This blog has since 2006 to provide resources for Bible teaching and study, a forum for the arts of writing and film, and a space for ranting about politics. Barbara G. Tucker is the mind and heart behind this blog and solely responsible for the content, which
does not reflect the views or mission of her employer, church, or affiliations. She has many personal (wife and mom to start with) and professional roles (related to higher education and writing.) Enjoy and participate.
Bible Study Basics
I have three books ideas (other than fiction) and one of them is about how to study the Bible with a different approach than others (which are genre-based, which is important, or inductive, which is important also). It will be more of a layman's or laywoman's approach to what one is actually doing in Bible study.
One of the basics is knowing the definition of four important words:
Revelation – God
inspired (breathed in) men to write through their own personalities and cultures to deliver a message in text.This is not dictation. The writers were literate and in some cases well educated and academically trained for their period. God did not obliterate their "selves" while they wrote. The Bible is accurate and truthful (two different things) in all it affirms. But we don't always understand it right off "the bat."
Interpretation – deriving the meaning of the passage in the original writing, through language and cultural study, to find the the truth that is for everyone at
all times. Some people who interpret the Bible don’t even believe it. That leads us to . . .
Illumination – Jesus told the apostles that the
Holy Spirit would guide them into all truth in John 16:13. Was this just for apostles? Maybe, but probably not. There are other passages that "come alongside" this one. Illumination is "light-giving" and has to do with our understanding of the Scripture through the Holy Spirit and our attitude of openness.Only those who
have the Holy Spirit can use it and believe it.
Application – what it
means for us today in terms of obedience and insight into God’s wills and
ways.This is where we personally "hear" God, after
the other three (not before or without them).
Beth Moore has been criticized,
as have other speakers, that they are saying God speaks to them personally to
have a word for the church.This is a
tricky area. I don’t know her heart.But
I know that when God speaks to me it is for me, not a word of knowledge for others. I also have insights into the meaning of
Scripture that I can share because I know it’s based on a study of the text.I think Bible teachers should be honest and
transparent about that.“This is how I
am applying it in my life, but God may apply it differently for you.”Women can be guilty of emphasizing the emotional and wanting
something personal and emotional from scripture, and female Bible teachers can be susceptible to delivering that to audiences who want it.
I'll use as an example the verse inI Corinthians 13, "Love is not puffed up." Each of us gets puffed up about different
things.One woman can have a beautiful
home because she is puffed up, another so she can be hospitable and doesn’t
think of it that way.I can’t say, “if
you have a beautiful home, you are puffed up,” just because I might get that
way.Only God can speak to the person
that way. But we have to be open and listening, and listening in Scripture does
not mean the act of hearing but of responding and obeying.In the Hebrew the same word shama, translated "hearing" has a
broader set of meanings than we give it today.
Actually all words are like that. I like to draw a picture of a circle with a word in the middle and then show all the words that fit as denotations and connotations in the circle and put others outside of it.
I think we can easily get caught up in any of these four steps and not put them together in correct order, and thus fall into pseudo-heresies.
How's that for a title? Thought it might get some hits. However, this post is dead serious. Last night I taught, for the first time, this fascinating "tale," which might be called an allegory. I taught it in conjunction with "A Good Man is Hard to Find" by Flannery O'Connor. Both must be read in light of the Christian world view or metanarrative, that of perfect creation, fall, redemption through Christ, and an eventual return to a perfect creation. As I told my students, different churches interpret that sequence differently but all hold to the same basic sequence.
But of course, they are very different stories. "Young Goodman Brown" is set in the Puritan landscape and more specifically in Salem. This is not just any New England town in the 17th century, but the site of the hysteria and hypocrisy of the witch trials, a time engrained into American consciousness especially through The Crucible and the McCarthy times. (These are, of course,…