Scripture Study: Think Novel or Encylopedia?

February 28, 2008

Chew over this comment about context:

“When you use the encyclopedia you simply turn to the entry you are interested in, say ‘Asparagus.’ The fact that the entry before ‘Asparagus’ was on ‘Asps’ (cobras) and the one after it was on ‘Aspartame’ (an artificial sweetener) is irrelevant. In fact, you don’t even look at them, unless you get bored with reading about asparagus.

Imagine reading a novel in the same way: you open the book up halfway through, and read the third paragraph down. Try it if you like. We can guarantee it won’t make much sense. You don’t know who the characters are or how the plot is unfolding; you have no idea what is going on. That is why we read a novel from beginning to end.

Which of these two approaches should we use when we read the bible?

(Nigel Benyon and Andrew Sach, Dig Deeper, pg 36)



  1. Oh, I know this one…

    Er… er…


  2. The rest of the quote…

    “We should treat it more like a novel. Not that we have to read the whole thing from beginning to end every time we open it. But we do need to recognise that individual chapters are connected to what comes before and after. Context matters! In fact, as someone has said, a text without a context is a con.” (Benyon and Sach – the rest of the quote)

  3. Which is why, when preaching a text, we need to read a chapter or two before and after. Most OT books and the Gospels are long enough to do that. If preaching from some of the shorter OT books or the NT epistles, you should read the entire book to get the context of the text.

  4. I might have slightly misunderstood the quote… I thought it was asking if we should dip in and out of Novels.

    With the scriptures, we must understand the context of the verses we are preaching. May be we need to read a few chapters or maybe we need to read twenty – either way, the workman must WORK!

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