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Reflections on Inductive Bible Study part 2 by Ajith Fernando
See yesterday's post for more of Ajith's thoughts on Inductive Bible Study. -AR
Greek and Hebrew study is not essential for inductive study but it greatly enhances it. I’ve always maintained that the most influential Bible teacher in my life is my mother, who may never even have attended any class on how to study the Bible. Certainly, she does not know any Greek or Hebrew. But I believe a knowledge of the original languages really helps those who are going to teach the Word of God to God’s people.
One of the greatest values of learning the original languages is that of getting a feel of the background from which the eternal Word came. You sense the atmosphere of scripture and that helps you interpret more accurately. Recent advances in the study of semantics (relating to the meaning of language) are helping us to be careful in not coming to unnecessary conclusions when we study the Bible, especially using the original languages. The most helpful book I have read on this is D. A. Carson’s Exegetical Fallacies (Baker).
You can see that I do not agree with those who say that, with the multiplicity of translations and all the commentaries and other resources available today, we can do away with the study of the original languages in seminaries. Those who lead God’s people into understanding God’s Word would be greatly helped if they get a feel of how the Bible was written originally by studying the original languages. It is hard work, and today with all the resources we have to access information quickly, studying what the original language says seems to be very counter-cultural. But our Seminaries are primarily not in the business of producing technicians who know how to handle available resources. They are in the business of nurturing men and women of the Word—people who can not only access resources but also who can think biblically, people who have a close relationship with the greatest wealth there is in the world—the Word of God. It is worth going through rigorous study in order to become more skilled in handling such a great treasure.
A SPECIAL NOTE: I have Struck Gold! Colour pencils are great friends of inductive study, as they help you highlight the different themes that appear in a passage. For years I have been looking for a good colour pencil marker which will not damage or seep through Bible paper. The American company Crayola is now selling "Twistables Colored Pencils." There are 12 or 20 different colours in a set. They have a point that can be retracted by twisting. And the colours can be easily erased. You often revise your interpretations in inductive Bible study and erasing is done often! I have been having fun marking up my Bible and my Deuteronomy manuscript! Try it, you’ll like it! If you can’t get this colour pencils and a pencil sharpener will do the job for you!
Ajith Fernando, ThM, DD, is national director of Youth for Christ in Sri Lanka and a Bible expositor with a worldwide ministry. He studied at Asbury Theological Seminary and Fuller Seminary, and presently leads the English language minatory in Colombo. He is active in Colombo Theological Seminary as chairman of the academic affairs committee. He is the author of Acts in the NIV Application Commentary series.
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