How to Study the Bible

A Practical Bible Guide for Beginners

magnifyOne of the hardest things for a person who grew up in the congregation is to actually read what the Bible says. To often we look at a passage and say to ourselves “Oh, I know what that means.” But do we? Does it really say what we have been taught to think it means? The hardest thing for someone who did not grow up in the congregation is just the plain disorganized weirdness of the Text.

As we set out on our endeavor to try to do is read the whole Bible for ourselves sometime it is very helpful to look up a program on reading the Bible chronologically the first time. This will at least start to get things in order in your mind. However if you read just three chapters a day you will manage to read the whole Bible in just one year. The One Year Bible 

The next thing is to make a time line. Don’t just buy one or get it off the internet but sit down and make it for ourselves. That way we will know where the dates came from. Then we can begin to get a handle on how far apart events really are. You will need something long enough for 6000 years of history.

FYI: When one gets beyond 1000 BC the archaeologist come in two opinions the minimalist who are about 200 years off and the Maximalist who follow standard Bible dating.  The minimalist stand out as having Ramses the Great as the Pharaoh of the Exodus where the maximalist (who can add) know that it would have been Tuthmose III.

When people ask me what Bible translation to use I advise the Harper Study Bible. Its notes are fair and unbiased. It is however an RSV i.e. Revised Standard Version, which does mean that it was translated by liberal scholars who did not believe that the Bible is the authoritative Word of God. However! They were scholars and many of them also worked on or where very familiar with the International Critical Commentary. This means that anytime there is a variant in the translation one can look up WHY in the Commentary. No other translation that provides such easy explanations of why there is a variant.

FYI: An example: there is no commentary on the KJV that explains why in Song 7:4 there are fish in the pools, there are no fish mentioned in the Hebrew or the LXX.

There also a Bibliography on this Blog for the basic books you will need to study. This is so much easier now with computers. Many of these standard works are available online free. So you won’t have to spend a small fortune on the books we needed for college.

Always be willing to look things up.  When I was a teenager long ago and far away.  I sat in on a study on The Revelation, the teacher said that “if we only knew what the Babylonian Mystery Religion was, we will know who the Antichrist is.”  Being the curious kind I went home and look this up in my parent’s Encyclopedia Britannica.  It said “see mystery religions”.  There was a full page in the index of articles on all kinds of mystery religions, most of them starting out with some statement of how the “mystery” in question started in Babylon.  It was clear to me the teacher was under-informed by choice. This information was not hard to find. It was in the Encyclopedia.

It is quite easy to figure out what happened to the mysteries and who’s in charge of them.  But thats our other other Blog.

The simple conclusion is that it our own personal souls that are at steak. The teachings of others must always be put to the test of the Scriptures.

For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Matt. 16:26

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