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How to Study the Bible Paperback – July 20, 2006
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'An excellent book from the pen of an able scholar, an experienced pastor and a gracious Christian. It is intended for all types of Christian people who are serious about studying the Bible carefully... I warmly commend it.' (Eric Alexander ~ Conference speaker and formerly minister St George's Tron, Glasgow for 20 years)
'An excellent book from the pen of an able scholar, an experienced pastor and a gracious Christian. It is intended for all types of Christian people who are serious about studying the Bible carefully... I warmly commend it.' ~ Eric Alexander (Conference speaker and formerly minister St George's Tron, Glasgow for 20 years)
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Top Customer Reviews
First things first. This is a good book, maybe a very good book. Mayhue has written it at a level appropriate for a general church audience. There's no off-putting jargon or terminology, it's written at a level accessible to almost any reader, it's not too voluminous, and there are good questions at the end of each chapter. This is very likely the text I'm going to pick. While my review below may sound rather critical, I have a feeling that this book will wind up being my "best-in-class" choice.
Mayhue loosely structures the book around the 2 Timothy 2:15 admonition to "cut it straight." Part One, Making Straight Cuts, contains 5 chapters covering topics such as studying the Bible for God's approval, an explanation of how the Bible came to be, useful tools for Bible study, and then two chapters on how to study the Bible. Boiled down to bullet points, Mayhue's steps for Bible study are: affirmation, preparation, observation, investigation, interpretation, correlation (tracing a theme through Scripture), personalization, appropriation, proclamation.
The tools for Bible study are dated, and not commensurate with the level of the book. If a student is going to get Greek helps, for example, I would also assume that he's going to choose a more advanced book on Bible study. More than likely, he's going to use web-based resources.
One of the reasons I am just a little lukewarm about this text is because it is too homiletical for my tastes (meaning forced, so that the points have "good homiletical structure" at the expense of plain meaning), and it seems a little lightweight in the observation department. By way of example of the aforementioned two characteristics, I am told to observe singularly, observe carefully, observe thoroughly, observe systematically, observe intimately. Mayhue does an excellent job of fleshing out what he means under each point, but you won't know what he means intuitively from the title of the point. This part of the book is too brief: most of the errors of the average Bible reader that I encounter start with an inadequate observation of text and context. I would have liked a little more under this heading.
In Part Two, Avoiding Crooked Cuts, Mayhue covers a number of errors and mistakes made by readers (and scholars) of the text. His examples are quite good, but he seems to have invented his own category names for each error, which won't be helpful if a student using this text then moves on to a more advanced one. This section also carries the distinct feeling of a guy who's grinding a bit of a theological axe in some of his identification of errors: you can feel the tension between Reformed and Dispensational theology (which makes sense, as it is a tension primarily located in one's hermeneutics).
Part Three is a short piece on Living Out Your Cuts. Mayhue encourages the Bible student to live consistently with the results of his study. It's a great admonition.
Strengths of the book: its accessibility, its practicality, its illustrations, its questions at the end of each chapter.
Weaknesses of the book: a little light on observation and correlation, and Part 2, on fallacies, seems a bit uneven.
Overall recommendation: this book is great for a believer who is beginning to understand that there is more to Bible reading than simply letting the book flop open at any uncertain place. It's a good book for a believer who wants to sharpen their skills in understanding Scripture. It's a great step up into the rewarding world of Bible study.
If you want a HOW TO hermeneutical guide then buy BIBLICAL THEOLOGY IN THE LIFE OF THE CHURCH by Michael Lawrence. This is well worth more than you will pay for it.