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Monday, September 21, 2009

An Eleventh Quote from The Truth War

Actually, from the appendix, part of which is reprinted from an earlier book, Reckless Faith:
...some people...spurn the use of commentaries and similar resources in their Bible study, as if their own uninformed first impression is just as good as careful study using reference tools. It is becoming more and more common all the time to hear people say, "I don't read commentaries and books about the Bible. I limit my study to the Bible itself." That may sound very pious, but is it? Isn't it actually presumptuous? Are the written legacies of godly men of no value to us? Can someone who ignores study aids understand the Bible just as well as someone who is familiar with the scholarship of other godly teachers and pastors?

One textbook on hermeneutics answers the question this way:
Suppose we select a list of words from Isaiah and ask a man who claims he can bypass the godly learning of Christian scholarship if he can out of his own soul or prayer give their meaning or significance: Tyre, Zidon, Chittim, Sihor, Moab, Mahershalahashbas, Calno, Carchemish, Hamath, Aiath, Migron, Michmash, Geba, Anathoth, Laish, Nob, and Gallim. He will find the only light he can get on these words is from a commentary or a Bible dictionary.
Good answer. It reveals the utter folly of thinking that objective study is unnecessary. The person who is not a diligent student cannot be an accurate interpreter of God's Word.
Personally, I am pretty well convinced that the majority of modern North American Christians have never even seen a commentary, let alone cracked one open. In view of the enormous numbers of commentaries available, this may seem unbelievable, but I am convinced it is true. I have no idea who is buying all those commentaries. It is a certainty that I never hear anyone, save a preacher or an occasional Sunday School teacher, refer to one.

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