Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Brief Outline of Bible Study Tips and Links Updated 16.09.12

These embedded links below are to free stuff that is online.  These have been helpful resources for me even though I don't necessarily agree with everything or endorse the organization that makes it available.  Check out the website (doctrinal statement, links, sponsoring person or organization, etc.) or Google the person to find out more about them. The important thing is that you understand the perspective and orientation of the source. Be aware of who you are using.  
Precepts Austin has a lot of links to resources in all categories and has helpful information about how to study the Bible.  The Bible Hub also has a collection of translations and tools.
I usually have a five-step approach to commentaries and study tools.
First, I become familiar with the passage.  I look at the larger context by looking at the general setting and reading the passage before and after the one I am focusing on.  Then I read my specific verses several times.  I continue to read the passage in several versions that include more formal or literal translations (Young’s Literal, KJV, RSV, NASB) and some of the more dynamic translations and paraphrases (like the NIV84, Wuest, NET Bible, Amplified, New Living, and The Message).  I like to compare them verse by verse from literal to dynamic making note of the variations.  
Second, I use linguistic/language tools and commentaries to clarify the meaning of the grammar and words.   

 Great Treasures allows you to see the kjv, nasb, esv, and niv84 side by side.
Third, I also check cross references and cultural resources to better understand the meaning of the text.  I will typically focus on places where there was greater variation between the translations.  I also like to study parallel passages and allusions the New Testament makes to the Old Testament.  During this phase, I am making notes about questions I have about the passage meaning.

Fourth, I will refer to a variety of commentaries to get the insights of knowledgeable men on the passage.  I have my favorites, but I try to check commentators from more that one perspective.  It both allows me to see original arguments for the other side of an issue and, most importantly, enrich my understanding and perspective on the passage.  I work from more objective to ones that comment on more subjective aspects of the text.  “Healthy skepticism” are the watchwords when referring to commentaries.

Finally, I will sometimes refer to commentators with a more devotional and application bent.  They are usually not as helpful for dissecting the meaning of the text but help me think about how the passage applies to everyday living.  Sermons by accomplished preacher are also good for that, and they give helpful ideas for presenting the passage if you are going to have to teach.
 Web sites tend to come and go, so I hope none of these links go to the wrong place.

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