Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Two by G. Campbell Morgan (Book Review)

The Study and Teaching of the English Bible. G. Campbell Morgan. 1910. [Source: Bought] and
The Bible in Five Years. A Comprehensive Outline for Study of the Entire Sacred Volume. G. Campbell Morgan. 1922. [Source: Bought]

I recently read two short books or pamphlets by G. Campbell Morgan. The first was titled The Study and Teaching of the English Bible. The book consists of four lectures published originally in 1910. The first lecture is on "preliminary considerations." The second lecture is on "the fundamental processes." The third lecture is on "the teaching of the English Bible." The fourth lecture is on "the method." So the first two lectures or chapters cover the "study" and the last two lectures or chapters cover "the teaching."

One thing I can say is that G. Campbell Morgan was very fond of outlines! I can also add that his advice was practical, for the most part. He explains in detail how to read and study the Bible. For example, he urges readers to:
  • SURVEY. This means reading; and results in an impression.
  • CONDENSE. This means thinking; and results in an outline.
  • EXPAND. This means work; and results in an analysis.
  • DISSECT. This means—to use the word of the hard student in other departments—sweat; and results in knowledge.
From chapter one:
[The Bible] claims to declare the truth about God, the truth about man, and the truth about the relationship between God and man. 
Turning to the more technical matters, it is necessary to recognize that the Bible consists of two parts which we describe as the Old and the New Testaments, or Covenants. The former consists of a collection of the sacred writings of the Hebrew people, and the latter a collection of the sacred writings of the Christian Church. Each of these two parts has three principal qualities: historic, or statements concerning the past; didactic, or teaching for the government of the present; predictive, or foretelling of the future. In the Old Testament we have the history of the Hebrew people; an account of their origin, their destiny, their failure; and all this principally on the side of the Divine method of dealing with them. This Hebrew history is prefaced by a brief statement concerning the first things in the history of the human race. In the New Testament the history deals with one Person, Jesus of Nazareth, and with about sixty or seventy years of the movement resulting from His presence in the world. The didactic portions of these two divisions consist of teachings which appealed to the times in which they were given. In the Old Testament we have, side by side with history, a body of prophetic messages delivered to the people. These teachings, however, have a wider application than that to the age in which they were delivered, for they contain fundamental principles which have abiding values. The didactic portions of these two divisions consist of teachings which appealed to the times in which they were given. In the Old Testament we have, side by side with history, a body of prophetic messages delivered to the people. These teachings, however, have a wider application than that to the age in which they were delivered, for they contain fundamental principles which have abiding values. The predictive element in the Old Testament is very remarkable, consisting of prophecies foretelling events, some of which have already been fulfilled, and some of which are not yet fulfilled. In the New also we have definite predictions, some of them from the lips of the one central Person, the Lord Jesus Christ, and some from the pens of those who were His followers. Many of these predictive writings are full of mystery; some of them have been fulfilled, while others await fulfillment.
In the first five books there is a record of the search after a priest; in the historic writings we have the quest for a king; while in the didactic portions we hear the sigh for a prophet. Nevertheless in the whole of these books we fail to find perfect priest, or king, or prophet; in spite of the fact that the idea of each has been kept in mind, and the necessity for such is evidently the supreme conviction of the unified teaching. In brief, the sacred writings of the first division consist of a literature revealing a people who in their religion, their history, and their ideals are making a pilgrimage, in the light of a hope which remains unfulfilled. When we turn to the New Testament, the sacred writings of the Christian Church, we find what Carnegie Simpson has so happily described as the Fact of Christ. The historic section consists of five books, the first four of which tell the story of His presence in the world; while the fifth describes the first movements in human history resulting from that presence. The didactic portion consists of the writings of those who were His followers, and explains more fully the mystery of His Person, and the resources and responsibilities of His people. The predictive element throughout has to do with His final triumph. Thus, while in the Old we have a progress towards a Person, inspired by a hope, in the New we have a process from a Person, inspired by a fact. Thus, the whole Library is unified in this one Person.
No man is in any sense a Bible student who takes up the Bible and reads it by a method which can only be described as haphazard. To open it at a page and read, to take a certain portion allotted for each day by others, may be perfectly justifiable methods for pleasure, and may result in profit; but they do not constitute study, in the true sense of the word.
From chapter two:
In commencing our study it is important that we bear in mind the principles set forth in the previous lecture; and whatever book we take, we should first define its place in the Library; as to whether it is a Hebrew or a Christian document; and also its quality; whether it is history, teaching, or prediction. The activity in order to survey is that of reading. It is necessary first, to decide to take practically no notice of the chapter and verse divisions which we find in our ordinary Bibles. They all have their uses for reference, but they may sadly mislead us in our attempt to gain a general impression of a book. Let the book be read straight on, and in reading look, listen, and live. Look closely at what you are reading; listen to what the words you see are saying; and live for the time in the very atmosphere which is being created by the reading of your book. Someone may say, who has given more time to study other literature than the Bible: "But that is exactly what you would do with any book!" Certainly; and if men will begin to read the Bible with the same common sense as they employ in the reading of other books, they will be on the highway to an apprehension of its meaning, which hitherto they have lacked; and that statement explains the reason for my suggestion that the reader should forget the chapter and verse divisions. Who would consent to any other literature being subjected to this mechanical method of division? I remember that eminent Bible scholar, and wonderful teacher, Dr. Henry Weston, once saying, "I hate these chapters and verses; reading a Bible in which I find them, always reminds me of riding over a corduroy road." His figure of speech may need some explanation for English readers. He was an old man, and remembered the first roads in the Western parts of the country, and how that in travelling over them one experienced a series of bumps which were neither conducive to speed nor ease; and that is exactly the mental effect produced all too often by reading a chapter divided into verses, one experiences a series of jerks.
