A Bible study is understood to mean a more in-depth study of the texts of the Bible as the Holy Scriptures of Christianity . Here, above all, the personal (sometimes academic-scientific) study of the Bible is meant, less the common liturgical use in worship .
Motivations for Bible Study
The Bible can be studied for several reasons:
- in search of orientation, meaning in life and strengthening, sometimes as a prayer of its own kind ( Lectio divina )
- Long-term training for spiritual professions or services in order to be competent in theological questions
- at short notice for the preparation of individual church services such as sermons , seminars, bible studies , liturgy
- to get to know the basics of the Abrahamic revelation religions and their ideas about God
- as a historical source for ancient events
- the original text or old translations as a source for linguists
- as a work of world literature in the context of general education
- in the context of apologetics or criticism of religion in the dispute over alleged contradictions
When interpreting the Bible, the respective prior understanding plays a role , whereby there are many possibilities, for example a literal, an allegorical , a historical-critical or an anti-biblical perspective.
External framework of Bible study
In the Christian daily private Bible study takes place alone or in small groups, such as in a home group . Many churches offer courses on biblical subjects. In-depth studies are also available for laypeople, in the form of holiday courses, evening courses or distance learning .
In certain Islamic countries such as B. In the Maldives , Bible study can still be dangerous today; Bibles and religious literature are not allowed to be imported there - not even for personal use after Saudi Arabia and Brunei . For illegal smuggling in of literature and forbidden gathering to study the Bible, foreigners sometimes face high prison sentences , and in some cases local Muslims even face the death penalty .
In the list of states with persecution and suppression of Christians , North Korea comes first (according to Open Doors ). The practice of the Christian faith - and thus also personal Bible study - is legally restricted there.
Bible study tools
- A good knowledge of the biblical languages ( Hebrew and Greek ) enables the Bible to be read in the original text . Most people, however, need a Bible translation . Since the translations differ from each other, the comparison is helpful. The chosen the tension between accuracy and clarity of the respective translation translation method should consider the reader.
- Study Bibles offer explanations of the text, references to similar or related sections of text (parallel passages), cartographic materials and indexes to help you find the statements you are looking for quickly. Such study Bibles are of course shaped by the views of the editors, e.g. B. Their denominational point of view.
- Concordances list the occurrences of certain words in different scriptures. Many online Bible programs offer a search function that does the job of concordance.
- Bible programs for computers or PDAs enable quick access to text passages. Often, several Bible translations can be viewed side by side. Lexicons and dictionaries are partly integrated, as well as grammatical analysis functions.
- Institutes and advanced training facilities offer special Bible study courses .
- In the Internet is a variety to find web pages that deal with biblical themes; They are particularly valuable for people in regions where Bibles and related literature are difficult to obtain.
- Books on biblical topics illuminate certain aspects from a biblical point of view ( ethics , education , prayer, etc.) or offer historical or scientific information.
Bible Study Methodology
The approach to studying the Bible depends on goal, personal education, time available, religious background, resources available, and other circumstances.
The believers try to relate the text to their own life, sometimes to gain decision-making aids, or in general to let the text have a meditative effect on them. Many associate Bible study with prayer and see it as a dialogue with God.
Four methods are common:
- Bible reading plans provide text passages for each day. Some of these plans are designed so that the entire Bible is read within a certain period of time. The slogans also provide a daily Bible word.
- The Bible is read through continuously in order to get to know all the texts it contains.
- Biblical statements about a topic (e.g., mercy ) or a person (e.g., Peter ) are examined. So one asks in a sense "What does the Bible say about ..."
- For children and adolescents, stories are often preferred, for example in children's Bibles .
When reading the Bible, the focus is often on difficult passages; Bible readers ponder them to understand their meaning; On the other hand, apparently clear passages are often ignored. But it is also possible to set the opposite focus: Concentrate on clear points and think about how they can affect your own life (and leave difficult points aside for the time being). In this sense, Mark Twain had already said:
- "I am not concerned about the incomprehensible Bible passages, but those that I understand."
In the absence of a Bible, meditation on memorable passages can be a substitute (memorization of scriptures proves particularly valuable). This often happens in times of need, for example in times and areas when believers are persecuted and a free life of faith is not possible.
