I believe hermeneutics is probably the most important subject someone should learn, even more so for those who believe the Bible is the word of God. This is because it’s the branch of knowledge that deals with interpretation- and it can be applied to writings in any age. So whether you are getting into classical literature, political theory, or biblical interpretation, hermeneutics is the basis for understanding how you understand a text.
We learn from hermeneutics one of the steps to take in getting a better understanding of a writing is finding out as much information about the author as possible, including the time and place they lived in. This helps us gain insight into word usage as the time as well as the political climate. A good example of why we need to know times being written is the word tweet. Before Twitter became what it is today, the word tweet meant something entirely different than what it would mean to someone hearing it today. Understanding what Twitter is and the usage of it in the culture helps someone understand what is being said.
This volume is subtitled ‘A guide for the books you’ve always wanted to read.’ It’s a fitting title. If you are someone that has always been interested in getting around to reading ‘great works’ of literature but you don’t know where to start, this is an amazing resource.
It is essentially a one volume book that discusses authors rather than books. That is great because you will find that authors are many times writers of more than one impactful work. I appreciate that it keeps it brief; it is intended to be an introduction and it succeeds in just that. Each portion spans 2 or three pages, normally with beautiful images, and it ends with suggestions for further reading. It has been one of the books that I take off the shelf often for a quick look for some background information.
Arguably the best part of the book are the essays in the beginning. ‘The Importance of The Classics’ essay really resonated with me in that it talks about how it is not enough to know about the works, but we need to truly know the works themselves. To be able to recall and replay them in your mind, to think through them, to process them in everyday life.
The classics are timeless so they will always be timely. If you think that things written in antiquity have no relevance to today, then you especially need to read them. Again, not just about them, but knowing them well.
This book brings the background of the classical authors in brief, yet valuable ways. Obviously there are resources that may more insight, yet this book captures the introduction level perfectly, as intended. I simply wish there was a kindle version of it as too, so that I could access the information away from my bookshelf.