Inductive Bible Study

Inductive Bible Study is all the rage. The fact is, if you read your Bible and take a few notes, you are engaging in some form of Inductive Bible Study. It may be a simple form or a modified form but it still falls within the parameters – observe, interpret and apply. Of course, if you so desire, you can get much more detailed in the three areas.inductive-bible-study

And, as you might well expect, there is no shortage of books and other communicative materials to assist you in learning the process. That is why there is a need to categorize these books into three areas – beginner, intermediate and advanced.

That leads us to the volume at hand – Inductive Bible Study: Observation, Interpretation, and Application through the Lenses of History, Literature, and Theology. The subtitle alone should provide a hint of the scope of this book. It is written by Richard Alan Fuhr, Jr. (Liberty University) and Andreas J. Kostenberger (Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary) and is published by B&H Academic.

Fuhr and Kostenberger provide a highly detailed methodology for Bible study. In their discussion of the observation stage we receive instruction on common sense observation described in theological jargon. That continues to a greater degree in the interpretation arena. Fortunately, the application arena is more practical.

At times this volume has the feel of being a sequel to a book previously co-authored by Kostenberger: Invitation to Biblical Interpretation: Exploring the Hermeneutical Triad of History, Literature, and Theology. You’ll discover that immediately if you are a footnote aficionado.

Mostly this book presented the Inductive Bible Study method as being very structured. While an orderly system or method must be adhered to when doing Bible study, one must be cautious not to stifle the leading of the Holy Spirit. This is a precautionary note, but must be kept in mind.

With this all written, if you are serious about Bible study, this is a volume to have at your disposal. My recommendation is that the book is good for theologians and pastors but you will need to have a firm grasp on the Inductive Bible Study method before embarking on this volume. It is definitely not for beginners. It definitely falls into the advanced category of Inductive Bible Study volumes.

Disclaimer: This volume was provided to me for a fair and honest review.

The Essence of the New Testament

In a world that is awash in volumes concerning New Testament Surveys and Introductions, we have a new entry (well, it’s a second edition entry) – The Essence of the New Testament: A Survey. It was published by B&H Academic. It is outstanding!the-essence-of-the-nt

So with such a multitude of surveys, what would make this standout from all the others?

The editors and contributors. This volume is edited by Elmer Towns and Ben Gutierrez. Towns, of course, is a well-known figure in evangelical circles and a prolific writer (over 170 books plus countless articles) and a co-founder of Liberty University. Gutierrez is a Ph.D. and professor at Liberty. The seven contributors (along with Towns and Gutierrez) are all conservative scholars and professors.

The quality and conciseness. One of the trends in New Testament survey books is an overabundance of information that might be more suited for advanced study. But not with The Essence of the New Testament. The authors have obviously made a determined effort to filter the extraneous and present vital and essential information without trying to weigh down the reader.

The book opens with four chapters on introductory material leading with “How We Got the New Testament.” Each entry on the twenty-seven books of the NT contains the standard biblical background information – author, recipients, occasion and date, and outline. This is followed by a brief commentary entitled the “Message” that follows the structure of the outline adding to the smooth flow of the book and ease of understanding.

The end of each book has study questions and a brief bibliography and there are also a multitude of pictures and a number of charts that further facilitate the explanation of the particular NT book.

The viability for Christians. One of the most attractive qualities of this book is that it will have appeal to a majority of believers. It is straightforward and easy to follow – no linguistic tricks and no ivory tower theological language. It is a reference volume that the inquisitive Bible student will want to have at the ready when studying any book of the New Testament. (I have a vison of someone studying Colossians with the Bible in front, a notepad to one side and The Essence of the New Testament on the other.)

This is a must-have volume for every Christian especially teachers and preachers. It is a double must-have volume for new believers and first year Bible college students. It is a classic Bible educational tool. This volume will pique the student’s curiosity for more information.

Disclaimer: This volume was provided to me by B&H Academic for a fair and honest review.

The Cradle, the Cross and the Crown

This is the second edition of The Cradle, the Cross and the Crown: An Introduction to the New Testament by B&H Academic Publishers. The authors, Andreas Kostenberger, L. Scott Kellum and Charles Quarles, are all experts in the arena of the New Testament. There is no lack of New Testament scholarship.The Cradle.png

This is a “big” book – literally and figuratively. This volume is a massive undertaking. It is big literally because it encompasses 1130 pages (not including an excellent map section in the back) and weighs nearly four pounds. It is probably not a volume to be carried any great distance in your backpack.

It is big figuratively due to its importance. It is comprehensive in that it deals with virtually every area of the New Testament but not exhaustive hence a wide-ranging bibliography at the end of each chapter.

The book begins with a two chapter Introduction on “The Nature and Scope of Scripture” and “The Political and Religious Background of the New Testament.” These chapters will educate and should inspire any New Testament pupil. Chapter 3 is a 106 page examination of “Jesus and the Relationship Between the Gospels,” encompassing nearly every issue that might challenge the student. Following chapter 1-3 is a book-by-book introduction to each of twenty-seven books of the New Testament.

Every chapter begins with a “Core Knowledge” section describing the knowledge expected at a Basic, Intermediate and Advanced level – an excellent tool to determine where one stands concerning the subject matter. Subsequent to this each chapter concludes with a series of study questions which would serve well on a final examination (thus the classification as a textbook).

While this is primarily a textbook, it is at the same time a ready reference for the New Testament. For any serious student of the New Testament this should be a go-to volume. If you love the Word of God, this is a book that should be on your bookshelf and referred to frequently.

Disclaimer: This book was provided to me by B&H Academic for a fair and honest review.

