Study methods

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by JonC δοῦλος, Feb 2, 2016.

  1. JonC

    JonC
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    Recently there was a thread asking for suggestions regarding biblical commentaries. I was just wondering what role you believe is appropriate for commentary within personal biblical studies.

    My position is that before one thinks of picking up a commentary that person needs to have prayerfully read through the passage and considered it enough to have formed an opinion or interpretation. Then and only then is it appropriate to examine commentaries for interpretation or explanation. And even here it is better to carefully consider the different understandings of a few godly scholars rather than adopt the thoughts of a favorite commentator, preacher, or pastor.

    My reasoning is that men are fallible and prone to error. The Holy Spirit unveils truth, but even godly men see through the glass dimly. If we were to start with commentary then we predisposition ourselves to a particular position or view. If I tell you that the ink blot is a bat, then it will always be difficult but to see the bat in the blot.

    Another issue along these lines is how we study Scripture. I am always amazed at the care and detail some to spend researching their favorite hobby, or memorizing sports stats, but when it comes to the Word of God they approach unprepared believing that the Holy Spirit will somehow make up for their lack of discipleship. The Spirit reveals and unveils what God has revealed through Scripture. But we are commanded to diligently search Scripture, to meditate upon God’s Word, and to devote ourselves to biblical doctrine.

    So, what are your recommendations for someone who is just starting their journey? How would you recommend that they begin studying God’s Word?
     
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  2. Deacon

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    First, I'd recommend the beginner find their passion.
    • What interests them?
    • What are they curious about?
    • What do they have questions about?
    Begin studying a bible book that you desire to learn from.

    How do I study?

    I teach a weekly bible class and a Wednesday bible group (same general lesson, twice during a week). I teach for 45 minutes on Sunday mornings and a little more than an hour on Wednesday evenings.

    I alternate teaching books with a co-teacher. This provides some time (generally a few months) for independent study and research of the next book I'll teach.

    How do I prepare?

    1. Read the entire book a couple of times.
    2. Attempt a simple outline.
    3. Find the theme(s) of the book and coordinating doctrinal passages.
    4. Identify problem passages for further research
    5. Read as many modern commentaries as I can.
    6. I ponder passages during any spare time – my poor unsaved coworker/friend has heard many a preliminary Sunday School lesson as I work though it.

    During the periods when I teach, I will re-read the passage a few times, go over my notes, and develop an outline of what I want to teach that week. I've got only two or three days between classes.

    Sometimes the ideas will flow from various commentaries; more often the commentaries will simply confirm that what I'm teaching is sound.

    A new Christian or a beginning bible student could follow a similar path to studying.

    Rob
     
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  3. JamesL

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    I think that depends on where someone is starting from:
    A false form of "orthodox" Christianity?
    A heretical Christianity?
    Other religion?
    No religious influence?

    Any of these would have influenced the new believer's mind to the point that they should probably not start out alone
     
  4. JonC

    JonC
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    Good point, brother. Our needs may also depend on the barriers and misunderstandings that we could carry into biblical study.
     
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  5. Van

    Van
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    Excellent thread. Some of the study tools I use are:
    1) An English Dictionary
    2) A NASB Study Bible
    3) An Exhaustive Concordance
    4) I use an on-line Interlinear
    5) I use on-line lexicons
    6) Two different Bible Dictionaries​
     
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  6. JamesL

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    When I became a believer, it was out of a hodgepodge of misunderstanding and heresy. There were elements of influence from Mormonism, JWs, RCC, CoG, Nazarene, and others, while being raised thinking I was Missionary Baptist.

    Not only was I lacking any kind of proper instruction, there was blatant heresy involved concerning the deity of Christ, the nature of resurrection, etc.

    The issue I struggled with most heavily was eternal security. I had no assurance, because it was posited as determined by my works.

    For me to begin, there was nobody better than Sproul. I listened to him on the radio, explaining justification in a way I needed it.

    Then Joseph Dillow's "Reign of the Servant Kings" was immensely helpful.

    After that I was ready for a single-volume commentary, Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Commentary.

    Honestly, I needed my hand held in the beginning. I was not anywhere near ready to think for myself
     
  7. Kevin

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  8. Revmitchell

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    The best way is the inductive way.

    1. Observation
    2. Interpretation
    3. Application

    Anyway commentaries are great for background info. After all of that if understanding the passage eludes you then find a few good authors that you trust to glean from. More important than all of that pray.
     
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  9. Kevin

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    Why was the rest of my post deleted, I don't think there was anything that could have been considered the least bit controversial? Frown
     
  10. Greektim

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    Can you explain what is the difference between observation and interpretation? I've often found this method to create spurious opinions rather than getting behind the text. People come with so many presuppositions that their observations and interpretations are usually silly. And many if not most go straight to application which is less than helpful.

    I also find it interesting that people on here don't talk much about asking or conversing with someone else on the issue or sitting under a teacher/pastor/elder. God has provided the church w/ knowledgeable people. Why not make better use of them?

    I've seen lay people abuse Scripture so much, I'm half way considering the idea of chaining the Bible back to the pulpit. I admit I tend to be a snob when it comes to this kind of thing. But this postmodern nonsense that all opinions are valid is a heaping pile of skubalon (look it up). I abhor the idea "they don't care how much you know until they know how much you care." Since I care about the truth, then I care more about "how much you know".
     
