|Series Theme: Bible Study Approaches|
Title: 1. Bible Study Beginnings
A page that explains a variety of approaches to Studying the Bible
This is an introductory page for any who wish to think about Studying the Bible. It leads on to other pages that suggest specific methods of study.
Who is this page for? Anyone interested enough to come here with a view to Studying the Bible. But please be warned - what is on this and the linked pages are only tools. The Bible will only start coming alive when you actually use the tools.
2. Why Read the Bible?
Several reasons can be suggested:
1. It is inspired and given by God.
This is a basic Christian belief, and if it is true then it is certainly worth your time and energy to look into it.
2. It tells about God.
It is testimony given over at least a two thousand year period, of the dealings of God with mankind. Again, if this is true then it is worth your effort to study it and find out what it is saying.
3. It tells about Mankind.
It contains probably THE most accurate description of the state of mankind that you will find anywhere. If we want to know who we are, why we're like we are, and what hope there is for us, then we need to read this book!
An alternative approach to answer the question, might be as follows:
4. It FEEDS me.
Sometimes it is excellent, sometimes it seems ordinary, but whenever you come with an open heart to God, you'll find the Bible feeds your spirit.
5. It GUIDES me.
Not always, but frequently, if I come with an open heart to God through the Bible, I find guidance and direction for my life.
6. It TEACHES me.
Whenever I come with an open heart it informs me and increases my knowledge and understanding, changes my outlook on life, challenges and correct me.
3. How do I come with an Open Heart?
Second, it means that you come seeking God, and if you're going to do that, you will be wise to pray first and ask Him to help you understand what you read.
Third, it means that you will take time and resolve not to rush, but go through it carefully.
4. Critical or Questioning?
We said above that if you come critically you will get nothing, but that doesn't mean you don't come questioning.
When you come 'questioning' you ask yourself questions of the text to find out what it is really saying, and you'll see that various ways of study we'll suggest involve you asking questions.
If, on the other hand, you come with a critical attitude to start with, that means you are simply coming to find fault.
An enquiring or investigating mind comes openly and says, "I don't understand that. What does it mean?"
A critical heart says, "This is stupid, I don't understand this!" and gives up in a bad attitude, not realising that that says more about them than it does about the Bible.
5. What Version of the Bible to Use
There are many versions of the Bible. There are translations and paraphrases.
A translation seeks to convey as accurately as possible the meaning of the original language (the Bible was written mainly in Hebrew and Greek).
A paraphrase simply seeks to convey the general sense rather than specific direct translation of individual words or sentences.
Perhaps the most commonly used translation today is the "New International Version", although there are a variety of other English versions available.
Perhaps the most best known of the paraphrases are "The Living Bible" and "The Message".
For easy reading to catch the general sense, use a paraphrase. For detailed study to consider as nearly as possible what was being said, use a translation.
6. The Depth of Approach
When you open your Bible there are a variety of ways you can go about finding out what is there:
This is simply going non-stop through a passage, chapter, or book, to catch the overall sense of what is there. The danger of silent reading is that your mind can wander and when you get to the end of the passage, you wonder what you have read!
To counter this try reading out loud. This has the added advantage that you have to pay particular attention to punctuation etc. to really catch the meaning, and as you hear yourself saying the words, you will find you understand more what is there on the page.
This is going through the passage, chapter or book, carefully noting exactly what you are reading and what it is saying. This is slower but usually far more satisfying, as the passage starts to come alive to you as you begin to understand the implications of what is infront of you.
This is slowly taking a small passage and chewing it over in your mind to see the implications of it, and letting it even more fully expand your spiritual understanding.
This sounds like old fashioned school, but the usefulness of memo rising Scripture is that you can then pull it out of your memory whenever you want, and apply it to situations before you, when you may not have a Bible at hand. As you memorize Scripture you realise that it also increases your understanding of it.
7. And So
Well there you are. That's just a very simple outline of some basic bits and pieces. remember, this series is about DOING Bible Study. If you want to know why you can trust the Bible and something of its background you might want to go to our series on The Reliability of the Bible.
If you are ready to move on go back to the Contents page and click on the second one of these pages which will give you some more specific things to look for as you approach a Bible passage.