  • Probing the Parables and Analyzing the Allegories
  • Interpreting Prophecy
  • The Use of the Old Testament in the New Testament
  • Applying God's Word Today


Grammatical studies of the Scriptures are essential for a clear understanding of the author's intended meaning of the text. Furthermore, grammatical studies also honor the verbal inspiration of the Scriptures. As Zuck noted, "You can make the Bible mean anything you want it to mean if you ignore grammatical interpretation" (Zuck p. 91).

Grammatical interpretation involves discovering the meaning of words, the form of words, the function of words and the relationship of words. To determine the single meaning of words, etymology, usage, comparison and context are very important. While etymology discovers the root meaning of words and the historical development of words, usage discovers the current meaning of words.

Moreover, comparing how a word differs from its exact or near opposite sometimes will help determine meaning. Above all, the context is paramount in determining the meaning of words, phrases, and clauses. To ignore the context will only bring disaster. As the old adage goes, "A text without a context becomes a pretext for a proof-text". In other words, you can make the Scriptures mean anything you want it to mean if you ignore the context.

The formation of words is also determinative. The way words are formed influences their meaning. Adding or removing a suffix or prefix changes the meaning of words. Therefore, taking note of the form of words is helpful in determining meaning. Furthermore, how words function in a phrase, clause or sentence also influences meaning. Hence, understanding parts of speech will be helpful in determining meaning.

Finally, how words relate to each other influences their meaning. Knowing how phrases, clauses, and sentences are arranged is essential to the interpretive process. In summary, grammatical interpretation is essential in determining the single meaning of words. To ignore grammatical interpretation will inevitably lead to allegorising or spiritualising of the text.