Studying Through the Bible for a Church.

Introduction:

There is a lack of biblical literacy in many, young and old, who attend Christian churches. This, sadly, occurs even amongst those in leadership positions. How is this to be remedied?

The issue is time for some – they simply lack the time or do not prioritize the time to spend in Scripture. The problem for others though is more complex – and more easily resolved – they lack the means. Jumping into Scripture can be a bit like jumping into the deep end of the pool. Some will scorn me for saying this – but there are many passages in the bible I find difficult to understand and some that throw me into a complete and depressive tizzy.

As a youth I discovered William Barclay‘s Daily Study Bible. Barclay had written commentaries on each book of the New Testament over a period of years for the Anglican church. They were divided into small daily segments for devotional reading and while fairly concise managed to hit deeply upon a wide variety of topics and to faithfully handle the Scriptures in many aspects. They were reasonable to read alongside of one’s devotional reading – unlike so many of today’s commentaries which are so voluminous that one could never make progress in reading through the entirety of the Scriptures – mired always in the details.

I think there is a need for such a series today and for such a series to be promoted through the church and for weekly meetings to occur in which discussion of the past week’s readings can be discussed and pondered. I have hesitated thus far in recommending the DSB as such an option for several reasons:

  1. William Barclay while generally maintaining to Christian orthodoxy occasionally shows his underlying modernism – and this could be a significant concern for the new or young believer.
  2. The books are becoming somewhat dated, the quotations and illustrations not always relevant (I have not had a chance to read the revised editions, but these I understand to have dropped his own translation – which was a highlight to me of the originals).
  3. There is no citations and no bibliographic data providing a way for those who find a particular passage interesting or confusing to find further resources.

I have been and continue to look for such a resource to recommend to the church. Someday, I hope to write such a reference (I already have registered the domain for this purpose at layeredbible.com) but I do not have the time available to me at this juncture for such an endeavor – someday if the Lord wills, He will provide the time (I do not think I have unique insight into the Scriptures, rather I find myself more a compiler, cataloger, and synthesizer of those who have gone in the past or are now).

For the time being…I have continued my research and decided to share this research here in this post.

Options:

  • Lucado, Max. Life Lessons Series. Nelson Impact.
    • Covers the New Testament only.
    • Price is extremely reasonable at $6.99/volume.
    • Not what I’m looking for. While offering some good questions, etc. it doesn’t appear to provide much literary, historical, grammatical, theological, etc. info. You can see a sample chapter here.
  • The Navigators. LifeChange Series. NavPress.
    • Covers O.T. and N.T.
    • Price is extremely reasonable at $6/volume.
    • A sample is available here, unfortunately it is an introductory chapter – not an actual chapter on the text.
  • Willow Creek Association. New Community Series.
    • Covers some books of both the O.T. and N.T.
    • Priced at $6/volume.
  • Deepening Life Together Series. Baker Books.
    • Covers some NT books.
  • MacArthur, John. John MacArthur Study Guides. Nelson Impact.
  • LifeGuide Bible Studies. Inter-Varsity Press.
    • Priced at $6/volume.
  • NLT Life Application Bible Studies. Tyndale House.
    • Priced at $6/volume.
  • Wiersbe, Warren. Wiersbe Bible Study Series. David C. Cook.
    • Covers OT and NT.
    • Priced at $7/volume.
  • Stott, John. John Stott Bible Study Series. IVP Connect.
    • Price at $6/volume.
  • Wiersbe, Warren. Be Series. David C. Cook.
    • $10/volume.
  • Arthur, Kay. New Inductive Series. Harvest House Publishers.
    • O.T. and N.T.
    • $7/volume.
  • Blackaby, Henry, Melvin Blackaby, Thomas Blackaby. Blackaby Bible Study Series. Thomas Nelson.
    • N.T.
    • $8/volume.
  • Walk Through the Bible Series. Baker Books.
    • N.T.
    • $6/volume.
  • Wright, N.T. For Everyone Series. IVP Connect.
    • My Comment: I’m not a huge fan of Wright’s writing style in these commentaries. While Wright series is intended as a successor to Barclay’s volumes, thus far I’ve found them too sermonic in nature – too many stories that don’t relate directly to the text.
    • N.T.
    • $6.50/volume.

Bibliography

  1. I reviewed somewhere around 1100 items from Christian Book Distributor’s Bible Study and Curriculums section.

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