Category Archives: Helpful Suggestions for Bible Study

Beyond Reading the Bible: A New Podcast

Beyond Reading the Bible: A New Podcast I am excited to announce that my colleague Lindsay Kennedy of mydigitalseminary.com and myself have embarked on a new adventure. We have created a podcast entitled Beyond Reading the Bible. The podcast is designed to help people go deeper in their study of the Bible. Many can sympathize with the experience of the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:26-39). As the eunuch was travelling back home he was reading the prophet Isaiah. The Spirit directed Philip to join himself to…

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Wordplay in the Old Testament

Wordplay in the Old Testament A good wordplay catches the eye and often communicates an effective message with wit and humor. The names of companies such as “Cane and Able Mobility Healthcare,” or “Curl Up and Dye,” the name of a beauty salon in London, capture people’s attention, while at the same time effectively communicating what their business is about. This particular type of wordplay is known as paronomasia. Puns are also favorite devices for communicating ideas with wit and humor. Among the better known…

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Why Genre is Important in Bible Study

Why Genre is Important in Bible Study On October 30, 1938, it was reported that cities across the USA erupted in panic over a dramatic broadcast of H.G. Wells War of the Worlds. Although the broadcast was introduced as a drama, it was conducted as a series of news bulletins without commercial interruption. Some who tuned in late to the broadcast reportedly thought an actual invasion from Mars was taking place! This event is an excellent example of how crucial it is to know what…

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Why Do We Have to Interpret the Bible?

Why Do We Have to Interpret the Bible? Can’t we just take the Bible for what it says? Isn’t it plain enough? Do we really need others to help us interpret the Bible? These questions came home to me this past week when an old friend of mine emailed me about his concern regarding interpretation of the Bible. He was troubled by the existence of many different churches and the various interpretations of Scripture that they represent. He wanted to know why we need anyone…

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Bible Study: Can It Be Spirit-Led and Academic?

Bible Study: Can It Be Spirit-Led and Academic? Let’s face it, many Christians are intimidated by an academic approach to the Bible. In fact, some are very suspicious of an academic approach to Bible study. Doesn’t it leave out dependence on the Spirit? Aren’t academics “know-it-alls,” and full of arrogance? Don’t they reject the inspiration of the Bible? While these questions can sometimes be answered “yes,” I want to plead that it is possible, in fact, necessary for Bible study to be both Spirit-led and…

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Biblical Narrative: How Motifs Enrich a Story

Biblical Narrative: The Use of Motifs A motif is a recurring pattern or design, or a familiar image that is repeated in a piece of writing. In my last post on “Helpful Suggestions for Bible Study,” I focused on the importance of paying attention to the details of a story (you can read that post here). Another detail that is often overlooked in Bible study is the recurrence of motifs within a story, or even a whole book. Biblical narratives commonly use motifs. These motifs…

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Old Testament Narratives: Paying Attention to Detail

Old Testament Narratives: Paying Attention to Detail When it comes to reading and studying Old Testament narratives, paying attention to detail really pays off! It is a rare exception when an Old Testament narrator tells the reader something as explicit as, “But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord” (2 Sam. 11:27). More frequently, a biblical narrator will lead us on a journey of discovery. This method is what Old Testament scholars refer to as “showing” rather than “telling.” Revealing a person’s character…

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Mind the Gap: Guidelines for Gaps in Biblical Narratives

Mind the Gap: Guidelines for Gaps in Biblical Narratives No matter what the story is, or who the storyteller is, it is impossible to give every detail of an event.  This means that there are inevitably “gaps” in every story. It’s great when the person relating the story is there with you because you can always ask questions that help to fill in the gaps. But if the story is written down and it is not possible to contact the author, gaps become more challenging.…

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Identifying the Biblical Narrator’s Voice

Identifying the Biblical Narrator’s Voice What do the biblical books of Genesis, Joshua, 1&2 Kings, Nehemiah, Matthew, John, and Acts all have in common? At the most basic level, they are all narratives––stories about God’s interactions with people. As every reader of the Bible is aware, many other biblical books fall into this same category. Indeed, narrative material composes more than half of the Bible. Even some books whose main genre is something other than narrative (e.g., prophetic books which contain large amounts of poetry),…

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Typology: A Key to Interpreting the Bible

Typology: A Key to Interpreting the Bible Did you know that one way in which the biblical authors sought to communicate God’s truth was by comparing and contrasting various characters and situations? This may seem obvious to a regular Bible-reader, but people are often surprised how frequently this occurs in Scripture and how helpful it can be in interpreting the Bible. This practice has come to be known as “typology” from the Greek word typos. “Typology means that earlier characters and events are understood as…

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