Bible Study in History
The so-called royal law already says:
- “When he (the king) sits on the throne of his kingdom, then he should write himself a copy of this law in a book, from the book that is available to the priests, the Levites. And it shall be with him, and he shall read it every day of his life, so that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these ordinances, to do them, so that his heart will not be over his rises brothers and it differs from the commandment to the right or to the left, so that it prolongs the days of his reign, he and his sons, in the midst of Israel. "( Deut 17.18 to 20 ELB )
According to the Shema of Israel , Jewish parents were obliged to teach their children the law:
- "And these words, which I command you today, you should bear on your heart, and you should inculcate them on your children and speak of them [...]" ( Deut. 6,6 + 7 SLT )
Ultimately, the emphasis on the study of scriptures in Judaism was also a reason for the high literacy level of the people, which was far above the average of other nations of the time.
Time of Jesus and early Christianity
- “[...] he sat among the teachers, listened to them and asked questions. All who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. ”( Lk 2,46–47 EU )
According to the reports of the Gospels, Jesus repeatedly appealed to his listeners' knowledge of the Bible in his speeches and evidently assumed it was a prerequisite for them by referring to it: "For it is in the Holy Scriptures ..." or "Have you never read ..." .? " . Additionally, according to the gospel accounts, Jesus made frequent references to Old Testament events.
The first Christians initially continued to visit the synagogues and listen to the readings of the Torah there. The Christian services were presumably designed in a similar manner, with readings from the letters of the apostles and the Gospels being added. These readings were given in the colloquial Greek language . In the Latin-speaking west of the Roman Empire , translations of it, the Vetus Latina , were made as early as the 2nd century . Presumably only a few Christians had their own manuscripts; but through the frequent readings they became familiar with it. In addition, the texts read were preached in the service.
In the catechumenate texts from the Old and New Testaments were interpreted in order to teach the doctrine and explain the baptismal confession to the baptismal applicants, most of whom soon no longer had a Jewish background.
Late Roman Empire
In the first three centuries there were several persecutions of Christians in the Roman Empire . Confessing to Christianity was therefore a conscious decision of the individual, which was usually made after careful study. That changed in the 4th century, when Christianity was first given equal rights with the Milan Agreement of 313 and then finally became the state religion in the Roman Empire with the Three Emperor Edict of 380 .
As a result of this change and also because of the low level of literacy, the study of the Bible was partially shifted to the newly created monasteries . This also happened through the work of Basil the Great , who made Bible study an essential part of his monastic rule, which is still in use in the Orthodox Church today.
But the non-monk preachers of late antiquity also repeatedly emphasized the need for Bible study. John Chrysostom, for example, urged his listeners to at least get copies of the four Gospels and to read them frequently.
Middle Ages (Western Europe)
In the Eastern Church, the level of literacy and popular education remained quite high, whereas in the West, in the early Middle Ages, Bible study was limited to the monasteries and monastery schools. The Latin translation Vulgate was used . In the Romance areas (Italy, Spain and southern France), uneducated people partly understood Latin, but not in the Germanic and Celtic countries. Apart from clergy, hardly anyone could read and write in the early Middle Ages, even in the higher nobility.
Bibles were also copied by hand in the High Middle Ages and were more expensive than a good half-timbered house , so only affordable for churches, monasteries, universities, wealthy citizens, wealthy nobles and kings .
In the liturgy of worship, reading the Bible, especially the Gospels, was given an important place. The churches were decorated with representations that brought the common people closer to the biblical content. So-called Poor Bibles served the same purpose .
The reform movements of the 9th to 11th centuries emphasized the importance of Bible study for both monks and secular priests. The lectio divina , a method of praying meditation on Bible texts , had existed in monasteries since the 12th century .
At first there were only sporadic translations of the Bible into vernacular languages, but these increased in the later Middle Ages, especially under split-off movements such as the Waldensians , the English Lollards ( John Wyclif ) and the Bohemian Hussites . Because of this, Bible translations were not infrequently viewed as a threat in the Catholic Church .
