On the use of Study Bibles

to be honest I don’t really use them, that much. 

In fact, I only have maybe two or three of them and rarely do I actually look at them.  This is not to say they are not useful or beneficial to the church.  They are very useful and very beneficial to the church – probably one of the most useful aspects of them are the introductions and the outlines. 

I once embarked on an inductive study of 1 John and spent quite a bit of time just reading through it over and over noting key words and phrases and making notes on a chart  and things.  When I was done I decided to look up 1 John in my NIV Study Bible and to my amazement, the outline and thoughts I had come up with was virtually identical to the NIV notes.   And this is probably how it should be.  If you study a book in depth and come up with something completely different than what is commonly stated you should probably be worried and maybe go back over some things.   My comparisons with the NIV Study Bible notes only confirmed I was going in the right direction – and perhaps this is really the biggest benefit of Study Bibles – they can help us be sure we’re going in the right direction with regards to how we are understanding the Bible text.

That aside, I have an MDiv (not that that makes me more special than anyone else), I have the tools needed to be able to write the notes most of the folks do who write the notes for the Study Bibles.  Well, of course they are more learned than myself but don’t miss my point – for pastors and teachers, who should have the training, Study Bibles shouldn’t be their main resources.

Who are Study Bibles most helpful for?  They are most helpful to those who don’t have the training and want a good resource for getting the needed guidance for properly understanding the biblical text.

But for those who have the training, I am not sure they should be used that often if at all.

What say you?

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5 responses to “On the use of Study Bibles

  1. Brian, you’r right on the money! A good study Bible can open up the world of the Bible and bring it to life for those of us who are not learned but have a hunger to know the God of the Bible. That’s what happened for me years ago with my first MacArthur SB. It opened my eyes! I devoured it!

    But as I have grown older and matured, I have less need for a study Bible, and I think that’s probably how it should be. A SB can still be handy for occasional reference and even to use as a “main” Bible, but a person should be relying less and less on the study notes, and getting more into the text itself.

    And of course, as you said, those with a M Div probably should have little use for a SB. Except for occasional reference.

  2. I agree. I’m not yet to the point where I am without need of my English but I’ve found my Oxford Study Bible to be rather bulky and in general no very helpful. A Reference Bible usually fits my needs better.

  3. I think often times they become crutches to the “unleaned” and the non-seminarians find themselves totally dependent on them. Even to the point if you challenge them to do outlines or other inductive methods, they get frustrated. We are so use to having someone tell us what to believe. Here is what I think. Get “Reading the Bible for all its worth” and “Living by the Book”. Buy a Concordance and Greek Dictionary and you will have 85% of the bible covered. Another tool is a resource on Biblical Theology explaining Redemptive History/Types and Shadows/Pictures and Fulfillments. I think leaders sitting with new disciples and walking them through this would be much more beneficial than study bibles.

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