Robert Plummer’s new book, 40 Questions about Interpreting the Bible (Kregel, 2010) is simply excellent.

For most books on biblical interpretation, I’d want to qualify the recommendation by specifying the target audience. (For example, seminarians should probably buy Grant Osborne’s The Hermeneutical Spiral but it’s probably not a good text for most Sunday School classes. On the other hand, Nigel Beyon and Andrew Sach’s new Dig Deeper: Tools for Understanding God’s Word is very helpful for a lay level but wouldn’t be used as a seminary course textbook. [For more on this one, see this interview by Josh Harris.)

But Dr. Plummer—who teaches at Southern Seminary—has managed to produce something pretty unique here. I’d recommend it for virtually all Christians: laypeople, parents, pastors, and professors. If I were teaching a Sunday School, college, or even seminary class, I’d make this required reading (though obviously the higher the level of class the more supplemental reading would be required).

I can see a lot of folks using this as a one-stop introductory resource on questions of text, canon, translation, inerrancy, Christ-centered interpretation, application, genre, etc. Pastors in particular: this is a very good resource for producing concise, excellent answers for most of the questions people ask about matters of the Bible.

The section on “Issues in Recent Discussion” also concisely and helpfully covers issues like speech-act theory, “theological interpretation of Scripture,” and other issues.

Quite simply, this is the best introductory book on biblical interpretation I’ve yet seen. I highly recommend it.