Renaissance and Reformation
With the invention of the printing press , the Bible could be produced in large numbers at a much lower price and thus spread more easily. In 1452 Johannes Gutenberg printed a Latin Bible for the first time. The humanism wanted to go back to the original sources and so the original text came back into view. The Greek edition of Erasmus of Rotterdam appeared in print in 1516 and spread like wildfire in the universities. The study of the Hebrew language , which until then had been practiced almost exclusively by Jewish scholars, now also began among Christians.
The Protestant Reformation, which followed the motto sola scriptura (only scripture), increased interest in the Holy Scriptures even further. Numerous Bible translations have appeared: Luther Bible , Zurich Bible and Piscator Bible in German, Tyndale and King James Bible in English, Diodati Bible in Italian, Olivetan Bible in French. Through the printing press, these Bibles found widespread use, mainly in Protestant areas. Extensive study of the Bible gave birth to new Christian movements such as the Anabaptist movement .
In elementary schools, reading was often learned from scriptures.
In the 18th century there was widespread Bible study among the common people; that was a counter-movement to the Enlightenment and the biblical exegesis of theology, for example in Pietism (Germany), in Methodism (England), in the First Great Awakening (USA). There, as well as in the revival movement of the 19th century as a whole and the free churches that developed from it , an intensive, non-scientific study of the Bible in small groups was part of the practice of faith. Sunday School developed in the United States, with adults and children studying the Bible before or after services.
In the communist states the study of the Bible, like the free exercise of religion in general , was only possible to a limited extent. Only after the fall of the Iron Curtain (1989) did state disabilities disappear.
In order to bring the Bible into public discussion, various “ Years of the Bible ” are celebrated, including 1983 in the USA and 2003 in Germany.
In particular, free churches and other - predominantly evangelical - communities endeavor to encourage Bible study through various events and campaigns, for example through evangelism , through large-scale events such as ProChrist across Europe , through missionary home and street activities where they go from door to door, Organize book tables or address people on the street. Communities such as Jehovah's Witnesses are particularly active in making house calls.
Introduction to the Bible
- Bernhard Lang : The Bible . 2nd, expanded edition. F. Schöningh, Paderborn, Munich a. a. 1990, ISBN 3-506-99409-3 (UTB 1594).
- Wolfgang Langer : Handbook of Bible Study . Kösel, Munich a. a. 1987.
- Gerhard Lohfink : I now understand the Bible . 13th edition. Catholic Biblical Works, Stuttgart 1986, ISBN 3-460-30632-7 .
- Annemarie Ohler: dtv-Atlas Bible . 1st edition. Deutscher Taschenbuch-Verlag, Munich 2004, ISBN 3-423-03326-6 (dtv; 3326).
- Martin Rösel: Biblical Studies of the Old Testament: The canonical and apocryphal writings . 6th, expanded edition. Neukirchener Verlag, Neukirchen-Vluyn 2008, ISBN 3-7887-2346-7 .
- Erich Zenger: The God of the Bible. Non-fiction book on the beginnings of Old Testament belief in God . Catholic Biblical Works, Stuttgart 1979, ISBN 3-460-31811-2 .
- Winfried Vogel: Bestseller Bible. Why actually? Advent-Verlag, Lüneburg 2003, ISBN 3-8150-7701-X
- Gordon D. Fee, Douglas Stuart: Effective Bible Study . 3rd, revised. Edition. ICI, 1996, ISBN 3-923924-27-5 .
- Georg Fischer: Paths to the Bible. Guide to interpretation . Catholic Biblical Work, Stuttgart 2000, ISBN 3-460-32434-1 .
- Howard G. Hendricks, William D. Hendricks: Bible Reading for Profit. Handbook for personal Bible study . Christliche Verlagsgesellschaft, Dillenburg 2002, ISBN 3-89436-088-7 .
- Alfred Kuen: Reading the Bible practically. How do I read and study my Bible . 1st edition. R. Brockhaus, Wuppertal 1979, ISBN 3-417-21060-7 .
- William MacDonald : Asking, Researching, Finding. Effective Bible study. 1st edition. Christian literature distribution, Bielefeld 2002, ISBN 3-89397-482-2 ( clv-server.de [PDF]).
- Peter Müller: “Do you also understand what you read?” Reading and understanding in the New Testament. Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 1997, ISBN 3-534-12384-0 .
- Siegfried Wittwer: Asked specifically, answered specifically. About God and Faith. Advent Verlag, Lüneburg 2002, ISBN 3-8150-1863-3 .
