Posts tagged Bible Study
Guest Blogger: Tom Possin
As a teacher of the Inductive Bible Study Method I am often asked, “What is Inductive Bible Study?”. Unfortunately, there is really no short answer to that question. Inductive Bible Study is more of an approach to the Bible than it is any particular technique. In fact the “Inductive Method” that we teach in the School of Biblical Studies is really a collection of Bible study techniques combined in such a way as to help the student maintain an “inductive posture” toward the text. The shortest description I can give of this approach is this, “Inductive study is an approach to the Bible that helps the student build their conclusions from observations of the text.” In other words – observation first, conclusions second. Sounds simple, but there are complications. To illustrate let me tell a very old folk tale.
The Two Travelers and the Farmer
A traveler came upon an old farmer hoeing in his field beside the road. Eager to rest his feet, the wanderer hailed the countryman, who seemed happy enough to straighten his back and talk for a moment. “What sort of people live in the next town?” asked the stranger.
“What were the people like where you’ve come from?” replied the farmer, answering the question with another question.
“They were a bad lot. Troublemakers all, and lazy too. The most selfish people in the world, and not a one of them to be trusted. I’m happy to be leaving the scoundrels.”
“Is that so?” replied the old farmer. “Well, I’m afraid that you’ll find the same sort in the next town.
Disappointed, the traveler trudged on his way, and the farmer returned to his work.
Some time later another stranger, coming from the same direction, hailed the farmer, and they stopped to talk. “What sort of people live in the next town?” he asked.
“What were the people like where you’ve come from?” replied the farmer once again.
“They were the best people in the world. Hard working, honest, and friendly. I’m sorry to be leaving them.”
“Fear not,” said the farmer. “You’ll find the same sort in the next town.”
-North American Folk Tale (Source uncertain)
This story illustrates many points but the one I think is the most relevant to Biblical study is that people tend to see what they expect to see. Or to put it another way, what people bring to the Bible greatly influences what they take away from the Bible. How do we prevent this? By doing all we can to set aside our preconceived ideas about the text and focus on two things – reading and observation -forgoing judgment until we have thoroughly analyzed the text. We need to learn to let the text speak. We need to let our observations drive our conclusions. Rather than simply taking our conclusions to the text for testing, or worse yet, merely looking for validation of what we already believe or have been told. The text is always right and proper interpretation is defined as what the author meant and what the original readers would have understood. To understand the author and original readers of the text we must first identify them and their issues. This is historical context and it is critical to our understanding of what the text is really saying. Our situation should not even be considered until we understand what was meant when it was written. To sum up, understand what the text says, who wrote it, and as much about the original readers as you can. Careful reading of the text in its proper historical context is the key to proper interpretation.
After we have discovered the meaning in the original historical context we are finally ready to take that giant leap forward in time and culture to our present time and circumstances. By identifying the timeless truths at work under the specifics of the text, we can then begin to ask questions about why these truths are significant today. The timeless truths driving the ancient solutions then become the truths directing our modern applications. By building these disciplines in students it is possible to train them to truly listen to the text each time they read it, rather than simply seeing what they expect to see.
The three main steps of inductive study to remember are these:
- Observation – What the text actually says.
- Interpretation – What the text meant to those to whom it was originally written.
- Application – How do we respond to the timeless truths of the text today?
Text first, original audience second, our perspective last. The Bible was written for us – not to us. Use the clear passages to understand the obscure passages, and most of all pray. And may God enlighten you as you continue to explore his word.
Tom Possin is the Director of the School of Biblical Studies at Youth with a Mission of Montana – Lakeside. He has been a missionary with Youth with a Mission since 1991 and taught the inductive bible study with the School of Biblical Studies since 2002.
