Other Related Pages
Observation: Paragraph Titles, Charting, Background, Style, Structure, Integration of Style & Structure, Conjunctions, Structural Laws, Analytical Diagram & Observation Chart, Word Studies, Figures of Speech, Parallelisms
Interpretation: History, Interpretative Phrases
The purpose of these pages is to build up the reader's skills in the study of the Bible through the use of methodical Bible study. He would have the skill to use the Bible, Itself, as his primary tool to study Scripture rather than a commentary. These pages will especially be helpful to someone who has never had formal training in Bible study.
This area of doctrine is beyond the topic of Bible study but is a presupposition in all that follows.
". . . from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 3:15, NASV)."
In Acts 8:26-40, a non-believer, an Ethiopian eunuch, who was reading Isaiah 53:7-8, trusted in Christ and His work on the cross once he understood that the prophecy had been fulfilled in Christ.
"All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17, NASV)."
"And they read from the book, from the law of God, translating to give the sense so that they understood the reading (Nehemiah 8:8, NASV)."
This passage indicates that "laymen" relying on a version (translation) of the Bible successfully understood Its meaning.
There is some controversy about whether the listeners were hearing a commentary or a translation. the exact Hebrew word used is only used here in all of ancient Hebrew literature. According to the Ryrie Study Bible, page 710, Nehemiah was written between 445 and 425 BC. The teaching of Rabbis writing around AD 175-247 was that the listeners heard a translation in Aramaic. There is evidence indicating that Aramaic translations of the original Hebrew were used in Jewish synagogues dating at least to 150-100 BC. Since the Rabbis knew what was taking place in 150-100 BC, as much as 397 years before they wrote, it is not impossible that they also knew what was happening an additional 275 years earlier. Some of this information is from Edwin M. Yamauchi, Ezra-Nehemiah, The Expositor's Bible Commentary, volume 4, page 725. However, Yamauchi reaches a different conclusion.
Jewish exiles returning to their county may not have had opportunity to learn Hebrew because Aramaic was the universal language used in the countries to which they had been exiled.
The NASV translation, that indicates the listeners heard a translation, is probably correct.
"An overseer then must be . . . learned (1 Timothy 3:2, author's translation)."
Other translations say, "apt to teach" instead of "learned." However, the only meaning supported by the actual usages of the word is "learned." Rengstorf also understands the word to mean "learned" (Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, volume 2, page 165).
The local church leader must be learned in the Word because his priority function is ministry of the Word (Acts 6:4).
Thus we can expect that local church leaders and others gifted in the minsitry of the Word can achieve the necessary amount of Biblical knowledge by studying the Bible.
The student may be careless and apply to him promises meant for others (e.g., the apostles).
The emphasis in this method may just be to make the student feel good rather than to get the proper meaning from the text.
This method can degenerate into finding proof texts to prove an understanding brought to the "study."
Robert A. Traina has written a classic on this topic called, Methodical Bible Study. He defines Methodical Bible Study in the following manner: "Methodical Bible study, . . . is concerned with the proper path to be taken in order to arrive at Scriptural truth. More specifically, it involves the discovery of those steps necessary for achieving its goal and their arrangement in a logical and effective manner (page 5)."
Traina also states the characteristics of proper Bible study:
Inductive--". . . it demands that one first examine the particulars of the Scriptures and that one's conclusions be based on those particulars (page 7)."
Direct--". . . the Bible itself and not books about the Bible should be the basic textbook of the Bible student (page 8)."
Literary--"It is . . . necessary that one take into account the literary qualities of the Scripture if one's approach is to be methodical (page 10)."
Psychological--The circumstances of the author need to be understood (pages 10-11).
Constructive--. . . it is imperative that we as Bible students concentrate on what is positive and clear and obviously fundamental (page 11)."
Comprehensive--"Ideally, methodical Bible study should be thorough in two respects: first, in means--every helpful means should be used in the study of Spiritual truth; and second, in scope--there should be a complete mastery of the Scriptures in view of the purpose of each book and of the entire Bible (page 11)."
Sincere--Traina quotes Bengel: "In approaching Scripture one ought 'to put nothing into them, but rather draw everything from them and suffer nothing to remain hidden which is really in them (page 11).'"
Assimilative--"It is essential that the truth discovered in the Bible be thus incorporated into life (page 12)."
Reverent--"Reverence is necessary for two main reasons. First, it makes possible receptivity, and receptivity is essential for understanding spiritual truth. . . . Dullness in Bible study is due to an improper attitude toward the Scriptures and can be overcome only by the development of a true respect for them. . . . Second, it involves a prayerful dependence upon the Spirit of God, without Whom one cannot understand the Word; for He who inspired the Word is also its supreme interpreter (page 13)."
We add to Traina's characteristics that the study of the Bible should be enjoyable (Psalm 119:47, 54, 72, 97, 103, 129, 144, 159).
In preparation for the next session, Paragraph Titles, read the Book of Habakkuk.
These pages on Bible study borrow heavily from Kenneth W. Bowles, A Program for Training Non-Vocational Preachers among the Plymouth Brethren, A Major Project Submitted to the Faculty in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Ministry at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, 1982.
© 2001-2002, Ken Bowles - September 30, 2010, Edition
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