Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Five Reasons to Study the Bible

Yesterday, I posted "Five Reasons to Read The Bible."  Reading The Bible will be a richly rewarding experience.  However, after you read it, I highly recommend studying The Bible.

What's the difference?  Reading will expose you to a great deal of information as well as answer major questions.  Reading as fast as good comprehension allows will give you the broadest picture of the entire collection of events.  But proper studying will increase your depth of understanding.

And so, here are five reasons to study The Bible:

  1. Character's motives and methods will be revealed:  In many Bible stories, the characters come across as rather stilted or two-dimensional.  But that's not the case.  The problem is that there wasn't a whole lot of writing paper in ancient times.  So, most stories are whittled down to "He said, She said" dialogue.  Motives must then be derived from your knowledge of general human nature and the culture of the day.  Studying on these things will bring a clearer picture to biblical passages.
  2. Even Symbolic words will have more meaning:  Isaac is drieved from the phrase, "He makes me laugh."  Moses is derived from the phrase, "I drew him out of the water."  But there is more to it than that.  Once you know what "Isaac" means, you will begin to see the word "laughter" throughout that section of Genesis.  Once you study a little more about Egipt, you discover that "Moses" is also Egyptian for "son of" and you begin to wonder if Pharoah's Daughter didn't have a double meaning to her new son's name.
  3. Small things will take on enormous significance:  Here are a few questions to highlight this point.  Why does Eve tell the serpent, "If we touch that tree (of the knowledge of good and evil), we'll die?  Is that what God told Adam?  Why does Cain hate Abel?  Why does God get upset when Israel makes treaties with other nations?
  4. You'll learn more about cultures:  If you learn a little about ancient cultures, some differences are magnified.  Ancient Egyptians were very racist, that's why they put the Hebrews in the land of Goshen.  And this was a good thing.  But why?  You'll need to pay close attention to the lives of Isaac and Jacob to get your best clues.
  5. You'll wind up with more questions:  Jewish rabbis are almost famous for telling their students, "It's good to have the right answers.  But it's better to have the right questions."  If you study The Bible, your answers will lead to more and better questions.
There are several study guides and materials available online and at Christian bookstores.  Many commentaries merely regurgitate the stories and events you've just read.  You need to search for ones that explain background material such as a) how the passages were translated, b) what the cultural/legal influences were, and c) what the commentary author thinks about the passage.  My suggestions are Exposition of Genesis, by H. C. Leupold and commentaries written by Orthodox Rabbi David Fohrman.  Both men offer excellent insight to passages.  You might disagree here and there, but you'll still wind up with better questions of your own.

Tomorrow, I'll discuss Hermeneutics.  And no, Hermeneutics is not the study of Herman Munster.  I don't care what psych's Shawn Spencer says.


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