A new edition of the ESV Journaling Bible is now available. It features a terra cotta/sage cover and an elastic strap. Like other editions of the Journaling Bible, it has nearly two-inch margins for note-taking.
The blogger at To Tell You the Truth provides some tips for reading and understanding Scripture. Selected quotes:
- Scripture as Story: “I read Scripture as a grand story, the story of Redemption. When all of Scripture is read in this way, we will not see the individual stories as moral lessons or as mere examples of what to do and what not to do in life.”
- Christ-Centered View of Scripture: “The grand story of Scripture revolves around Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”
- Never Read a Single Verse: “Read at least a paragraph of Scripture when you read Scripture. But also try to read a book in one (maybe two) sitting(s). These books and letters in Scripture were written as a whole and were initially read in whole. We should strive to read each book in whole.”
- Scripture as Spoken Word: “I believe we must also listen to Scripture being read in our personal time. You will pick up things from Scripture while listening that you may not pick up so easily while reading. You will most likely have more time to listen to Scripture than you will to read Scripture. Take all the opportunities to immerse yourself in Scripture—It is also a good thing to listen to the Scripture while reading at the same time.”
- Scripture as Prayer: “The many times that I do not know what to say in my prayer times, I turn to Scripture and pray passages back to God”
- Knowing God: “The purpose of Scripture is not that we become holy. The purpose of Scripture is to know this Triune God Who has revealed Himself in Scripture. Becoming holy is a byproduct of knowing God through Christ.”
- Spend MUCH Time and Effort Studying Scripture: “I believe the blood, sweat, and tears we pour into understanding the Scriptures is immeasurable!”
- Listen to Sermons: “There are so many Gospel-Centered preachers out there that have their sermons on the internet. Seek them out!”
- Practice What You Read and Learn: “Accountability is huge in this area…. Place yourself under accountability so that you may learn to practice what you learn and read.”
- Rely on Grace: “Grace is the thread by which all of these are tied together.”
Romilayu at Atticus Is Dead asks whether we should translate Isaiah 9:6 as “Wonderful Counselor” or “Wonderful, Counselor” (with a comma):
Some translations (KJV, NKJV, WEB, RSV, ASV) call Christ both wonderful and a counselor, but not a “wonderful counselor” while other translations (NIV, NASB, ESV[, NLT, HCSB]) call him indeed a “Wonderful Counselor.” Even the NIV allows for a mistranslation by putting a footnote that reads “also Wonderful, Counselor.”
More recent translations tend to use “Wonderful Counselor.” The NET Bible notes give you some more background on this verse if you want to know more.
Hank at Think Wink proposes that churches should teach their members Greek in Sunday School:
However, what if the churches over the country began to teach a basic understand of Greek and Hebrew and could point people in the direction of some free resources that can help the readers get into the original language? This is possible but it requires first that each and every church have a person on hand with a working and teachable knowledge of the languages, which is hard….
Now the only question, how could you get everyone in the church together to learn the languages? My solution is Sunday School. Sunday School was originally a school that little children attended to learn to read, write, and to learn math. It has lost that emphasis over time to either its benefit or detriment—you decide. But this is a perfect place to offer that kind of basic knowledge for maybe the length of a school semester, from August to December or from February to May. That’s all it would take. It need not be an in depth study of the languages but just enough so that the people can look at the language and pick out what kinds of verbs there are, how words decline and parse. Then, the church could make a good concordance available to be purchased by the people or give links to websites that have free lexicons and concordances. I use www.studylight.org to help with my verbs because I learn those this spring.
Go comment at Hank’s post if you want to help him refine his ideas or, especially, if you know of a church that’s done something akin to what Hank suggests.
Bible software might help you learn Greek in a church context. Most Bible study software comes with tools to help you learn Greek. Logos Bible Software, for example, lets you create vocabulary lists and print flashcards. One of the most useful features is creating a vocabulary list from a given passage. They’ve also made available vocabulary lists for some of the more popular grammar books.
If you prefer to go the web route, Hank mentions one website. Zhubert.com is another useful site that has study tools built-in. (It does passage vocabulary lists and flashcards, for example.)
A big part of learning Greek (or any language) is staying motivated once your initial enthusiasm wears off. A formal class in church, as Hank suggests, might help sustain you. Just picking up the basics of the biblical languages enhances the usefulness of reference works like the ESV Reverse Interlinear New Testament, which comes with many versions of Logos. The Logos version lets you easily explore the Greek New Testament right from the Reverse Interlinear.
Mark Driscoll explains why he’s now preaching from the ESV.
The conclusion contains some wisdom about avoiding division over Bible translations:
In the history of Mars Hill Church we have never divided over the issue of Bible translations. We have always maintained that various translations have various strengths and weaknesses and that the student of Scripture benefits from enjoying multiple translations. Furthermore, we have always praised God for every good English translation and trust God the Holy Spirit to use them to transform our lives.
Therefore, we would not discourage our people from enjoying multiple good English translations of Scripture. However, we would encourage them to use the English Standard Version or another good word-for-word translation as their primary study tool while also using other translations as secondary resources for their studies.
Lastly, while purchasing a study Bible can be quite expensive, it is imperative that every serious student of the Bible invest some money purchasing at least one nice Bible with some helps (footnotes, cross-references, etc.) and room for their notes. When buying a Bible, the general rule is that the more money you spend, the better the quality of paper, binding, and leather you will receive. If you are planning to read your primary Bible a lot, fill it with notes, and keep it for a long time, you will want to invest in a good Bible so that it lasts.