Thursday, September 18, 2014

Book Review: The Bible Study Handbook

The Bible Study Handbook. Lindsay Olesberg. 2012. IVP. 240 pages. [Source: Bought]

Interested in learning more about inductive bible study? Lindsay Olesberg's Bible Study Handbook may just be the perfect book for you. If you're interested in learning more about bible study, but, not necessarily inductive bible study, then, you may find it intriguing and informative but also slightly disappointing.
The purpose of this handbook is to train God’s people to study the Bible for themselves rather than relying on “professional Christians” to explain it. The method I use is called manuscript Bible study and uses an inductive approach.
Christian faith and spiritual formation are too important to leave the work of understanding the Bible to experts. Sermons and books by skilled teachers and thinkers are valuable, but they can’t replace the life-giving words of the Bible itself. To become mature and vibrant followers of Jesus, we must engage with the Bible directly.
She does not really discuss the various ways to study the Bible, the various ways one could choose legitimately to study the Bible. The goal seems to be to convince readers that inductive bible study is the way to study the Bible.
Inductive Bible study follows three primary phases: observation, interpretation and application. This means that the question “What?” comes before the questions “So what?” and “Now what?”
Discovering the riches of the Scripture for ourselves deepens our motivation to learn and increases our level of comprehension.
Inductive Bible study is a way of slowing down and concentrating on the Word. Manuscript study can’t be accomplished in a quick ten minutes before running out the door. It requires an investment of time, a lingering in the presence of God. Whether we are aware of it or not, our souls are being watered and nourished as we do the work of observing, interpreting and applying the text.
One of the reasons people are so excited about inductive Bible study when they first encounter it is the discovery of “undreamed treasure” in familiar passages. Once they learn how to observe well, they find that the Bible is incredibly rich. They might even be baffled that they have read it for so many years and yet missed so much.
The good news? She explains what inductive bible study is and how to do it step by step by step. Each chapter has homework.

The book has some great information. It does. And Olesberg uses the same passage of Scripture throughout all the chapters so that readers can make sense of the process of inductive bible study.  For the most part, I thought the book was written clearly. It wasn't intimidating to read her examples and descriptions.

Reading this book did not un-intimidate me to the inductive process. Though it didn't WOW me to such an extent that I'm eager to try inductive bible study myself in the near future, I did appreciate many things about the book. I enjoyed getting to know the author. And there were many things I did agree with. I loved, for example, what she had to say about reading the book of Revelation.
Set aside a few hours to curl up with a cup of coffee and the book of Revelation. If you read it straight through (as the original audience would have listened to it), the depth of struggle of the God’s faithful witnesses and grandeur of Christ’s ultimate triumph over evil will engulf you and you will be moved to worship with the angels. In a “big read” of Revelation, all the confusion over signs, seals and beasts fades away; Jesus, the Lamb who was slain, is magnified.
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible


hopeinbrazil said...

Love that last quote!

Jessica Snell said...

Now this makes me want to read this book! Adding it to my Goodreads to-be-read list.