Thursday, September 17, 2009

More Studying the Bible

Before I post a rundown from last Sunday I would just like to say a few things about the purpose of this series. You may have been in attendance last week and thought, "There's no way in the world that I have time, energy, or interest to do what Matt is talking about!" You're right! I don't either! This method of studying the Bible that we have been talking about isn't something that you have to do everyday or even every week (unless you teach a class of interested people like you all!). Also, this method isn't intended to demean or replace reading your Bible devotionally. Instead, studying the Bible in this way is useful for us to know whenever we are curious about something that we read in our quiet times or heard in a sermon. If you are leading a Bible study sometime, following these steps could be helpful for you. And while it may seem time consuming, in practice this won't take you very long if you have the resources at hand (which I assume you do since you are reading this on the internet right now and some of the sources we talked about are online!). So while some of you might have found the last two Sundays a bit daunting, don't worry. No one is asking you to do this all the time! Nope, instead it's just another tool to have in your Batman utility belt so that you can know Scripture better!

Okay, so here's the quick rundown:

After completing the quick and slow readings, you would start by thinking about concentric circles. First, how does your passage fit with those around it? How does it fit in the book that its in? How does it fit with the rest of the NT or OT? How does it fit with the Bible as a whole? These are questions that you can answer on your own. You don't have to read all of John if you are interested in the Miracle at Cana, but you can skim it! The same goes for the NT/OT and the Bible circles. The idea here is to get a hold on how your passage fits with the rest of Scripture.

Next you will whip out your helps (study Bible notes, one-volume commentary, online commentaries, etc). But before starting to read, re-read your notes that you have made so far. This will help you remember what to be on the lookout for when you peruse your helps. Here are some common things that your helps will show you: historical context (who wrote your text, when, why, to whom, what the cultural situation was like, etc), the definitions of important words in your passage, connections with the immediate and wider contexts, how non-biblical stuff might shed some light on your passage, other points of view, and, if your interest has been piqued, other places to find more information.

Here are a few sources that might help you out in this process: How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth (introduction into studying the Bible by two excellent believing scholars), HarperCollins Bible Commentary (a little left of center), Eerdmans Commentary on the Bible (centrist), Baker Commentary on the Bible (right of center), Oxford Annotated Bible (left of center), NIV Study Bible (right of center, NASB Study Bible has the same notes), study notes (really conservative), (collection of links), (collection of links), (collection of links for OT), (helps with geography), (concordance and loads of other stuff too), Google Books, Fuller's bookstore, and Archives Bookshop.

I hope this is helpful!

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