Monday, November 13, 2006



Last Saturday I went to a follow up workshop on inductive bible studies. The speaker was a Pastor from Cochabamba, one of the major cities in Bolivia. He bought a large number of inductive study Bibles which sold like hotcakes. These special bibles are huge with no headings or a predeterimined outline of texts which make up the books of the Bible(yes, the Bible is actually a library of 66 books and letters). With these Bibles however you get to work on the text and do your own outlines. The method rests on three pillars: observation, interpretation, application. There are of course several sub points which undergird each pillar. The essence of the method is diligent and careful reading of the text. This simple discipline helps the reader to understand the message of the book. It would be however an error to ossify the results of the inductive study method. Biblical scholarship always challenges you to think afresh about a particular book or a text. Its as if the texts are growing organisms!! This of course means that our outlines need to be revised and upgraded.

In the last decade or so we've been "blessed" or assailed by all sorts of study bibles which basically spares the reader the hard work of reading slowly, examining the flow of the text and determing the structure of a given passage or a book. All this does is to help people see the bible in terms of someone else's viewpoint and does not really encourage the reader to dig deep into the word.

The inductive bible study helps one see the literary patterns and structure of the text and it is this seeing that helps one to dig the scriptures for its jewels.

I don't know of any method or system which gets readers into scriptures like the inductive method. There are no fancy books to read or a theologian's name to refer to. It requires work but the payoff is worth it.

One of the best motivational prayers for the inductive bible study method comes from an ancient collect in the Anglican Book Of Common Prayer. Here it is:

Proper 28 The Sunday closest to November 16

Blessed Lord, who hast caused all holy Scriptures to be
written for our learning: Grant that we may in such wise
hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them; that,
by patience and comfort of thy holy Word, we may embrace
and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which
thou hast given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who liveth and
reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and
ever. Amen.

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