Are You Ready?
In part one of this series, the reader was challenged to know why he or she is studying the Bible and to think diligently while doing so. One must take it all in and digest the Bible’s knowledge and wisdom so that it becomes a part of who one is. For this to happen, one must do the real work of study. Two intellectual ideas must be accomplished in this vital process. One is more obvious and simple than the other.
The Bible is a Book
This is the first thing that it is necessary to realize. The Bible has a beginning, a middle and an end. It has a plot, a theme, characters, heroes and villains, a purpose, and main ideas. Careful study demonstrates that this marvelous book contains history, wisdom, poetry, songs, action, adventure, sex, violence, drama, humor… It’s got it all and they all become more evident when one accepts that it is a great work of literature.
The various books of the Bible must also be read as books as well. One mustn’t forget that they are an integral part of the larger continuum, but they are best comprehended when studied as individual pieces of literature. Interestingly, when devoured in this way, these individual pieces are understood as a much more coherent whole.
An obvious example for understanding scripture by utilizing its literary constructs can be see in John’s Gospel in which the first 20 verses can be understood as John’s thesis for the rest of his book. Another example can be seen when reading the firs two chapters of Genesis in which this process clearly demonstrates that chapter one stands on its own as an individual account of Creation that is the backdrop to all that follows. When chapter two is laid alongside chapter one, the chronology reveals some interesting results.
Suspend What You Already Know
This is an essential part in studying the Bible for Truth, knowledge, and wisdom; one that is widely overlooked. If one wishes to research the basis of what some one else has said or wrote, that is a good endeavor. However, that is not the point of the type of study that is being described here.
Note, the word is “suspend” and not jettison. Suspend, in this context, means to let the text speak for itself. The reader is encouraged to ask, “What does the text actually say?” Obviously, everyone reads any text with one’s personal history of thoughts and beliefs. There is no way to totally get around that. But it is still an integral piece of this system to try. After all, any Truth will be upheld by diligent study so there is no fear in that regard.
The student must open his or her mind to the text and be informed by it and it alone, paying close attention to its subtle nuances created by such things simple word choices. Noticing a “when” instead of an “if”, for example, can make all the difference in the world. In fact, it is precisely when one discovers these game changing tidbits that this sort of research becomes entirely fascinating for it’s at these times one is faced with a whole new set of questions and one must explore even deeper to examine the lofty implications. The Truth truly will set the student free.
Next, some examples of how this type of study is able to pay some spiritual dividends will be examined. The reader is invited to re-read this post and Part One of this study in the mean time. Also, it should be known that this manner of study has been developed largely in the writing of this blog so all are welcome to read past posts as well to get a feel for the sort of results that can be revealed.