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  11. JonC

    JonC
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    This is generally how I teach scripture.

    Sent from my TARDIS
     
  12. Revmitchell

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    Most in the pew go straight to application more times than not. I am working to change that in my church. In fact right now on Wednesday evenings I and teaching this very thing.

    First thing is to pray.

    Observation requires discovering facts about the text without trying to interpret the text. It means reading and re-reading the text a good number of times. I generally stick to about ten times unless I feel I have been in the passage enough. The point is to get familiar with the text. Then I teach them to ask questions about the text i.e. who, what, where, when, why, and how. Not all questions can be answered always in every passage. Sometimes a full understanding of the answers require a reading before and or after the text.

    The next thing is to pray.

    Interpretation requires discovering context. We are looking for the intent of the author. We need to understand the genre of the passage. Discovering the theme of the book as a whole. Interpreting in a literal fashion. Compare this passage to other passages similar to it. Re-reading passages before and after it. Novices may want to check their conclusions with multiple commentaries. Obtaining background info can be gleaned from them as well. This will help provide context.



    This should be occurring through the preaching and small groups.

    I agree wholeheartedly.


    Well the only context I have heard that phrase used is in evangelism and in that I agree with it.
     
  13. JonC

    JonC
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    The worst thing I hear (although not very often anymore) when a passage is read is " what does that mean to you?". It is difficult to convince some that what matters is not what a passage means to them but what it actually means.



    Sent from my TARDIS
     
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  14. grits4jesusfl

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    Oliver B. Green, J. Vernon McGee and James Knox have commentaries that are practical yet in-depth.

    Sent from my SGH-T399 using Tapatalk
     
  15. Van

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    Commentaries are important tools, but I think self study, is more important than reading what others got out of a passage. And the more you study, the easier it gets.
     
  16. Martin Marprelate

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    As part of my church 50th Anniversary celebrations, we d a talk on 'Grappling with the Bible'-getting the most out of private Bible Study. The speak was David Jackman.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Jackman_(minister).

    The talk should be available on the web in a few days, and I will post a link to it along with Jackman's study notes. The talk was aimed at pew level- ad populum rather than ad clericum- but I think it may be helpful to many on this board.
     
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  17. Van

    Van
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    'The best way is the inductive way.

    1. Observation
    2. Interpretation
    3. Application " ​

    Observation refers to attempting to discern what the author was saying to the original audience.
    Interpretation refers to attempting to discern what timeless principles applicable today are being taught.
    Application refers to applying those timeless principles (if any) to our lives, such at we are transformed rather than just informed.
     
  18. Martin Marprelate

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    I hope you have paid Revmitchell his copyright fee.
     
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  19. Martin Marprelate

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    The talks by David Jackman are now up on my church's website
    http://www.scottdrivechurch.org.uk/services-and-sermons.html
    Here are the lecture notes. I don't think they will be very much help if you don't listen to the talks:

    Talk 1. Key Principles
    1. Take the Bible seriously.

    (a) 2 Tim. 3:14-4:2.
    (b) Col. 1:24-29.
    (c) 2 Tim. 1:7, 15.

    2. Recognize the way it works.
    (a) 2 Peter 1:16-21 & 1 Cor. 15:3.
    Event + Explanation = Revelation.
    (b) Scripture interprets Scripture.....don't impose your own framework.

    3. Stay on the Line!
    'The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.'
    The dangers of scepticism and fanaticism.

    4. Focus your Understanding.
    (a) What does the passage say?
    - look for surprises and difficulties ("that seems odd!")
    - words matter (Matt. 4:1)
    -order matters (Phil. 3:10)
    (b) What does the passage signify?
    - why does it say this?
    - why to these hearers/readers?
    - why in this way/these words?
    Examples: Acts 10:42-43; John 2:11; James 2:26.
    (c) How does the passage apply?
    - the pastoral intention
    - the practical implications.

    Talk 2. Sharpening Skills

    1. Identify the sort of literature (genre) you are reading.

    (a) Narrative- the turning point is the teaching point.
    (b) Prophecy- the three points of fulfilment.
    (c) Poetry- the affections are engaged.
    (d) Epistles- the persuasive argument.

    3. Set the text in context.
    (a) Its surrounding verses- Romans 8:28; 1 Cor. 10:13.
    (b) Its larger book context- 1 Cor. 13:4-7; Mark 8:22-26.
    (c) the still larger whole Bible context- Heb. 3:7 - 4:2. Mark 6:30-44.
    Understanding what it meant to 'them then' provides application for 'us now.'

    4. Relate the part back to the whole.
    (a) The melodic line or theme tune of each book.
    - Isaiah 1:21-26 and 65:17-19; 66:10-12.
    -Rom. 1:1-6 and 16:25-27.
    -Jude 3-4 and 24.

    (b) See how the section contributes to the whole.
    - Matthew 4:23 - 9:35.
    - John 20:24-31.
    (c) Remember that the Bible is God's book about God first and foremost.
    Pray for mind, heart and will to respond.
     
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  20. Revmitchell

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    Uh, you have observation, interpretation, and application all confused.
     
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