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Monday, March 23, 2015

Conversing with Secondary Sources

There are a couple of things that I emphasize in helping men with Bible study.  First, before you study a book, you should do an overview of that book.  There are several elements to the overview, I won’t go into that now, unless asked, but the main idea is that you know what the book is about before you start digging into the sections and verses.  If you know the thrust of the author’s argument, you are less likely to take something he says out of context.
Conversing with Secondary Sources

The second, is to avoid secondary sources before you finish your study.  Secondary sources are anything that is not the text of the book you are studying.  By the way just because something is printed in your Bible, does not make it the Word of God.  If you have a study Bible there is usually a line at the bottom of the text below which the “study” notes are printed.  For your reference, the text above that line is inspired by God, the stuff below the line is not.  So commentaries, introductions, Wikipedia (the source of all truth), etc. are all secondary sources.

The reason you avoid them, if you have not yet done your study, you are not equipped to evaluate what they say.  Rather, you will more than likely take their position as true.  It will be more difficult to see anything else but their opinion in the text.

With that said, I am just about finished with my overview of Daniel.  Years ago I purchased John F. Walvoord’s, Daniel: The Key to Prophetic Revelation .  It is a commentary.  Walvoord invested most of his life in the study of Biblical prophecy.  While I have had the book for nearly 40 years, I have never read it; still have not.  But, this afternoon I located the book in my library and got it ready for when I need it for this study.

In my study of Daniel this morning, looking at the repetition in the first 4 chapters, and the content of the prophecies at the end of the book, one theme began to emerge, God’s sovereign rule over leaders, wars, politics, the course of history, and the final disposition of this world.

In Daniel the Lord is represented as the one who sets men on the throne as rulers and subsequently removes them.  He is displayed as the one who is in control of the rise and fall of nations.  He is credited with the plan and execution of what will transpire in the future up to and including the end of this world as we know it.  Bottom line, this is His deal, He is calling the shots, He is in control.

I skimmed the first few pages of Walvoord’s book after I found it.  One of the first things he said in his introduction to the book, was in essence identical to what I just said.  I was proud of him for getting it right.

No really.  I had just come that that conclusion, I have the passages marked and can go back and demonstrate from Daniel all I just said.  So when I read what Walvoord wrote, I was in dialog with him.  I was evaluating what he wrote based on what I had studied in the book.  In fact if he had not mentioned that as a theme, I would have wondered what else he might have missed.

So now as I work through the book and finish my overview, I know that I can continue to have a conversation with him.  But that conversation will turn into one of his lectures if I do not do the work first.