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Monday, September 28, 2020

A Disciple’s Guide to Bible Study

Blessed Lord, who hast caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning; Grant that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by patience and comfort of thy holy Word, we may embrace, and ever hold fast, the blessed hope of everlasting life, which thou hast given us in our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Alice C. Linsley

There are different approaches to Bible study. Some are more formal than others. One approach is called topical study. Topics of special importance include faith, healing, and justification.

Devotional Bible reading is motivated by the desire to draw closer to God and find strength for daily life. In this approach certain passages may speak to the individual, providing encouragement, correction, and direction. 

Another approach involves the study of biblical figures. A popular take on this is a study of "Women in the New Testament" or "Lives of the Prophets."

In a sense these are short cuts to gaining an understanding of the Bible. The best way to gain a thorough knowledge is to read the Bible from cover to cover three times using three different recensions such as the King James (Authorized Version); the New International Version, and the New Jerusalem Bible. This is the best way to become formed and informed by Holy Scripture.

In general there are two ways to read the Bible. They are called "eisegesis" and "exegesis." Eisegesis involves reading meaning into a text and often leads to subjective and private interpretations that might not be universally accepted in the Church.
Exegetical Bible study draws meaning from the text. This is a more scholarly way to read the Bible and requires checking reliable sources such as commentaries and the writings of the Church Fathers. Sloppy exegesis can lead to misunderstanding and misrepresentation of the biblical material.

The following template provides a way to get started, but each person must find what works best for them.

Prepare a space where you will be comfortable. Have the Bible and a notebook or journal ready.

Thank God for the written Word and ask the Holy Spirit to guide your study.

Pick a chapter or short passage and read it once aloud and once silently.

Make observations: who, what, where, when and why?

Explore the meanings of unfamiliar words.

Consider how the reading applies to your life and situation.

Record your thoughts in the notebook or journal.

Close in prayer. Your prayer should include confession, thanksgiving, requests, and intercessions for others.

Related reading: Formed and Informed by the Bible; The Veracity of Holy Scripture; Pursuing Truth as Persons of Faith; Why an Empirical Approach to the Bible?

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