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Nine Ways Not to Study the Bible

The Bible is the most wonderful book in the world. But sadly, it has often been misused and misquoted. The mistake Taking a text out of its context. An example of this is comes in Genesis 4:9: Am I my brothers keeper? Some have quoted these words to mean that we should not be concerned with other peoples welfare. Interpreting a poetic image in a literal way. This has led to dreadful persecution, as Galileo would tell you! For example, take Psalm 93:1, which says: The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved. For hundreds of years some Christians thought that anyone who did not believe that the earth was fixed, and the sun went round it, was a heretic. Misquoting a verse. One of the most frequently misquoted verses is 1 Timothy 6:10, which comes out as: Money is the root of all evil. (This has been taken to mean that money in itself is evil, and that Christians should have nothing to do with it.) Quoting half a verse. Matthew 22:21, Give to Caesar what is Caesars is frequently quoted in isolation from the second half of the verse. It emphasizes only a Christians duty to the State. Studying only the nice verses. Some parts of the Bible make very disturbing reading. Psalm 137:89 reads, Happy is he The solution A text out of context is a pretext. The words in Genesis 4:9 are words spoken by Cain, who has just murdered his brother Abel! Cain lies to God, saying he does not know where Abel is. The point is that we are meant to be our brothers keeper.

Interpret poetic language as poetry. The first half of Psalm 93:1 states: The Lord reigns, he is robed in majesty; the Lord is robed in majesty and is armed with strength. The psalm is about Gods majesty and power: it is not meant to teach us about astronomy. Look out of your window. Doesnt the earth seem solid and fixed? The psalmist is saying that God is strong in the same way.

Make accurate quotations. 1 Timothy 6:10 actually says, For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. It is the love of money, not money itself which is the problem, as the second half of the verse amplifies: Some people, eager for money, have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

Quote the whole verse. The second half of Matthew 22:21 reads, and to God what is Gods. Jesus is saying that we have a dual responsibility: to the State and to God.

Face the tough verses head-on. There may be some verses in the Bible that you do not understand. Do not let these stop you from appreciating the rest that you do understand. When the psalmist cried out for immediate vengeance against evil people, he had no idea of

who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks. Getting submerged in the Old Testament. Some long passages in the Old Testament might not make much sense to you, and discourage you from reading the Bible. When the British pop star Cliff Richard began to read the Bible, he started at Genesis but gave up when he reached Leviticus because he did not understand what all the sacrifices were about. Starting with the most difficult New Testament books. If you are not familiar with the New Testament, it is best not to start with the Book of Revelation and the Letter to the Hebrews.

Christs sacrificial death for sin, or of the future final judgment. Move from the familiar to the unfamiliar. If you havent read the Bible before, start with some of the following key Old Testament passages. The creation. Genesis 1:12:7 The fall of man. Genesis 3:624 The call of Abraham. Genesis 12:19 The story of Joseph. Genesis 3738 The Ten Commandments. Exodus 20:117 The shepherds psalm. Psalm 23

Not acting on the Bibles commands Using the Bible as a battleground for fruitless arguments

Start with an overview of the New Testament. Here are some key New Testament passages. The birth of Jesus. Luke 1:262:40 The Sermon on the Mount. Matthew 57 The prodigal son. Luke 15:1132 The Last Supper. Matthew 26:2025 The death and resurrection of Jesus. John 1920 The conversion of Paul. Acts 9:131 The life of joy. Pauls Letter to the Philippians Obedience is crucial Be doers of the word, and not hearers only. James 1:22 (NRSV) Avoid arguing over unimportant things See Titus 3:9

Water, M. 1998. Bible Study made easy. The Made Easy Series (8). John Hunt Publishers Ltd: Alresford, Hampshire