Walk Through The Bible
(A Basic Bible Course)
Introduction: How to Study the bible Systematically
The Rev. Dr. Winfred B. Vergara
Listen to a story from Max Anders:
“Many years ago, I decided I was going to master the Bible. I was going to begin with Genesis, read on to Revelation, and I wasn’t going to put it down until I understand it. I soon became hopelessly entangled in a jungle of fantastic stories, unpronounceable names, broken plots, unanswered questions, and endless genealogies. I stubbed my toe on Leviticus, sprained my ankle on Job, hit my head on Ecclesiastes, and fell headlong into the mud on Habakkuk… I was defeated. I threw my Bible down. Then one day, I discovered a key. With this key, the fog that enshrouded my understanding of the Bible began to lift up.” (From Max Anders: 30 Days to Understanding the Bible, c. 1988)
I fully identify myself with Anders and I guess so would many of you, so I decided to share what I learned over the years. I teach this Course at my home parish, St. James Church in Elmhurst, New York and I'm going to share with you, the written format. I hope that with this, I am able to impart the "key" that will help unlock the mysteries of the Holy Scriptures.
I have read many books on systematic Bible Study but two of them that I found simple and useful are Max Anders, “30 Days to Understanding the Bible” (Zondervan, Dickson, TN: c. 1988) and Harry N. Wendt, “The Bible’s Big Story: Our Story (Crossways, Minneapolis: c. 1997). I incorporated some of their insights into my own.
A. THE BIBLE AS A LIBRARY OF BOOKS
If you want to learn architecture, you must first learn how buildings are put together. If you want to study the development of the human being, you have to start from conception. A key to better understanding of the Bible, begins with the study of its structure and timelines.
This morning, I was re-arranging the books in my office and I was amazed to find out how in ten years of being in New York, I was able to accumulate so many books and papers. I tried to arrange them into themes or topics (e.g., liturgical, evangelistic, theological, etc..) and it dawned on me that the same thing can be said about the Bible. The Bible is not one book but a library of books. As a library of books, it does not fit in just one shelf but many shelves. It consists of two major divisions: the Old Testament and the New Testament which altogether compose sixty-six books. It has a third division called the “Apocrypha” or the non-canonical books. For our purpose in this course, we will concentrate on the 66 canonical books.
The Old Testament division begins with Creation and moves on to tell the story of human beings (Adam), the history of the Hebrew nation starting from Father Abraham up to the time of the major and minor prophets, some of whom foretold the birth of Christ. The Old Testament is made of 39 books, written by 28 different authors and covers a period of about 2,000 years.
It is said that the Old Testament is essentially the prophecy of Christ and the New Testament is the fulfillment of it. The New Testament records the birth, life, baptism, temptation, ministry, suffering, crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It narrates the acts and ministries of his disciples, the birth of the Jewish Church, and the missionary expansion of the universal Church. The New Testament is composed of 27 books written by 9 different authors and covers a period of about 100 years.
In summary, there are altogether 66 books; ____ books in the Old Testament; and ___ books in the New Testament.
B. OLD TESTAMENT BOOKS
The secret to understanding the Old Testament is to divide the 39 books into three sections, namely: Historical, Poetical, and Prophetical books. What kind of information, would you find in the historical books? …History! What kind of information, you would find in the poetical books? … Poetry! What of information, you would find in the prophetical books? ... Prophecy!
We will now divide the Old Testament books, into three sections:
11. 1st. Kings
12. 2nd Kings
13. 1st Chronicles
14. 2nd Chronicles
5. Song of Solomon
The story of Israel (Hebrew nation) is in the first seventeen (17) books of the Old Testament. The poetry (and songs) of Israel is in the next five (5) books; and the prophecy of Israel is in the final seventeen (17) books. In summary, the first ____Old Testament books are historical; the next ____ books are poetic; and the last ____ books are prophetic. Altogether, there are ____books in the Old Testament considered to be h_____________, p___________ and p___________________.
You may note that this is quite an oversimplified categorization. The truth is, there are some poems in the historical books and there are some historical elements in the prophetic books. The point however is that each of the book fits into a primary category. You may also note that the books are ordered in sequence as they appear in the Bible. This will help you to memorize the books better. Instead of memorizing the 39 books; you memorize into categories -- historical books first; then poetical; finally prophetical books.
Section I: Old Testament Historical Books Dates: 2013
1. Creation Era: Adam and Eve and Us 07/19
2. Patriarch Era: Abraham and the Chosen People 07/26
3. Exodus Era: Moses and Human Liberation 08/02
4. Conquest Era: Joshua in Canaan’s Land 08/09
5. Judges Era: Samson the Strong and Ruth the Faithful 08/16
6. Kingdom Era: David and the Kings of Israel 08/23
7. Exile Era: Grace in Humiliation 08/30
8. Return Era: Rebuilding Jerusalem 09/06
9. Legalism Era: The Rise of Pharisees & Fundamentalism 09/13
Section II: Old Testament Poetic al Books
10. The Middle Five Books: Types of Hebrew Poetry 09/20
11. The Middle Five Books: Main Messages of Hebrew Poetry 09/27
Section III: The Old Testament Prophetic Books
12. The Final 17 Books: Major and Minor Prophets 10/04
Section IV: The New Testament Books
13. New Testament: Geography and History 10/11
14. New Testament: The Gospel Era 10/18
15. New Testament: The Church Era 10/25
16. New Testament: The Missions Era 11/01
17. The Epistles: Problems, Principles, Practices 11/08
18. Conclusion: The Bible According to Jesus 11/15