Thread: Where to begin study Board: Kerygmania / Ship of Fools.

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Posted by Unum Solum (# 18904) on :
I have always had an unspoken inner dialogue that if money was no object (I work for a living not for fun) then I would like to study the Bible (not sure if that is what it means to study theology).

I love reading and listening for those who are able to decipher things scriptural, rightly or wrongly, and convey it. Now I know that knowing the Bible is not the same as knowing God, but it is a fascinating collection of books.

So while I am not ignorant of the Bible I wonder if anyone would be able to offer some guidance on where to start, given that I am talking about doing this on my own. I bought an ESV study Bible last year, I have the internet, I have no shortage of pencils and paper.

Any thoughts welcome.
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
Take the ESV back to the store if you still have the receipt (here's why) and get an interlinear New Testament, preferably one with an ecumenical translation.

Better still, get one with word-for-word English under the Greek and two other versions alongside - I have this arrangement in French.

Alongside that, get a Bible that makes no pretence of being accurate (as the ESV does) but which facilitates reading entire books at a stretch, like The Message.

[ 06. February 2018, 15:41: Message edited by: Eutychus ]
Posted by Nigel M (# 11256) on :
If money was no object, I would certainly recommend:

[1] Studying the biblical languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek) and – spare not the cash – go on to get a decent understanding of some other ancient near eastern languages under the belt (e.g. Akkadian, Sumerian, Imperial Aramaic), so as to be able to read relevant texts that throw light on the context of those biblical languages.

[2] Get a handle on understanding textual criticism – how the biblical texts come to us and how that process throws up useful issues to bear in mind.

[3] If [1] above is not an option for whatever reason, have to hand a few versions in your preferred language to see interesting chosen options. This should prompt questions about why there are differences.

[4] Get as much information as possible on the surrounding context of the texts – the insights that have been coming to the fore in recent decades into the worldviews and mindsets that informed the biblical authors. Insights are especially useful when coming together from archaeology, sociology, and linguistics.

[5] Select a good few commentaries - not necessarily an entire series, but individual books from such series that have been written in recent decades and survived peer review, which concentrate on providing as much insight based on [1] to [4] above.

Harnessing the power of the computer and internet is useful; it would be worth investing in one of the biblical study platforms with digital books that interlink with each other, to save time in cross-referring. I use Logos Bible Software; I cannot comment on other platforms because I have not used them, but perhaps others who do, can. You don’t have to buy a set package, although that is what Logos promotes; the base platform is free and then you can purchase the individual books that you want. A package comes with bundles of stuff, most of which I suspect are never read by users.

It is not necessary to buy bibles on these platforms because they are free online at places like BibleGateway.

If money is really no object, then buy out Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft (The German Bible Society), hire the proponents of the Coherence-Based Genealogical Method’s Editio Critica Maior, and create a free cloud-based portal for all to access where the texts are placed and updated by experts, with links to all the variants, background, textual commentary, and Versions. A one-stop shop for bible research would be a boon to mankind.

Then have a cup of tea in a china cup. You can afford it.
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
I can see your thinking is bigger than mine. Unless the ESV Unum Solum bought was very expensive.

[ 10. February 2018, 11:53: Message edited by: Eutychus ]
Posted by Nigel M (# 11256) on :
I was quite surprised to read that Scot McKnight article you linked to. Thankfully, the publishers appear to have backtracked on the rather bizarre statement that any translation version could become the Ultimate. Actually, it might be the case that the desire of the publishers was to avoid the onerous task of keeping up a rolling programme of investment and resource in revising the translation, time and time again.

If anyone had taken an irrevocable decision to fix a translation exercise irrevocably with the irrevocability of irrevocableness, then (if money was no object) obviously we would have to go for the red letter, gold plated, Dodo hide-bound, original autograph edition coming out of the Unum Verum Publishing House. There would only be the one copy, of course.
Posted by Zappa (# 8433) on :
Originally posted by Nigel M:
If money was no object, I would certainly recommend ... ...
Then have a cup of tea in a china cup. You can afford it.

Holy moley! I'm not sure money would be the issue here. Apparently we only have one lifetime for now ...

I have a PhD in New Testament and have spent 30+ years teaching and preaching. There's no way I have even scratched the surface of those suggestions, and while I admit to being somewhat scatterbrained and undisciplined I don't think I'm totally a waste of space.

A wonderful scholarly and erudite archbishop of Melbourne once said that bible readers (including clergy) only need sufficient ancient language to read the commentators. I could spend the years left in my life chipping away at the level of mastery you suggest and it would be wasted time. I would nothing to scholarly discourse or really to my own knowledge when there are people like Luke Timothy Johnson, David Aune, Brendan Byrne, Dorothy Lee, Craig S. Keener (and I apologize for the gender imbalance but I don't have reference tools to hand) ... gosh the list is endless ... producing outstanding insight.

No ... find a local biblical scholar at a nearby faculty (PM me, Unum Solum, if names are needed, as I am not unfamiliar with your neck of the woods), track down a couple of commentaries on say Mark and John, Maybe Isaiah and Psalms, grab a half decent bible, and start scribbling notes on paper or in the margins.

Go well ... kia kaha*

(*okays hosts .. the two phrases mean roughly the same, the latter perhaps closer to "go strong")

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