Monday, December 27, 2010

Book Review: How to Understand Your Bible

book cover

How to Understand Your Bible,
Third Edition
by T. Norton Sterrett & Richard L. Schultz

ISBN-13: 978-0-8308-1093-2
Trade Paperback: 205 pages
Publisher: IVP Connect
Released: October 6, 2010

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description from Back Cover:
Have you ever felt like you can't make sense out of the Bible but wished you could? Then this book is for you.

Starting from scratch, Norton Sterrett presents the general rules for reading the Bible's ordinary language and moves on to specific principles that apply to special types of language such as parables, figures of speech, Hebrew poetry and symbols.

Richard Schultz has updated T. Norton Sterrett's classic beginner's guide to understanding the Bible, making it clearer and more helpful than ever before. He suggests some more recent reference tools and offers more examples from contemporary English translations. In a new concluding chapter he helps you try out the principles on Psalm 51.

You may begin as a beginner, but you will finish this book well equipped to understand the Bible and to experience its transforming power in your life.

My Review:
How to Understand Your Bible teaches you how to effectively study your Bible. This is the best book I've read on studying your Bible, partly because it goes further than the two other books I've read on the topic. It covered things like comparing confusing verses in different translations; using the Bible to interpret itself; using concordances, Bible dictionaries, and commentaries; and what things to take note of when reading. It encouraged the reader to consider the context of the verse, the author's purpose, and the historical and cultural background in which it was written.

The authors also taught how to take grammar, verb tenses, and figures of speech into consideration. They clearly explained the different figures of speech as well as symbols, types, idioms, parables, and the structure of Hebrew poetry. This additional information could make the difference between understanding a confusing passage or not.

I appreciated that the authors promoted studying the Bible as a whole to get a balanced, accurate view of what the Bible teaches on any subject. They included some suggestions on how to do this even if you don't have a lot of time. I also appreciated that the authors applied the information in each chapter on several verses as examples and then suggested specific verses for the reader to try it out on, too.

Anyone reading my blog knows I enjoy reading commentaries, books on the cultural background, and such, but some of the information was still new to me. Other things were things I only recently learned after years of studying the Bible. If you went to a Bible college and took Bible courses, then this book may not hold anything new. However, I think it's useful for everyone else interested in understanding their Bible better, and I highly recommend it.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Read the table of contents and part of chapter one.

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