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Learn to Study the Bible Paperback – April 30, 2009
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With 40 different methods of studying the Bible, there's something here for everyone. No matter who you are you'll find a key in these pages that will unlock the riches of God's Word in your life. --Pastor Bob Coy (Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale)
Learn to Study Your Bible is an affordable and practical book for those who want to dig deeper and get more out of their personal Bible study. --Dr. Michael Catt (Sherwood Baptist Church)
Andy has done a fantastic job of laying out numerous options for Bible Study. I'm sure there's a method that will be helpful for everyone who is serious about growing in the Lord through his word. --Pastor Brian Broderson (Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa)
Wow has Andy shattered the cold stone ceiling of Bible study! No longer should the Bible remain mysterious and reserved for the theologians. Many Bible study methods morph into boring laborious monotony, but not this one. Learn to Study the Bible makes knowing the Bible adventurous, deeply personal, thought provoking and just plain fun. No matter where you open this book you will discover great new methods of digging into the treasure of God's Word. Whether the chapter on Daily Devotions, the Rethink & Restate Method or Verse by Verse Charting, the next journey is more fun than the last one. Anyone wishing to cultivate the same passion for God's Word that has transformed the author will love this book.
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I come to the table reading this book as a somewhat liberal Christian. At least by conservative standards. I don't think that Deane knew this when he requested I read his book. Or maybe he did. And if so, Bravo, Deane.
On the positive side, the book contains a good overview of a wide variety of Bible study methods. Forty, to be exact. It also does a good job illustrating the various methods so you can visualize how to do it yourself. With all the methods in the book, I am inclined to believe there is probably something for everyone.
I especially enjoyed his "One at a Time" idea, where you do a special in-depth analysis of a favorite, or "life" verse. I also enjoyed the "Six Searches" method. This method asks six probing questions about the passage and you journal on the questions. Another method that I found useful was the "Book Overview" method. In this method you create a great one-page "at-a-glance" fact sheet for a specific book of the Bible. I could see how doing this over a period of time could give you a great source for quick information about certain books.
My frustrations with the book were in some ways minor, considering that the point of the book was Bible study methods, not theology. But in other ways the frustrations were major, as they cut to the core of what I believe about the Bible. Needless to say I am trying hard not to throw the proverbial "baby" out with the "bathwater."
In one chapter, Deane stated that the word of God only has one correct interpretation. This concerns me. I believe that there are definitely good interpretations, even "better" interpretations, but the beauty of the Bible is its ability to speak volumes to all people at all times. I don't feel comfortable limiting God to one "point" per verse.
He also said that each word in the original manuscript is God-breathed. I believe that there is a danger in saying that every word is God-breathed. If this is true, then I am forced to believe in dictation theory. This bothers me because of the wide variety of writing styles found within the Bible. If God himself wrote every word, not inspired the thought, but actually told them which words to use, then how do we get all these different styles? I just don't think that dictation theory jives with all the editorial type comment we find sprinkled throughout Scripture. I do, however, believe that all Scripture is God ordained and that God was intimately involved in the creation of these sacred texts.
Those were the big theological pet peeves. My additional concerns were his seeming disregard for theological formal education. He wrote about how the current technological advances and available research mean that you don't have to learn the biblical languages to study Scripture. While you certainly don't have to learn the languages, you cannot say that concordances and word study books are as good as knowing the language and nuances yourself. Anyone who has studied a biblical language, myself included, will tell you that it can be an important devotional tool for ministry, even in this modern setting. Nothing can replace the understanding that comes from learning a language yourself.
From a totally different perspective, I was frustrated with the editing of the book. I found multiple misspellings and grammatical errors in the handwritten "example" portions of the book. In my opinion this should have been caught by the editors. And there you have it. My official opinion on the book. While it was an interesting book to browse for methods, I was unimpressed with the editorial comments and covert theological stances. I give it 3 stars out of 5.
Note for Full Disclosure: While I do not receive any monetary compensation for my book reviews, I am provided with free complimentary copies of each book. That being said, this review is completely my own, and free from the influence of the author, Andy Deane.
Learn to Study the Bible grew out of the author's effort to teach the youth in his church inductive Bible study methods with, at first, little success. His search for an easy to teach and understand system led him to realize that there were many approaches that had a place in the Christian life, and perhaps he needed to make those ideas accessible to a wider audience of Christians than those willing to research and search through the many books he did.
The opening chapters of the book explain why we need to go beyond light reading of the Scripture and consistently spend time in real study to truly get all the Lord has provided for us in His Word. They also lay out the foundational principles of Bible study: that we should observe, interpret and apply the Word to our lives. This was an extremely valuable part of the book and I can't wait to have my sons and read it and discuss it with them. I did find the author's repeated use of lists and underlining a real distraction. This style, while well suited to the latter part of the book where the methods are taught, encourages the reader to skim, when the explanations under each heading contain points too good to miss. I'd love to see these chapters rewritten in a prose style - they would be fantastic!
The second part of the book describes forty different methods we can use to find the rich treasures buried in the Word of God. I must confess this part was much more interesting than I expected. I wanted to pull out my Bible right then and get going. The author includes basic methods, such as using the words in 2 Timothy 3:16 (doctrine, reproof, correction, etc) to analyze a passage, traditional methods such as word study, creative methods, such as a translation comparison, methods appropriate to specific parts of Scripture and innovative methods that might appeal to a younger crowd. Really, there is no excuse for not approaching your Bible study with anticipation after you've read Learn to Study the Bible.
The section on study methods treats each suggestion separately, describing in detail how each is done, but it doesn't stop there. Each method has a handwritten example of the notes someone might produce if they used that approach to study an appropriate Scripture. Seeing the system "in use" on an actual Bible passage greatly aids comprehension, as well as clearly showing the usefulness of it since you can immediately see the conclusions and applications the author found while using that method.
This is a great resource not only for teaching our children step by step how they can approach the Word of God as "a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth," but also encouraging ourselves to get back into the Scriptures and take a look at them with a fresh eye. That's worth a lot!
I would love to see the author add a chapter, or perhaps do a follow-up volume, that teaches folks how to use Bible helps, such as Nave's, Strong's, a Bible atlas, etc, in just the same way that he teaches these Bible study methods.
Hal & Melanie Young, authors of Raising Real Men: Surviving, Teaching and Appreciating Boys
The first thing that stood out was that this was a book you could grow with. There is no other bible study resource that provides an extensive variety of Bible Study methods. Andy Deane takes it one step further in providing hand written examples. No matter what stage of bible study you are in Deane does a beautiful job in walking you thorough studying the bible. Learn To Study the Bible is divided up into three different study methods:
# Basic Bible Study
# Major Bible Study
# Creative Bible Study
Deane also included a section titled "Study Methods for Younger Students." No matter what your learning style is, you will find a method that will help you learn more about the bible and help you understand God's word better. If there is only one bible study book you purchase, I would suggest purchasing "Learn to Study the Bible" by Andy Deane.