book review: biblical studies what they dont tell yoi

Topics: Biblical studies, Bible, Jesus Pages: 7 (1204 words) Published: December 3, 2013
September 23 2013

Brown Book Review

Part One:             

              What They Don't Tell You A Survivor's Guide to Biblical Studies by Michael Joseph

Brown and published by Westminster John Know Press is a book that provides basic information

about biblical criticism. Ultimately, it tries to motivate students to engage with the biblical text and

contemporary biblical studies by illustrating how to approach academic biblical studies in a

different way than which one would approach normal bible study. The book seems to be aimed at

students beginning their journey of academic biblical studies and is supposed to be used as a guide

to get the most out of one's studies.

Part Two:

              The first chapter of this book seems to be mainly focused on discussing how bible study

and biblical scholarship[1] differ and how different approaches need to be taken to each. Brown

made several very interesting points when discussing the difference between bible study and

biblical scholarship. One of the most interesting to me was when he compared bible studies to the

“Christian version of self­help groups like Alcoholics Anonymous”(Brown 2000, 2). I found this

very interesting because such a random comparison to an alcoholics group just seemed so strange

to me, especially when referring to biblical studies. However, this comparison does make sense

because it portrays his view that bible study groups are mainly about discussing one's feelings

about the bible and that in an academic setting, that is simply not the case and cannot be because

personal feelings and views about certain biblical texts can get in the way of truly learning about

the bible in a scholarly way( Brown 2000, 17). Ha e also talks about the history of biblical

scholarship and how it was fueled by the Reformation and how philosophers such and John Locke

and even Sir Isaac Newton are some of the reasons why we have so many good interpretations of

different aspects of biblical stories today. One of the points that Brown made in this first chapter

that I found important was his statement that biblical scholarship was the reason that we know that

“even in the New Testament itself one can find different understandings of what it means to follow

Jesus”( Brown 2000, 15). What I think is most important about this statement is that it helps to

show one of the reasons why biblical scholarship is so important.

              Chapter 2 mainly focuses on some guidelines reading and understanding the book. It is

basically a list of rules of thumb to help make biblical scholarship a little easier. There are many

rules, and all of them are important, but they are a certain few that I personally feel are important.

One of the rules that I feel is important is rule number three, which is “The more you try to do, the

less you will really understand”( Brown 2000, 48). I feel that this rule is particularly important

because in today's society, it is not uncommon to over think things. The rule less is more can apply

to a lot of aspects of life, but especially studying the bible. If you read an entire book all at one

time, you will know what it is about, but if you read it in small increments and think about those

small parts one by one you will get a better understanding as a whole than if you read the entire

book all at once( Brown 2000, 49). Another rule that I feel is important is rule 8, which is “Get a

map”(Brown 2000, 62). I feel that this rule is important in the aspect of biblical scholarship

because there are so many different places mentioned in the bible and sometimes an understanding

of where the places mentioned are can help enhance the reader's understanding of why the

geographical location is of some significance. A good example of how geographical knowledge

could enhance the reader's understanding can be seen by evaluating where Jesus was born...
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