There is a question that is asked from time to time; “How does one obtain a knowledge of the scriptures?”. The question stated in this manner does not express what is really being asked, so I will restate it.
“How does one who is not a scholar, or an intellectual, effectively obtain a functional, accurate knowledge of the scriptures?”. I might add that the person seeking may have limited reading skills and a limited use of the English language.
All of us started out knowing absolutely nothing about the Bible, God, Jesus Christ, or the concepts of prayer and worship. Someone had to teach us about these things. I was blessed to be taught the Bible by my parents, starting at a very early age. As a young child I acquired some knowledge of the scriptures without any study, reading, or memorization. My parents taught me by informally telling stories, during the day or before bed time. In the years since, most of my time with the Bible could not be classified as “studying”, but reading, as one would read for enjoyment.
In a related note, I must state that there are men and women in the body of Christ who are quite adept at the art of storytelling. It has been my experience that these people and their calling are unappreciated; they seldom are permitted to serve. If they are permitted to serve, it is in the capacity of (almost invisible) baby-sitters. Identify these men and women and incorporate their service into the general activities of the body of Christ; the benefits will be amazing!
There is basically only one prerequisite for acquiring a knowledge of the scriptures and that is a hunger to know The Truth. The hunger to know The Truth is a desire that is intense enough to be compared to physical hunger. This is a desire that is enough to motivate a person to act. If you have a ravenous hunger, you will be fed as much as you desire.
The first step in acquiring a knowledge of the scriptures is to make the time to become familiar with the numerous stories that are recorded in the Bible. One book my parents used to teach me the stories in the Bible was “Hurlburt's Story of the Bible”, which is available on the Internet.
The author of this book arranged the stories in their chronological order. Each story is expressed in simple, clear language. Each one is a complete story and can stand on its own. Yet, together these stories construct the narrative of the Bible, thus expressing “the story of the Bible”. The target audience of the book are those who do not have a Biblical background and may have a limited English vocabulary.
Artwork is included in the book to make it even more appealing. The artwork is not accurate so it can be ignored. Scriptural references are noted with each story, so it is easy to read each story from the Bible whenever you are ready.
Then find a version of the Bible that is easy and enjoyable for you to read. When I just want to read, I use the Revised English Bible. When I want to read in preparation for studying or for teaching, I use the English Standard Version. Once you have become familiar with the stories of the Bible, you can begin using your reading Bible. Read as if you are reading a novel. Just read for enjoyment. If you come across a section that you don't enjoy reading, such as a family tree or genealogy, skip that section. Don't attempt to retain and understand every little detail. Read to capture the narrative, the story. Memorization of individual scriptures at this point is not needed. It is much easier to remember a story than the individual scriptures that make up the story. Even young children can remember stories.
Once you have learned the general narrative of the Bible, you can begin to perceive the different contexts that make up that narrative. Now you can begin to read the contexts and see how they fit together. All the while you are reading for enjoyment.
“How much time will this take?” you might ask. It depends upon how hungry and persistent you are. Everyone grows at their own pace.
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(C)2015 Keith S. Radcliffe