The Simplest Way to Study the Bible (alone or in a group)

I've spent years and years honing my skills in proper biblical interpretation, and yet I continue to buy books on how to study the Bible. Mostly because I've found that while my skills are useful to me, the systems I've been taught are almost entirely useless for those without formal biblical education. And as my passion is helping normal people interpret and understand the Bible, I've had to look elsewhere.

One method (if you can call it that) is James Gray's book How to Master the English Bible. I love so much about this, that it's usually the first thing I recommend to people who want to get started. First thing, it's short. Like, read it in 2hrs short. Second, it's built around a love of God's word and a belief in it's clarity. Some systems can take a passage and make it stand on its head, whereas this system's foundational belief is that God has spoken and we can understand him.

Here it is:

  1. Read the whole book of the Bible through in one sitting (i.e., Ephesians)
  2. Do it again
  3. And again
  4. And again
And there you have it! What he then points out is that structure and purpose begin to leap off the pages. When I was taught the traditional historical-critical method, I found that I would study one section of the text so much to the exclusion of everything else that I frequently felt like I was digging in an inch of dirt. I had a basic idea of what the dirt was, and could describe certain particles of dirt better than anyone else, but I hadn't really experienced what it was like to dig my hands deep in the soil.

I started recommending this method to some guys at my church's men's breakfast a few years ago and am now leading a small group using this method. We just went through Jonah and the best part was guys who had little or no formal training where outlining the book and making judgments based on structure and purpose. Not only that, but then we pushed through to see how God reveals himself in the story of the entire book and tried to apply that to our lives. It's an entirely different experience than parsing out participles and tracking the back and forth of a phrase or paragraph. We walked away knowing that book better than we ever had before.

I wrote a 5-week study guide to go along with the book. It takes the same method I've used to make outlining and large-scale structural questions available to those who haven't been trained. I suggest you choose a book of the bible to begin reading over and over at the start of the book and I'll help you apply some of his principles as the book continues. If you pick Jonah like I suggest in the first week's study, then I'll have further follow-up questions for you in case you are getting stuck.

The book and the study guide are $2 (actually $2+ which means you can pay more if you like) and if you buy it off my website then you get an extra license so you can give it to a friend and go through it together. Any and all funds made off of this book will go to pay for my son's medical expenses.

Buy How to Master the English Bible

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