Good News and Bad News
Here's some bad news. A child who hasn't learned to read yet will have hard time studying the Bible! There may be some exceptions to this, but I haven't seen any yet!
However, here's the good news! If you learn to cherish the Bible and study it, your little one will begin to pick up that same value through osmosis. By the time they get to a reading age, they'll expect to follow your example and start to read it on their own. I would challenge you to use the information below in the Family Time and One-On-One sections for yourself, and if you're married, your spouse. Make sure you've got a good grasp on Bible Study yourself, so you're ready to teach your child.
A few things you can do with your child now:
1. Hold your child on your lap while you read the Bible. Let them touch the pages and tell them that the Bible is very special!
2. Read one verse over your child every night for a month or two. If they're at a talking age, you'll be shocked at how quickly they'll memorize it!
3. Play these songs around the house to learn the order of the Biblical books!
Observe, Interpret, Apply
Those three words are the building blocks of basic Bible Study. They take a minute to learn and a lifetime to master. Read on to see how it works!
Step 1: Observe (What does it say?)
The goal of Observe is to spell out the basic information that’s apparent in the passage. Start by filling in as much as you can through the 5 W’s and an H.
Who, What, Where, When, Why & How?
Sometimes a google search or the introductory section in a Study Bible is helpful! There's nothing wrong with doing a little research.
Here's an example. The Story of Jonah.
Who: Jonah, God, the Ninevites, the sailors
Step 2: Interpret (What does it mean?)
The goal of Interpret is to discover a timeless principle the passage teaches. This is the hardest step of Observe, Interpret, Apply for children and adults alike. If your kids have a hard time with this step, that’s to be expected. Ask yourself, what truth does this passage teach me about people? About God? About life?
Here's an example:
The Story of Jonah. God is able to redirect us even when we run from him.
Step 3: Apply (What should I do or believe?)
The goal of Apply is to make the change in our behavior or belief the passage requires.
If you quit before application, you miss the point of Bible study! It’s not enough to know; we have to grow. Satan knows the Bible backward and forward. Bible knowledge doesn’t make us more like Jesus; doing what the Bible says does!
The Story of Jonah: I need to invite my friend from school to church!
There you have it! Give Observe, Interpret, Apply a try using the passages below!
Week 1: James 1:1-8
Week 2: Psalm 23
Week 3: Genesis 3
Week 4: Luke 15:11-32
Just like you might interpret a documentary differently than a newsreport, we interpret scripture with an understanding of the genre it's written in. Below is a brief description of each genre with their corresponding Biblical Books! Some books could fit into multiple categories. For example: Matthew is a gospel, but it is also a history book!
History: A literal history of actual events. Similar to a history book. Most books in the History genre are in the Old Testament.
Genesis and the first half of Exodus, Numbers, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, 1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Jonah, Acts
Law: The religious and cultural laws given by God to the people of Israel in the Old Testament. As Christians, these laws do not all apply to us directly. They were written for the Israelites at that particular moment in history. However, they teach us about the nature of God and many of these laws should still influence how we live.
The last half of Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy
Wisdom: Books aimed at teaching practical wisdom from God's perspective.
Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes
Psalms: Poetic books aimed at revealing truth about God and humanity through artistic, visceral language. Often employ metaphor and other poetic devices.
Psalms, Song of Solomon, Lamentations
Prophecy: Books spoken by God's prophets primarily to the people of Israel. These books often call Israelites to repent of their wicked ways and turn back to God.
Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi
Apocalypse: These books describe the end of the world. They also employ figurative language.
Last Half of Daniel, Revelation
Gospel: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John
These books tell the story of the life of Jesus our Savior!
Epistle: Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, James, 1 and 2 Peter, 1, 2, and 3 John, Jude
These are books written by Jesus' apostles to the earliest churches and Christians. They teach both truth about God and practical advice on living. These books apply to us as Christians most directly.
The difference between the Old Testament and the New?
The Old Testament spans from Genesis to Malachi. It covers God's big story from the creation of the world through the story of the people of Israel. The New Testament begins with the story of Jesus and follows the story of the early church.
Some Big Words That Make You Sound Smart
A few big words that will make you the life of the party at a seminary student get together!
Eisegesis: Coming to a text with a preconceived idea of what you think it should say, and then reading that meaning into a text, even if it's not really there. A.k.a. doing a bad job at Bible study!
Exegesis: Looking at a text honestly, trying to uncover its original meaning without bias. A.k.a doing a good job at Bible study!
Why All the Different Translations?
Ever notice that there are different versions of the English Bible? Ever wonder why? A few things to know:
- All those versions are different translations done by different groups of Christian scholars. But all of those translations are based on the same set of original Greek and Hebrew texts that historians and archaeologists have discovered. We have lots of old Greek and Hebrew texts. We're actually much more sure of what the original Biblical authors wrote than other non-Biblical books written during the same time periods! Translation: All Biblical translations are doing their best to help people understand what the original Greek and Hebrew writings said!
- However, translation is a tricky process. There a different concerns to balance. The biggest two things to keep in mind are Formal Equivalence and Dynamic Equivalence.
- Formal Equivalence: Trying to replicate the original Greek or Hebrew words in English with a 1:1 correlation. This sounds noble, but it can sometimes confuse the original meaning where idioms or expressions were used.
- Dynamic Equivalence: Trying to replicate the meaning of the original Greek or Hebrew text with corresponding English sentences. This also sounds very noble, but sometimes the original Greek or Hebrew nuances are not clear and the translator may be forcing the original text into a box it's not meant to be in!
- For more information on this and a list of which translations fit into which category go here!