Unlocking the Bible

In a world of Christian literature that can boast a multitude of volumes on bibliology, you might think to yourself, “What? Another one?” And from the title of this volume – Unlocking the Bible: What It is, How We Got It, and Why We Can Trust It – you might think that this is just another rehash of material in defense of the Bible. And, in a way, it is a bit of that. But, it is more than that. Yes, there is a chapter on “How We Got the Bible” and one on “Why We Can Trust the Bible,” the obligatory chapters. However, there are also chapters on “Understanding the Old Testament and New Testament.” And then there’s still more. (More on that in a minute.)unlocking-the-bible

The book is written by Jeff Lasseigne, an administrative pastor with Harvest Christian Fellowship who teaches the midweek Bible Study. It is published by Baker Books. The book has two main sections: “The Big Picture” and “Books of the Bible.”

Included in “The Big Picture” and, as mentioned previously, he has included separate chapters on “Understanding the Old Testament and New Testament.” Interestingly, in between these two chapters he has inserted a chapter on “The Sounds of Silence” which gives historical background on the 400 silent years. It contains excellent historical background leading to the New Testament providing an excellent segue. This is a welcome chapter which is usually not found in books of this category.

The big surprise comes in Part 2: “Books of the Bible.” It contains a very short study of each book of the Bible. The studies are brief yet informative. These studies are a product of his midweek Bible study class.

When you put these elements together, this book is the perfect introductory volume to the Bible. It is ideal for new Christians. Lasseigne has skillfully written the material in a manner that will give new believer a firm grasp on not only what the Bible is, but also what the Bible contains. It is the perfect Bible primer.

I highly recommend this book as an entry level volume to the world of bibliology. Pastors, if you’re leading a new believer’s class, this would be a first-rate text.

Disclaimer: This book was provided to me by Baker Books for a fair and honest review

The Message of the Twelve

Okay, so, if you just saw the title of this book, what do you think the subject matter concerns? Come on now, be honest! How many thought it dealt with the twelve apostles? I’ll bet a very high percentage. If you went with the twelve apostles, you were mistaken.the-message-of-the-twelve

Now the full title: The Message of the Twelve: Hearing the Voice of the Minor Prophets. It’s all about the last twelve books of the Old Testament. The book is written by Richard Alan Fuhr, Jr. and Gary E. Yates. Both are professors at Liberty University School of Divinity. Fuhr deals in biblical studies and Yates in Old Testament studies. The book is published by B&H Academic.

If you have never applied yourself to a study of the minor prophets (as I suspect many have not) and you have a desire to do so, but don’t know where to begin, this is definitely a volume, if not THE volume, with which to begin. Although it’s been written by two scholars, it is designed for pastors, teachers and even personal study.

The book has two major sections although they are not designated as such in the Table of Contents. Chapters one through four comprise introductory matter familiarizing us with the twelve minor prophets and their world. Then in chapters five through sixteen Fuhr and Yates take us through a book-by-book study of each of the prophets in biblical order. Each of these twelve chapters follows a similar arrangement – Introduction, Structure, Exposition and Theological Message and Application. Scattered throughout the volume are diagnostic charts to assist in the understanding of the prophet. There is an extensive bibliography at the end for those who wish to dig in even deeper.

To gain the maximum understanding, my suggestion for using this book is to read and digest chapters 1-4 and then systematically study chapters 5-16. Have your favorite Bible and a notepad beside you when you commence. While this is not the be-all, end-all commentary on the minor prophets, it is comprehensive and you will leave this book feeling like a “minor scholar” on the minor prophets.

Pastors and teachers should rush to procure this volume especially if the minor prophets are in their near future.

Disclaimer: This book was provided to me by B&H Publishing for a fair and honest review.

Sweeter Than Honey, Richer Than Gold

Let me ask you, do you like reading the poetical literature in the Bible? The answer will surely be an almost unanimous “Yes.” Everyone especially loves reading the Psalms. So the next question would be, How deep do you dig in? Most of us get out our spiritual trowel and scrape a little off the top, never getting down into the roots.Sweeter Than Honey

But how would you like to go to the unfathomable depths? Would you like to know how it’s all put together so you can get more meaning from it? If the answer is “Yes,” then I would highly (very decidedly) recommend Sweeter Than Honey, Richer Than Gold: A Guided Study of Biblical Poetry.

Sweeter Than Honey … is the second of the series Reading the Bible as Literature by Leland Ryken published by Weaver Book Company. (The first was How Bible Stories Work.) Ryken holds a Ph.D. from the University of Oregon and is Professor of English Emeritus at Wheaton College and a literary expert extraordinaire.

Ryken begins this volume with a brief introduction to biblical poetry in general providing a definition and the spiritual benefits of it. The remainder of the book is divided into two parts: “The Language Poets Use: and “The Composition of Biblical Poems.” Part one guides us clearly and gently through the technicalities of poetry using biblical examples. You will immediately begin to appreciate the poetry of the Bible as you read through this part.

In part two Ryken concentrates on the uniqueness of biblical poetry. Here we find the depths of poetry with a biblical focus. The author demonstrates that with a greater understanding of biblical poetry works, we can glean boundless meaning.

As with the first book each of the seven chapters includes a “Learning by Doing” section at the end. This is why I recommend that you “study” through this book as opposed to “read” through it. This volume is not just for Bible scholars. Rather it is for those who enjoy the challenge of digging in to Scripture with the proper tools. (Think of it as a spiritual archeological dig.)

Buy it, read it, study it and get your highlighter out.

Disclaimer: This book was provided to me by Weaver Book Company for a fair and honest review.