From Guest Blogger: Andy Deane, author of Learn to Study the Bible
Studying the Scriptures is supposed to be exciting! That’s why King David tells us in Psalm 119:103: “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” Like me, I hope that you have found this verse to be true. Maybe, like me, you have also discovered that having plain honey multiple times a day can get repetitive. I’m not saying that God’s word becomes boring over time. Actually, it’s quite the opposite. I love that God’s word is so diverse and continues to excite and bless the reader taste after taste. The Scriptures are not to blame if we lose our taste for them. The Bible is designed to be a continual blessing to the believer. But believers may sometimes need to mix up how they study the Scriptures to make sure to avoid the ruts that their method of extracting the honey can bring about. Sometimes when we use the same approach to studying each and every day, the approach can become repetitive. It’s not God’s word that needs new spice, it’s the method of study that needs variety. That is why I wrote Learn to Study the Bible. With forty different ways to study the Scriptures, you always have a fresh way to prepare and digest your daily manna from heaven.
I’d like to share briefly the three ways that I personally enjoy studying the Bible.
FAVORITE VERSE BIBLE STUDY METHOD:
To start, please consider buying a new Bible to use with this method, or at least a new color highlighter. Begin by reading one to four chapters of the Bible a day. Remember that reading one chapter a day will get you through the entire New Testament in a year with one hundred make up days for when you miss a day of reading. Four chapters a day will get you through the entire Bible in a year in less than 25 minutes of reading time. The key is that each day you underline only one favorite verse from each chapter you read. That’s easy when you are in Leviticus but extremely difficult when you are in Matthew! After you are finished reading the entire book, go back and circle one favorite verse from the verses you underlined in the whole book. Write a few sentences in your Bible about why that is your favorite verse for that book. After you’ve read the whole Bible, you’ll have 1,189 favorite verses underlined (one from each chapter) and 66 all-time favorite verses (one from each book). Think about how valuable that Bible will be to you because of this investment. As you turn to any page in Scripture you will remember which verse spoke to your heart the most. You might even consider putting the date next to the verses you choose to connect them to your daily journal to enhance the experience even more. These will become the verses you choose to memorize since they have meaning to you. It’s a simple but fruitful and personal way to study the Bible.
TRANSLATION COMPARISON BIBLE STUDY METHOD
Not every student of God’s word is going to have the blessing of learning the original biblical languages. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t stand on the shoulders of scholars who spend their lives steeped in these languages, and this is the beauty of the Translation Comparison Bible Study Method. Every translation of the Bible represents the understanding and choice of dozens of skilled language scholars. When you see a unique word in a verse, you can be sure an important decision was made to choose that word over another word. This method helps you notice the different word selections that scholars made when creating English translations of the Bible. You’ll also learn how to prayerfully meditate on why these words were chosen over other words and how that can impact your understanding of the text. Learn how to compare Bible translations for spiritual growth and profit by reading a chapter from the book for free by visiting this link: http://www.scribd.com/doc/167983176/Translation-Comparison-Method.
DAILY BREAD BIBLE STUDY METHOD
Sometimes our biggest problem is rushing our reading of a passage of Scripture. If we simply slow down and chew on God’s word then we would be blessed by it. Slowing down is exactly what the Daily Bread Bible Study Method will force you to do. With this method, you’ll learn techniques that invite you to take the time to make sure you’re squeezing all the meaning you can out of the Scriptures. If you’ve struggled with understanding what your pastor means when he tells you to “meditate on God’s word,” then this method is for you. Read another free chapter from the book by visiting http://www.scribd.com/doc/16565590/The-Daily-Bread-Bible-Study-Method.
I hope these three Bible study methods that I use personally will bless you as you experiment with them. Remember that however you mix it up, keep it exciting—don’t let your Bible study time become dull or a duty. I hope you’ll enjoy and use one of these methods, but don’t forget that you should never become devoted to the method—only to the Savior to whom the methods lead!
After you’ve studied the Bible for yourself, it’s often helpful to read trusted Bible scholars to see how they explain the text you’re reading. Commentaries are a great way to do just that and The Bible Study App makes them even more powerful!
Here are a few quick tips on how to get the best experience with commentaries in The Bible Study App (screenshots are taken from an iPad 2).
