Steve Burchett over at the Christian Communicators blog writes an article warning folks to be careful of Study Bibles when actually studying the Bible. He says it is easy to get too involved in the notes and not the actual biblical text. Its easy to over focus on what the notes say and miss really thinking a passage through, then consulting the notes.
He writes in part:
Does this mean you should throw away your Study Bible? No, but consider three ways to guard against misusing this tool:
- Don’t use a Study Bible as your primary Bible. Regular Bible reading, group study, and personal study should be out of a Bible without study notes. This eliminates the temptation to look away from what God has said.
- Before you pull your Study Bible(s) off the shelf, force yourself to think hard about the text of Scripture alone. The person who “looks intently” at God’s Word and lives it out is “blessed in what he does” (James 1:25). You may even want to purchase a Bible with wide margins in order to write down your thoughts, or maybe a notebook or journal.
- When you struggle to figure out what a verse or passage means, ask the Lord for help. You’ll be amazed at what He helps you comprehend. If you still don’t understand what you are reading, ask Him again and meditate longer. How often do we skip this vital step of depending upon the Lord? Who is more resourceful, a biblical scholar or God?
I say, of course. He’d agree they have their place and are of benefit to the church, but I think he could be right, some get too over focused on the notes and need to just spend some time reading and thinking through the text (and the surrounding context). Most importantly, and he mentions this, is do we apply it to life? Do we put it into practice?