A couple of years ago I wrote about using Search the Scriptures (StS) as a part of my daily Bible reading regimen. Between April and June 2021 I used StS when reading the first nine chapters of Luke across 25 daily studies, and the first 26 chapters of Genesis across 19 studies. At the time I quite appreciated the discipline of answering specific questions based on the passage. I will often make notes on passages I read but this may take the form of observations about the text, or some historical or contextual information.
A couple of months ago I mentioned that I was reading in the early part of Luke’s gospel using Search the Scriptures to guide my reading and questions. I’ve since completed that, done some reading/studying in 1 Peter using a different method and have recommenced Search the Scriptures reading in Genesis. In just the second week of readings from Luke I came across three instances where the Bible text didn’t accord with what I been told it meant over the years.
Over the past week-and-a-half I’ve been spending time reading the early stages of Luke’s gospel. I’m not reading aimlessly or randomly but have begun using Search the Scriptures - which is a book first published in 1934 and revised in 1949 and 1967 that seeks to encourage regular, systematic Bible reading and study. The material in Search the Scriptures covers the entire Bible and contains studies to take exactly three years if it is used daily.
I was looking through some notes I’d made a month-or-two ago whilst reading the book Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzuro. In it he advocates that believers participate in the Daily Office which are set times of stillness, Bible reading and prayer each day. He suggests the components and indeed the times and frequency can vary and be flexible, but there is value in setting aside multiple parts of the day for spiritual input and reflection.
Lectio divina (‘divine reading’) is a Bible reading method that is more than a Bible reading method. It has its origins in 6th century catholicism, but before you switch off, bear in mind that most historical Christian spiritual practices have their antecedents either in biblical times, the early church or catholicism since there were few alternatives until the reformation in the 16th century. It was first practiced by Benedict of Nursia in the 6th century and further developed bu Guigo II, a Carthusian monk in the 12th century.
This is the second post looking at some of the detail of studying God’s Word edited by John B Job. The original post is here, and the first more detailed post is here. This chapter is written by Jean Rutherford who, early in the chapter writes: It is our minds, as well as spirit and will, which are needed in analysis of any Biblical passage. Lack of spiritual life leads to dry academic discussion; lack of mental discipline and hard thinking leads to ‘beautiful thoughts’ floating in a void and to an unbalanced view of God’s truth; lack of will makes the whole operation sterile, since the object of Bible study is to help us to discern God’s will and His purpose for us, and then to obey Him.
This is the first post looking at some of the detail of studying God’s Word edited by John B Job that I first mentioned a couple of posts ago. The chapter (written by Laurence Porter) by way of introduction, compares devotional Bible reading with Bible study and states the following: Studying the Bible is complementary with and not an alternative to devotional reading. Thorough Bible study can enrich and inform devotional reading.
A month-or-so ago I came across a book at a second hand bookshop called studying God’s Word edited by John B Job. It was published by IVP over 45 years ago1 and so the style is a little dated. Despite that, the content is helpful. It covers different ways or methods of, not surprisingly, studying God’s Word. Some of these methods include analysing a book of the Bible; analysing a passage or chapter; character and background studies; word studies and theme studies.
There are about five gazillion ways to study the Bible, and three gazillion ways of reading it. I know. I’ve tried them all. “Hyperbole” – the use of obvious and intentional exaggeration. For as long as I’ve been a Christian I’ve looked at different ways of reading the Bible, and different ways of studying it – from reading plans to meditation; from chronological to inductive; from prepared study guides to randomly opening the Bible and reading.