Open your preferred Bible translation in the main window and have the Resource Guide open in the split window. You’ll see relevant commentary “hits” in the split window.
(click on the images for a larger view)
The Bible Study App also keeps up with the scripture passage you’re reading in the main window with sync scrolling. This means that as you move along in the Bible text, your commentaries sync to exactly where you are in your study. No more flipping pages back and forth. No more holding the commentary text open on your desk in one spot, reading through your Bible text, and having to go back and find your place in the commentary. You’ll save an enormous amount of time with this feature alone.
Comparing Commentaries within the Resource Guide
Not only does the Resource Guide keep up with you in one commentary, it keeps track in ALL of your commentaries. This makes comparing multiple commentaries easy. In this example, I’ve got the Boice Expositional Commentary Series, Thru the Bible Commentary series, Understanding the Bible Commentary Series, The Preacher’s Commentary Series, and the Zondervan Bible Commentary all showing “hits” from the Matthew 12:1-8 passage I’m studying.
With hard copies, I would have to go and find this passage in each commentary and then compare. With the Bible Study App, the Resource Guide keeps track of where I am. All I have to do is tap the book cover and it lists out the relevant sections of the commentary for me. I then tap the section that interests me and The Bible Study App takes me exactly to that place in the commentary.
To see what each commentary says about the passage in my main window, I just tap the “back” button and The Bible Study App will take me back to the “hits” list. I then follow the same process as I did before to read my secondary commentary resource. This is especially helpful if I’m comparing more technical, research-driven commentaries versus more devotional/pastoral commentaries.
Comparing Commentaries in the Main and Split Windows
Another handy way to compare commentaries on a specific passage is to place one of my commentaries in the main window. I then open the resource guide in the split window. Since commentaries are based on the biblical text, the resource guide searches my library for relevant content. This means that I can check other commentaries for comparison and see what other scholars have said about the passage I’m studying.
Putting your commentary in the main window will also allow you to search your commentaries for words or passages. Take “Sabbath” as our example. You can search the entire commentary series for where “Sabbath” is mentioned. You can also limit your search to the Old Testament, New Testament, biblical genre, or a specific book.
When your search hits are displayed, you can tap on the result to go directly to that passage. You can also copy the text to add to an existing note or add a note right from the search results.
As above, I can open the resource guide and see results from all my commentaries and other resources on my device.
Linked Reference Pop ups
One of my greatest frustrations in the hard copy world of biblical commentaries are the other biblical references within the commentary. For example, when I’m reading in Matthew about Jesus being Lord of the Sabbath, there are references to the Old Testament that I want to understand. With a hard copy, I have to open a different Bible and find each and every reference to read how the verse relates to what I am currently studying. This is time consuming, slows down my study momentum, and requires me to keep all of my study materials out and open, spread out over a large desk space. With The Bible Study App, the scripture references are hyperlinked within the commentary text. All I have to do is tap the scripture reference to read it instantly.
As you can see, using commentaries within The Bible Study App gives you the best in scholarly work while saving you valuable study time and tremendous effort.
When I first heard about the Archaeological Study Bible, I wasn’t sure what to think. My initial thought was how could there be an entire Bible devoted to archaeological study? And honestly, how could a study Bible devoted to archaeological study not be a snoozer? So, I got a copy of the Archaeological Study Bible and began looking through it. Wow, was I impressed (and wrong)!
The Archaeological Study Bible is a great resource. There are 520 articles covering five main categories: Archaeological Sites, Cultural and Historical Notes, Ancient Peoples and Lands, the Reliability of the Bible, and Ancient Texts and Artifacts. The Bible Study App enriches the Archaeological Study Bible. As you read through your Bible, the split screen and resource guide keep you synced with your reading.
Here’s an example of an article on the Zealots and Essenes (screenshots from an iPad, click images to enlarge):
Also included are almost 500 full-color photographs throughout the text. Here’s two examples:
Throughout the text there are detailed charts like this one:
At the end of the Archaeological Study Bible there are several maps that help you get an idea of the placement of biblical events:
The authors of the Archaeological Study Bible also included detailed book introductions for every book of the Bible. Other study tools include a glossary, extensive concordance and several indexes to help you find articles relevant to your study.
