The ESV recently became available as part of the free Bible Explorer program, from the makers of WORDsearch Bible Software.
Paul at Cup of Coffee Talk has been blogging about how to prepare an exegetical sermon. Paul has made an extra effort to make his posts applicable to general Bible study—in other words, the tips he provides will help you study a passage in-depth even if you don’t plan to preach a sermon on it.
Here’s what he’s blogged so far:
- Reading and Prayer. “As I am preparing to preach a passage the first thing that I do is read over the text in English praying my way through the passage…. In this step I simply try to take the passage in, and let the Holy Spirit use it in my life. During this time I read through the passage that I will be preaching on, as well as immediate and greater context. I try my best not to be thinking about outlines or commentaries in this step.”
- Grammatical Analysis. “Normally I simply print out the Greek text of the passage with plenty of space to write between the lines. I then identify all the words and how they fit grammatically. Finally, I produce my own translation of the passage….. If you do not know Greek then you… can take the English text and find the nouns and verbs and pronouns. Look at every word and try to determine how it functions grammatically within the passage. You will not believe how profitable this short exercise will be in your own study of God’s word.”
- Diagramming. “There are many forms that are used to do this, but I use a simple block diagramming method. For those of you who do not know Greek I would highly encourage you to still use this method in English. The idea is to push all of the important verbs to the left, and all of the modifiers to the right.” (pdf illustration)
- Analytical Outline. “This step takes the Greek grammatical work that we did in the last step and transitions into an English outline. This outline simply takes the text and breaks down the logic of the passage (which was determined in the previous section).”
- Homiletical (Preaching) Outline. “We have attained as much of the data as we can and it is time to put ourselves to work on presenting this data in sermon form. This is where to ‘art of preaching’ comes in. We must figure out how to take our hours of study and convert [it] into less than an hour. And in that time we must also remember that the very souls of our listeners might very well be at stake. This makes the ‘art of preaching’ the most sacred of all arts.”
Richard at food4thought blogs about a book that lists sixteen tools to have in your biblical interpretation toolbox. We quote excerpts from his post here, but head over to Richard’s blog for more details.
- Author’s Purpose
We need to get beyond what is said, important though that is, to asking the question why it’s been said.
We need to understand how what we’re studying fits in with what precedes it and what follows it.
In paying attention to the structure of a passage we need to ask first, “how has the author broken down his material into sections?” and secondly, “how do those sections fit together?”
- Linking Words
Linking words help us see the logical flow of an argument because they reveal the cause and effect relationships between different statements.
Biblical poetry makes great use of parallelism.
- Narrator’s Comment
Particularly in narrative sections the author may interrupt the narrative flow to provide a much needed commentary on what’s going on.
The Bible like every other field of expertise has its own distinctive vocabulary.
Comparing a dynamic equivalent [DE] translation like the NIV or NLT with an essentially literal [EL] translation like the ESV or the NASB can be a useful exercise.
- Tone and Feel
When we come to the Bible we need not only pay attention to the point being made but also how it is being made.
When an author repeats something it’s usually because he wants to get our attention.
Bible writers often quote from other writers and it can be helpful to look up the original context of a quotation.
Genre is a way of classifying media according to their type or style rather than specific content or storyline.
Sometimes we’re supposed to follow the example of people we read about in the Bible, though not always! We need to be wary of making narrative normative!
- Bible Timeline
We need to locate the events in salvation history.
- “Who am I?”
This helps us work out whether we’re supposed to identify with any character within a passage.
- “So What?”
We need to read the Bible and ask, “what does this mean for me and my life?”
These tools are from Dig Deeper!, a book that’s not available yet in the U.S.
Phillip at the blog of First Presbyterian Church in Kosciusko, Mississippi, has finally come around to the ESV:
When the ESV was released in 2001, a lot of men I respected were quite enthusiastic about it and promoted it heavily. I was skeptical and reasoned sarcastically, Just what we need: ANOTHER Bible translation. My skepticism and anti-trendiness ran so deeply that I did not purchase one until January 2003. I put it to a 2-year trial as my daily read-the-Bible-through-in-a-year Bible. Then I caught on to what a good work this translation is. I first used it in the public ministry of reading and preaching in early 2005 in Macon, Mississippi, for an evening series on 2 Peter and Jude. I now use it exclusively in my private devotional reading, family worship, and public ministry and whole-heartedly encourage others to do the same.
As always, we appreciate everyone who blogs about the ESV.
Update: Henry Neufeld has related thoughts.
Thabiti Anyabwile reflects on a recent missions trip he took to southeast Asia that, in part, involved distributing some ESV Bibles to Muslims:
The 10 days or so in southeast Asia were packed! The first night there was the night of the Christian-Muslim dialogue. We were discussing the question “Who Is Jesus Christ? In Light of the Bible and the Qu’ran”. This is a topic that the Muslims insisted on… and so we happily obliged! As far as the folks there are aware, this is the first time that this question has been openly discussed in a public forum by Christians and Muslims in any country in that region. A couple hundred folks (90% Muslim) turned out on just three days advertisement. Nearly 100 ESV Bibles were distributed. And to be sure, this is the first time most of them have heard the Gospel proclaimed in person.
Thabiti is also a Crossway author.