In How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth, the authors, Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stuart, equip the reader with an excellent guide on how to study each genre of Scripture and read it intelligently. It’s one of my top ten Bible engagement books. Here are some tidbits from the first two chapters:
The Bible is at the same time both human and divine … it is the Word of God given in human words in history.
The Bible … is not a series of propositions and imperatives; it is not simply a collection of “Sayings from Chairman God”.
The single most serious problem people have with the Bible is not with lack of understanding … but obeying it – putting it into practice.
The task of interpretation involves the student/reader at two levels. First, one has to hear the Word they heard … back then and there (exegesis). Second, you must learn to hear that same Word in the here and now (hermeneutics).
Everyone is an exegete of sorts. The only real question is whether you will be a good one.
The key to good exegesis, and therefore to a more intelligent reading of the Bible, is to learn to read the text carefully and to ask the right questions of the text.
There are two basic kinds of questions one should ask of every biblical passage: those that relate to context and those that relate to content.
Literary context means first that words only have meaning in sentences, and second that biblical sentences for the most part only have clear meaning in relation to preceding and succeeding sentences.
Correct interpretation … brings relief to the mind as well as a prick or prod to the heart.
The most important contextual question you will ever ask – and it must be asked over and over of every sentence and every paragraph – is, “What’s the point?”
You can do good exegesis with a minimum amount of outside help … a good translation, a good Bible dictionary, and good commentaries.
Devotional reading is not the only kind one should do. One must also read for learning and understanding.
The true meaning of the biblical text for us is what God originally intended it to mean when it was first spoken.
The trouble with using only one translation … is that you are thereby committed to the exegetical choices of that translation as the Word of God.
© Scripture Union Canada 2016