The Bible Study App enhances this resource when articles reference other articles within the Archaeological Study Bible. By tapping or clicking on the hyperlink, you can go directly to the related article, view in the Split Window, or view it in a Popup screen.
As you can see, you can spend hours learning the historical background of the Bible and the settings in which biblical events took place. The articles and pictures will give you insights into the Bible and make you feel like you could have been there.
By using The Bible Study App’s cross references and quick reference titles enhanced for the resource guide, you’ll save tons of time and effort. No longer will you have to leave your original text to search for a reference. All your content will be at your fingertips!
Here’s how we’ve enhanced these resources (screenshots are from the Windows Desktop App):
Bring up your preferred Bible translation in the main window. (I have the New Living Translation open to Romans 12:1 in this example.) Click the split window button at the top right of the screen.
Click and hold to adjust the split window to your desired size. Next, click “Tools & Notes” to see the drop-down menu and choose “resource guide.” Please note that the split window opens to the last place that you had viewed, so if you were last in the library, the screen will default back to the library.
The resource guide keeps up with me as I scroll through the Bible text and searches through the books in my library for content related to the Scripture passage in the main window.
You’ll see that the resource guide has found related Bible content in the “Content” section. (click image for larger view)
I can click the cross reference related to “a living” (Hebrews 10:20 in this case) and a pop-up window will appear. This means that I don’t have to leave my place in Romans 12:1 to read the related verses. I can also click the pop-out button to view the related content in a new window.
If you scroll a little further down the split window, you’ll find the “Related Verses” section. Since I have the Treasury of Scripture Knowledge (TSK) downloaded to my PC, The Bible Study App has found related content in this resource. The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge is the best known and most widely used collection of 500,000 Scripture references and parallel passages.
In our example, you’ll see that there are 49 related verses in the TSK from the Romans 12:1-17 passage we’re studying. By clicking on the TSK book cover, I can view each set of cross references that correspond to each individual verse from my passage in Romans.
Like before, I can click the reference in the TSK and view it in a new window without leaving my original text. This feature alone will save you hours.
Now, let’s turn our attention to quick references. In the resource guide in the split window, scroll down to view “Places,” “Maps,” “Outlines,” and “Introductions.” All quick reference content will be displayed in these sections. In our example, after clicking “Rome” under “Places,” the resource guide shows me that I have two images available in my library. I can click these images to see a larger view or even view them within the resource from which the content is found, the Holman QuickSource Guide to Understanding the Bible.
I can also see that there are Outlines and Introductions available in MacArthur’s Quick Reference Guide to the Bible and other resources that have related content.
By clicking the book covers for these resources, I can see all of the results within that resource for the Bible passage. In this example, I can see that there are three entries under introductions in MacArthur’s Quick Reference Guide to the Bible. Click the article or reference and I can read the content in the resource. Again, any Scripture verse becomes a hyperlink that I can view within the resource guide.
This is how cross references and quick references are enhanced in The Bible Study App. What are some ways that you’ve utilized this feature to deepen your Bible Study?
The Voice Bible is a faithful dynamic equivalent translation that reads like a story with all the truth and wisdom of God’s Word. Through a collaboration of more than 120 biblical scholars, pastors, writers, musicians, poets, and artists, The Voice recaptures the passion, grit, humor, and beauty that is often lost in the translation process. The result is a retelling of the story of the Bible in a form as fluid as modern literary works, yet remaining painstakingly true to the original manuscripts.
Information added to help contemporary readers understand what the original readers would have known intuitively
Commentary notes include cultural, historical, theological, or devotional thoughts
Screenplay format, ideal for public readings and group studies
Here’s a video from publisher Thomas Nelson to give an example of The Voice in Luke 11:
Now through July 22 you can get The Voice Bible for 40% off the regular price.