Saturday, March 5, 2011
5 Tips on how to get the most out of your Bible
I received these tips when attending a Bible class a number of years ago, great for those wanting to take the next step in their bible engagement and going deeper into the Word.
1. View the Bible as a library
The Bible is a collection of books written over a period of 1800 years and covers different periods of history, different cultures and was written to different audiences.
The Bible books contain different types of literature which should be approached differently.
If we view the Bible as a library rather than a single homogenous book we will be able to read in context and according to the type of literature. Read narratives as stories, letters as letters, poetry as poetry.
2. Use an appropriate translation
We have a multitude of English translations of the Bible to choose from and we should read from a variety.
Translations are usually:
· Literal – stick very closely to grammar and language of the original language e.g. RSV
· Dynamic – seek to convey the message of the original in contemporary English e.g. NIV, TNIV
· Paraphrase – not a translation but a retelling according to one person e.g. The Message
Choose the translation that best suits your purpose – study, reading for meaning, reading for story
3. Recognise it is not all about you
We can approach the Bible always looking for directions, commands, promises and answers for particular questions we have. Much of the Bible cannot be applied in that way so we may misapply it or allegorise it. The purpose of the Bible is to reveal God and the story of the unfolding of his plan to redeem humanity. The Bible leads us to Jesus, who reveals God’s heart and offers new life in him.
4. Read it actively
Because the Bible reveals God to us, we must read it with attention and purpose so that we may find him. We should read to see what the text actually says rather than what we think it says. We should ask questions – Who? What? When? Where? How?
We should only interpret the text after we understand what it says. We should apply the text only after we know what the author intended the first audience to understand.
5. Read it in light of the cross
We are New Covenant Christians who live after the Cross and day of Pentecost. We read the Old Testament, understanding that things changed dramatically as a result of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection. We are no longer to keep OT ritual and civil law, we have the Holy Spirit indwelling us, and all who put faith in Jesus Christ are the people of God.