Wednesday, January 16, 2008

After Luke: Beginning Study

I debated long and hard about which epistle should be next, but settled on Ephesians. Here is the difference between reading which a beginner should do a lot of, and studying, which is also necessary for a beginner.

There are many words in the Bible (and sometimes in other things we read) that we really don't know the meaning of. Many times we decide on a meaning that fits with our understanding of the context, and usually we are at least close. But at times we can miss a lot by assigning the wrong meaning to words, and in the case of the Bible, that is increased by the differences between the culture of the authors and our own.

Remember the goal here is to UNDERSTAND the Bible, and getting some basic groundwork is important, so that is what I will concentrate on in the near future. Exploring some tools and methods to overcome the basic hurdles that can trip up a beginning Bible student is a primary goal of this project.

Of course, the first step in studying Ephesians is to read it through. As it is a fairly short letter, it can be read in a few short sittings. (If you read through it in one sitting, you may find this whole guide to be somewhat oversimplified.) After reading it through, go back and begin a detailed study of each paragraph, verse and word in it. How to go about this detailed study I will cover in an article in a week or so.

To study the text, however, you will need to understand the words, and towards the goal of understanding the words, I will explore Bible dictionaries soon. In the mean time, you will also need a regular dictionary. I prefer Oxford, but Webster will do fine also. Desk size dictionaries are fine, but I would stay away from "pocket," "abridged," or "college" dictionaries.

The next article, however, will be aimed at those struggling with the simpler things. It will be for those who are either unChurched, or are in Churches that do not teach the Bible at all.

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