The Bible is an amazing book, full of history and stories of faith. There’s more to the Bible than just learning the concept that “Jesus loves me” or discovering heroes like David who conquered Goliath or Sampson who fought off a lion with a donkey’s jawbone. The Bible is a timeline of life and salvation for the human race with poetry and prose mixed in as well as the prophetic and the divine.
If you have been reading the Bible and want a new perspective, here are a few things to consider as help for you to gain a greater understanding of God’s written Word!
History: The Bible is an old book! It’s very old! The Bible wasn’t written in one sitting by one person either. Many authors contributed to the writing of the book including Moses, King David and Paul, spanning hundreds of years. Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible, also called the Pentateuch, which include Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. Just the names of the books can give you study material: what is a “genesis” or an “exodus” and how does it relate to the writings in the book? Why is Numbers called Numbers? What does “Deuteronomy” mean? Even the word Pentateuch can be broken down using a dictionary or online resource to discover it means “five books” and is part of the sacred Torah studied by Jews.
Authors: As mentioned, Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible, but who wrote Lamentations? You may think David authored this book, but it was actually the prophet Jeremiah. When you find out who wrote the book, do a little research on this person. When did they live? Where? What trials and tribulations did they face? Were they a leader of the nation of Israel like King David or King Solomon or were they less “important” men in their current society? Using the internet you can do a lot of research and access historic information about the time the book you are studying was written.
Read through each verse a few times and consider each word. Also consider the theme of the book: is it a prophetic book, poetry, a genealogical record (much like the book of Numbers) or a book of the law (such as Deuteronomy). If you come across an interesting passage, stop and consider it for a bit. Look up each word in a concordance and see where else certain thoughts or ideas are repeated throughout the Bible. If you really love research, use a concordance that shows original Greek, Hebrew, Chaldean or Aramaic words. Some foreign languages represent a concept that is more than a word in the English language. For example, Micah, one of the books in the Old Testament, is translated to mean “Who is like Yaweh?” This type of research adds deeper meaning to your studies, giving you a larger perspective on the Bible and little nuggets of wisdom that are hidden throughout!