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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Approach

Last week I was in a meeting with a small group of men.  We were to discuss a book we were reading together.  I got there early because I was not finished reading the section of the book we were going to discuss.  I had already scanned the book and knew the overall direction of the author but I had not read completely through the section.  One of the other men came is as I was attempting to finish, he has a PhD and a terrific sense of humor, wears a t-shirt that says “I’m a doctor you can trust me.”
In Bible study - well frankly in any study - it is best to approach a book from its whole, to its parts, and then back to its whole.

He began quizzing me on how I read.  He questioned why I scanned the book before I read it and said that it would be like reading the end of a book or watching the end of a movie for him it would spoil the book.  I countered with having a feel for the overall purpose of the author, especially in a non-fiction work; allow us to better understand the parts of his argument as we work through the details.  We talked more about other aspects of reading but I want to apply that last sentence to how we approach the Scripture.

Like studying or reading a non-fiction book, it is best to approach a book of the Bible by first looking at the book as a whole, then working through the details of each section of the book, and then finally putting what you have learned back together in a summary.  So from the whole, to the parts, and then back to the whole.  Approaching a book in that manner does at least a couple of things for you.  First it reduces the probability that you will jerk some portion of the book out of context and use it in a manner the author did not intend.  Second, rather than trying to figure out what the book is about as you analyze the parts, you already have some idea of the direction of the book and your analysis is now how do the parts support the direction of the book.  The questions you ask of the text are much more effective.

Try it; you will like it.  If you need some help on how to do an overview or analysis of a portion of scripture, let me know and I will send you some ideas.

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