If you could only read one book about studying the Bible, I would recommend Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin.
I read it four years ago, but wanted to read it again. I should probably reread it every few years.
Jen opens with some of the mistaken approaches she took to reading the Word of God at first. One was reading it as if it were a book about her and to help her. Though the Bible does help us, it is a book about God. Another “turnaround” for her was the realization that the Bible should speak to the mind as well as, and even before, the heart.
If we want to feel a deeper love for God, we must learn to see him more clearly for who he is. If we want to feel deeply about God, we must learn to think deeply about God (p. 33).
We must love God with our minds, allowing our intellect to inform our emotions, rather than the other way around (p. 34).
Jen’s great passion is promoting Bible literacy, which she says “occurs when a person has access to a Bible in a language she understands and is steadily moving toward knowledge and understanding of the text” (pp. 36-37). She emphasizes the steady movement: we won’t some day “arrive” at complete Bible knowledge, but we should be ever growing.
But “we may develop habits of engaging the text that at best do nothing to increase literacy and at worse actually work against it” (p. 37). She discusses several of those wrong habits, like the Xanax approach (which “treats the Bible as if it exists to make us feel better,” p. 39), the Magic 8 ball approach, and several others.
Then she shares Five P’s of Sound Study: purpose, perspective, patience, process, and prayer, explaining, illustrating, and giving example of each. Within “process” she discusses comprehension, interpretation, and application, and she stresses reading in context and in consideration of the genre of each book.
Throughout the book Jen emphasizes that Bible study and literacy is not an end in itself: it is a means of knowing God for who He is, getting to know Him better and being changed to become more like Him.
Our study of the Bible is beneficial only insofar as it increases our love for the God it proclaims. Bible study is a means to an end, not an end in and of itself. It is a means to love God more, and to live differently because we have learned to behold him better. And it is a means to become what we behold. The reciprocal love of God is a love that transforms (p. 148).
She includes an excellent chapter expressing the great need for women to teach women and sharing helps for those who would go on to lead Bible studies. I especially appreciated the admonition to avoid “ricocheting around the entire Bible…Good teaching will necessarily involve the use of cross-references, but not at the expense of the primary text” (p. 139) and to avoid “feminizing the text” (p. 140) as well as the rest of the advice in this chapter.
I am glad I read this again, and I am happy to recommend it again.
(Sharing with Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books,
Literary Musing Monday,
Carole’s Book’s You Loved)
Thanks for the recommendation! This sounds like a very practical and helpful read! 😊
Well, your first sentence alone makes me want to read this — as does the rest of your review. I’m adding it to my “to read” pile. Thanks!
Yup! Agree 100%, in fact I was just poking around in my Kindle to refer to it recently. Have you read Jen’s two books on the attributes of God? Same wonderful and biblical content and same respectful handling of it. (Plus she’s funny!)
I have both of them, but have not read them yet. But they are on my “to be read very soon” list!
This sounds excellent, Barbara. I’ve known well-meaning and enthusiastic Bible teachers who do that ricocheting you mentioned. It’s dizzying and makes you hunger for more context and depth.
Thank you for sharing! It sounds like a good read.
Pingback: Saturday Review of Books: October 13, 2018 | Semicolon
Pingback: What’s On Your Nightstand: October 2018 | Stray Thoughts
Hi Barbara, I recently bought this book and hope to start it soon. I haven’t read anything by this author before but thought this book looked good. Thanks for your thoughts.
I hope you enjoy it, Carol!
Pingback: Books Read in 2018 | Stray Thoughts
Pingback: Favorite Books of 2018 | Stray Thoughts
Pingback: Laudable Linkage | Stray Thoughts
Pingback: We Need Time Alone with God | Stray Thoughts