Having read the book, read it again; and in the same way. Then read it once more. After that read it again; and yet again, until you become conscious that the book has made an impression upon your mind; that you have a conception of its general movement. That is the first process. In the course of the reading make a note of special phrases or words that occur repeatedly, or of any particular thought which seems to be insistent.
Now we may turn to the expansion of that outline, and in order to do so we need to sit down quietly with each of these sections, and carefully work for the production of an analysis. There must first be grammatical analysis, the taking of each section, paragraph by paragraph, with determination to discover the principal sentences, and to note the grouping around them of subordinate sentences, and the inter-relationships between these. I cannot too earnestly urge the importance of studying the Bible thus analytically, and of refusing to abandon a passage until its real sense is understood. In this process it is more than ever necessary that we should not be in bondage to the chapters and verses, as we find them in our ordinary Bibles.
Each sentence is now to be pondered in itself, and in its relationship to all the other sentences. Every word is to be carefully examined as to its root meaning and as to its use at the time when it was written. Here, of course, is the place where you need all the help and all the scholarship available. There is a fine and ever growing exegetical literature for which the true student of the Word is profoundly thankful; and of which he will avail himself to the utmost of his ability. The work of dissection needs patience and persistence, but it yields the most astonishing results, full of fascination and delight to those who give themselves to it earnestly.
The way to study the Bible is to study the Bible; and to give time and attention to the business; to read, to think, to work, to sweat! These are the requirements, especially of those who profess to teach or preach.
Therefore, at the end of every hour of study, whatever the process may be, that of survey, condensation, expansion, or dissection, let the life be submitted to the truth which has been discovered; and then by all means let there be instant obedience to the shining of the light; for by this method alone can we be prepared for new unveilings; and by this method the Bible will become, as the days go on, more and more full of value, and full of delight.
From chapter three:
What the nation thinks, the nation will do, and eventually the nation will be. Ideas are the mightiest factors in national life.
The Bible is the Word of God, that is, it is the truth for men. Take the Bible from the Church and what happens? The Church is the pillar and ground of the truth, and if it lose the Bible it becomes a lamp without a light, a pedestal without a figure. By such loss the Church is of no use to the nation. On the other hand, give the Bible to the Church, let the Church know the Bible and love the Bible, then it will be a light and a revelation, and so will be able to fulfill its true function in the national life, and by such fulfillment the nation will be constrained towards spiritual conceptions, moral conduct, and unselfish character.
There is an immediate need for the teaching of the Bible within the Church, first because of its long-continued neglect, and secondly, because of the present urgent question with wars about.
From chapter four:
No man can truly teach it who picks it up and reads it casually, and then, when some isolated passage has impressed him, lays it aside while he attempts to find on his bookshelves things which other men have said concerning the passage which has appealed to him. That is not study of the Bible, and it cannot issue in teaching of the Bible.
To young people I would, however, say, even if you have the means, do not buy a library of expository works. Build up your own library one book at a time, according to that particular portion of the Bible which you are studying. Select and choose, under the advice of those in whom you have most confidence, the books you require; and buying and studying them one at a time, you will soon find that you have gathered around you familiar friends in your books. Such a collection constitutes a true library. It is quite true that you can buy at cheap and reduced rates whole series of commentaries, but the probability is that if you do so the majority of them will never help you; but the books which you gather one by one will certainly be those of greatest value to you throughout the whole course of your ministry of teaching.
Finally, the teacher of the Bible must follow a twofold process, which may again be described by two words—"persistence" and "patience." By persistence I mean constant repetition. It was Dr. Dale, of Birmingham, who once told a meeting of ministers that they might expect people to understand what they meant when they had repeated it ten times. Personally, I am not sure that ten times is enough for the average man. Finally, strengthen your persistence and your patience by remembering that the Bible teacher cannot and ought not to do everything. Leave something for the student to do. Be content to leave your theme unfinished; for the true system of education is not that of cramming, but that of suggesting, so that the mind may act for itself and, proceeding along the line indicated, grasp the larger meaning and the final truth.
The second book I read might best be described as a pamphlet. I don't regret reading The Bible In Five Years (1922), but I also don't have much to say about it. It gives readers an outline for reading the Bible in five years. The first three years cover the Old Testament and three gospels: Matthew, Mark, and Luke. The fourth year focuses on the life of Christ and the gospel of John. So essentially it covers all four of the gospels. The fifth year focuses on Acts through Revelation.
The arrangement is intended to give a course whereby the student shall gain a comprehensive knowledge of the Bible as a whole. In the study and teaching much will be required which is not supplied in this pamphlet. That may be obtained in general literature bearing on the subjects. Thirty-nine lessons are arranged for each year so as to leave three months for vacation periods, and Sundays on which the Festivals of the Church will be the subject of teaching, Christmas, Easter, and others. 
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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