The Bible Study Handbook by Lindsay Olesberg: Chapters 6 and 7

BS Handbook

As we work our way through “The Bible Study Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide to an Essential Practice” by Lindsay Olesberg,we move now from the foundations (which you can read here and here) to the “Building Blocks.”

The foundations were her core convictions. The building blocks are the tools that help us study Scripture more effectively.

We will look at two building blocks this week: Honoring the author, and respecting  the story.

Chapter 6: Honor The Author

“The Bible is more like an encyclopedia than an epic novel.”

66 books. Many different authors. Over a thousand years in the making. This is not your everyday book.

God was trying to communicate incredibly important information to his people. And to do so, he used human authors. But these authors were not stenographers; they wrote using the style, language, idioms, rhetorical devices, and reference points of their cultures.

“They did not set out to write ‘timeless truth.’ They wrote for real communities, with real problems and challenges.

If we are going to be good students of the Bible, we need to do our best to understand and honor the authors of the texts. Why did they write? What was going on in that time? What were the needs of the community? What was happening in their world?

This will free us from reading our own issues and concerns into the text (though the text may end up speaking to our concerns) and makes the Bible, not us, the focal point.

Here are two questions Lindsay implores us to ask: What was the author trying to communicate? And How would this sound to the original readers?

Chapter 7: Respect for the Story

Have you ever been to a movie based on a beloved book only to leave disappointed because so much was changed? Did the movie makers even read the book?!

That is how God feels when you take things out of context.

Ok, I don’t know about that. But it is how I feel. And Lindsay.

“Faithful Biblical interpretation requires that we take the fullness of the Biblical narrative seriously, rather than edit it and simplify it to fit our agendas.”

That narrative has 5 parts:

  1. Creation and Fall
  2. Israel
  3. Jesus
  4. Church (the part currently taking place)
  5. Redemption

We have to learn these parts (or acts) and learn where different parts of the Bible fit into each one. Some books may have more than one! Yikes!

Lindsay then begins what might be the most helpful thing about the book. She walks you through a Bible Study where she looks for the things that she is teaching about. Using the story of Zaccheus from Luke, she shows you how to locate where it fits in the immediate context, where it fits in Luke, and where Luke fits in the Bible.

Super helpful.

How has honoring the author and respecting the story helped you as you study the Bible?