Genesis Part Four: Deep Dive
WHAT DO I DO WHEN I DON'T UNDERSTAND THE BIBLE?
Some people are scared of studying the Bible just in case they find a scripture that confuses them or perhaps even a scripture that they disagree with. The Bible is strong enough to stand up against any argument or study that you put it too. Our Christian walk is not based on blind faith, led by ignorance, our Christian faith is built upon a solid foundation of walking with God through the good and bad and wrestling with the Bible for all the truth that it contains. I love the story of Jacob wrestling with God, sometimes I imagine that is me when I read the Bible, I will wrestle with the text until it blesses me, until I am changed and transformed into the way it wants me to be not the other way around. Don’t study the Bible for it to fit into your way of thinking, we study the Bible so that our thinking comes into alignment with its truth!
So what happens if I come across a passage I don’t understand or even disagree with? That is where these commentaries come in, throughout this journey I will give you lists of books that have helped me in different areas so that you too can study and get the revelations and gems found in the Bible. A treasure isn’t found unless you get your hands dirty and get into the mess!
So the books that have helped me wrestle with the truths of the Old Testament are:
THE IVP BIBLE BACKGROUND COMMENTARY Old Testament John H Walton, Victor H Matthews and Mark W Chavalas. This great verse by verse study of the Old Testament is my first step when I am unsure of what the text means. It gives me the cultural background of the text to help me better understand the original intention of the text. This book covers all of the Old Testament in one volume, so is not too detailed but clear and concise. It is a little expensive.
The other commentaries I consulted while studying Genesis and Exodus are The Word Biblical Commentary by Gordon J Wenham. I used the Word Biblical Commentary as I wanted a deeper study rather than just book by book coverage, these are normally a harder read than the ones I normally use but I wanted to get a greater depth of study. The easier commentaries are Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries.
For a great overview of each book, you can’t go past An Introduction to the Old Testament Tremper Longman III & Raymond B Dillard. This is a great quick reference guide, interesting and theological.
For those visual learners who like to see maps, places, cultural details, you will love the Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary by John H Walton. These are a little expensive and come in the Old Testament series but they are a great visual look at the Old Testament.
For teachers and preachers: Something new I have just discovered, probably somewhat slow off the mark, is the Teach the Text Commentary Series, a creative look at the books with topics that you can preach, including historical context, Interpretive insights, theological insights, teaching the text and how to illustrate the text.
Anyway, here are some of the books will help you get the most out of your Bible reading. You can either grab one or two of these books or just use a commentary online to help you get more out of the text. Hope you love studying the Word with these great books and finding the incredible life changing truth that it contains.