- Hermann Mahnke: No book with seven seals! Read and understand the Bible. Companion book for Bible readers. Weißensee Verlag, Berlin 2007, ISBN 978-3-89998-111-7 ( online version of the book ).
Study Bibles and Bible Concordances
- Herbert Hartmann: Small Concordance to the Luther Bible. Neukirchen-Vluyn, sowing 2002, ISBN 3-7615-5284-X .
- John MacArthur: Study Bible . 3. Edition. Christian literature distribution, Bielefeld 2004, ISBN 3-89397-017-7 (Schlachter - Version 2000).
- Stuttgart Old and New Testament. Standard translation with commentary, lexicon and factual explanations. 1st edition. Katholisches Bibelwerk, Stuttgart 2007, ISBN 978-3-460-01016-1 (DVD / software).
- Thompson Study Bible. Bible text based on a translation by Martin Luther. Old and New Testament . 6th edition. Hänssler, Holzgerlingen 2006, ISBN 3-7751-1586-2 (revised version from 1984. With concordance).
Bible commentaries and dictionaries
- Handbook of basic theological terms for the Old and New Testament . Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 2006, ISBN 3-534-15138-0 .
- Fritz Rienecker , Gerhard Maier, Alexander Schick, Ulrich Wendel: Lexicon for the Bible . SCM R.Brockhaus, Witten 2013, ISBN 978-3-417-26550-7 .
- Reclam's Biblical Lexicon . 7th edition. Reclam, Stuttgart 2004, ISBN 3-15-010555-2 .
- Merrill F. Unger: Unger's Great Bible Handbook . Christian literature distribution, Bielefeld 1990, ISBN 3-89397-317-6 .
- For more works see the article Bibellexikon
- Marcus Braybrooke, James Harpur: The Great Bible Atlas . Pattloch, 1998, ISBN 3-629-00838-0 .
- Tim Dowley: Compact Bible Atlas . Brockhaus, Mannheim 2004, ISBN 3-417-24780-2 .
- The new PC Bible Atlas . 1st edition. R. Brockhaus, Witten 2008, ISBN 978-3-417-36136-0 (CD-ROM. With complete version of the Elberfeld Bible 2006).
- Siegfried Mittmann (Ed.): Tübingen Bible Atlas. Based on the Tübingen Atlas of the Middle East. German Biblical Society , Stuttgart 2001, ISBN 3-438-06022-1 (29 large-format maps, with extensive index).
- List of Biblical Books
- Bible edition
- Bible commentary
- Bible programs (for the computer)
- Through the Bible (Bible Studies Radio Series)
- Bible study
- Scripture Studies
- Evangelical exegesis
- Bible phone
die-bibel.de General Bible portal of the German Bible Society
- therein an overview of Bible reading plans
- bibelwissenschaft.de Scientific Bible portal of the German Bible Society
- Catalog of links on Bible study at curlie.org (formerly DMOZ )
- Research project Bible in Sermons
- Archeology confirms the Bible
- Examples from the Bible as part of general education ( Memento from March 16, 2016 in the Internet Archive )
- Tracking Index. ( Memento from October 23, 2012 in the Internet Archive )
- So z. B. the Ecumenical Bible Reading Plan or the Annual Bible
- BiblePlans. In: www.die-bibel.de. Retrieved October 21, 2016 .
- Franz Graf-Stuhlhofer : Basis preach. Basics of the Christian faith in sermons, plus a didactic homiletics for advanced students. VTR, Nuremberg 2010, pp. 124–129: "Two ways of reading the Bible".
- Mark Twain in The Wit and Wisdom : “ It ain't the parts of the Bible that I can't understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand. ”
- Cf. Mt 4,4ff ; 21.13 ; Lk 10:26 ; John 10:34
- Cf. Mt 12 : 3 and 5 ; 19.4 ; 21.16 u. 42 ; 22.31 ; Mk 2.25 ; 12.10 u. 26 ; Lk 6.3 ; 10.26
- Cf. Mk 10.6 ; Mt 19.4; Mt 23.35 ; Mt 24.38 ; Lk 17.29 ; Mk 12.26 ; John 6:31 ; Mt 12.40