ReadBibleAlive.com Front Page
Introduction to 'Frameworks'
Explaining these Pages
This page seeks to give the reader an understanding of this old-but-new approach to Bible reading and Bible study. We have formatted these pages so that they can be easily read on hand-held devices as well as laptops and PCs, as we recognise that these are what many Christians are using today, either to read the Bible or the vast range of spiritual writings now available on line. For the content on the remainder of this page, please click on any of the following titles or simply work you way down the page:
Parts 2-4 explain why we have adopted this approach but if you wish to avoid explanation you may wish to go straight to Part 5 which is the 'how to' Part and then Part 6 which gives you the links to a number of examples.
1. The Nature of this Site
There is nothing sophisticated about these pages as we are more concerned with content than fancy appearance, although the very concept of 'Frameworks' is about appearance or additional content. This site is very basic, free to use, and its author is a retired pastor whose only concern has always been, and still is, to encourage the use of Bible reading and study.
2. Considering the Inadequacy of Modern Layouts
It is our belief that the vast majority of Bible layouts do not serve the new reader well. For example chapter and verse breakdowns were established many centuries ago but for the modern reader, such verse numbers often do not make sense. However we recognise that we have to live with such a standard breakdown as is now found in every Bible.
Now large blocks of writing with an occasional subheading do not help the new reader to easily understand the content. A much greater breakdown with far more headings and brief explanatory notes would enable the reader far more easily to assimilate the text.
We recognise that publishers of hardcopy Bibles have a major problem in that there is such a volume of text in every Bible that it means thin pages or fairly dense reading, and if notes are added, as so many existing Study Bibles show, it makes straight forward reading even more difficult.
As much as we would love publishers to adopt the approach we are suggesting here, we can see that such added layout, headings, notes etc. would suggest that rather than one massive, unwieldy volume, the two testaments would be better produced as two separate books, if not three!
Appearance and ease of use is not something that seems to have been considered or, if it has, has not come up with a suitable answer. However, all these difficulties are done away with when using an online or computer edition as might be possible here.
3. The Problem of Multiple Versions
Christian scholars and the Christian publishing industry have worked to produce a plethora of different translations and paraphrase versions which are now not only in print but easily accessible on the Internet. Because of the fact that they are all translations from the original Hebrew, Greek or Aramaic, there is no such thing as the one true translation. Thus the new reader, when they become aware of the variety of translations and go to do their own study, can easily be confused because, although there is a general sense conveyed by all, when it comes to specific verse meanings, there is often a wide variety of words in the different translations, each of which convey a different nuance.
4. Making your own Layouts and Paraphrase
The approach we are suggesting should perhaps openly reject any claim to scholarship, leaving that to the original translators, but instead convey a sense of this is how the ordinary man or woman in the street tries to make sense of the particular version they use.
In the studies we have produced as samples, we have used the NIV, purely because we have used it for so long and it has gained credibility, although when listening to well-known public speakers, we find the ESV and the NKJV being heralded, and we use them from time to time.
Comparisons of say the Message Version of the New Testament, or the J.B.Phillips Version of the New Testament (both of which we use regularly) reveals that even with so-called paraphrase versions there are clear differences of understanding and so we have not used any reference to these but just produced an even more simple abbreviated understanding for, the ordinary man or woman, of the text they find before them.
Our objective is to provide an approach that ANY reader could adopt on their own. Thus, when we provide our own notes, we are not trying to convince any reader of the meaning of the text, merely suggest that here is a reasonable summary from where we stand, while still adhering to commonly accepted approaches of exegesis. Although for our own private use we have trialled this approach on most of the Bible, to avoid infringing copyright laws we are only placing here on line a few samples (see below) to illustrate the approach. These are, therefore, 'how to' pages rather than 'teaching the content' pages. Our hope is that you may try this approach, become more enthusiastic Bible readers and go on to do further reading and further study.
5. An Old-but-New Approach
For these reasons we are introducing a very simple approach to Bible Study for readers who wish to benefit by reading the Bible and, indeed, studying it in an endeavour to more fully take in what is there. We suggest a simple approach that any reader with a computer, laptop, iPad etc. that carries word processing and has access to the Internet, could carry out for themselves. Although we have said these pages are formatted for multiple device approaches, reformatting and writing within the text will require you to have at minimum an iPad or similar, or a laptop, if not a PC. Here is the 'how-to':
a) Recognise your goal
- to produce an end product that enables you at a glance to see the makeup of a chapter. This will enable you to i) have greater understanding of the structure and ii) to imprint it on your memory more effectively.
- in one sense there is nothing new about this approach as a form of Bible Study. What is different is that you do it within the text.
b) Start with a copy of the Chapter text.
- to work at this you will need to have your preferred version on your word-processing screen.
c) Breakdown the Chapter with Multiple Sub-Headings
- most Bible have very limited subheadings.
- your subheading should describe what follows clearly and succinctly.
- use colour and other formatting devices to make them stand out.
d) Add notes in the text
- these could be 'paraphrases' of the text before you or, if you are able, explanatory notes. In the samples we will point out the style we have used on each one.
- this may sound similar to the notes found in many Study Bibles but the point is that they are read in conjuction with the text AND you are the one having to think through and write them. Thus if you have a paraphrase before the text, when you read both, you have taken in the meaning of the text twice. If you add summary notes at the end of a pragraph or chapter, you are increasing that 'intake'.
e) Observe desired complexity with different styles of writing
Because of the difference between, say, narrative, teaching, prophecy or songs, we have tried different approaches, thus:
- narrative is the most easy to subdivide and may need fewer explanatory notes, and certainly no paraphrases because straight-forward description needs little.
- prophecy needs considerable more attention to meaningfully produce divisions, and both paraphrases and explanatory notes are vital.
- teaching (such as the epistles of the New Testament) benefits from all three devices, but is easier to work on.
- songs tend to be particularly difficult and breaking them up tends to lose the wonder of the cadence and flow.
In each of the samples, at the end of a chapter, we have shown our 'design criteria' for that particular page, i.e. what we have done and why to help you think though what you might do with other chapters.
6. Samples Available
The following are those 'samples' available here online. Although we could add many more examples from our own resources, we hesitate to do that so that we do not infringe copyright.