I just had someone stop by my office asking if I would recommend something that would help her and her husband read the Bible together more effectively. When I get a request like this I usually direct people to Bible study tools that reveal the Bible in themes and ideas. In other words, I recommend stuff to laity that paints with lots of colors and broad brush strokes. As a preacher I usually choose to preach paragraphs of Scripture instead of verses because paragraphs reveal themes and in most cases the verses are sentences, or parts of sentences. Ideas, sentences, in this case verses support themes. I am probably more likely to preach a sermon on John 3 or John 3:16-21 than I am to preach a sermon on John 3:16.
Many moons ago Warren Wiersbe published a book of outlines on the whole Bible. The copy I have was handed down to me. The pages are brown, it’s in a three ring binder and it weighs about 42 pounds. It is old school. It is VERY alliterated. It is 8th printing 1982 – (At the time I would have been 9 wearing short shorts and tri-stripe sox). I like Wiersbe’s outline book because it paints with broad brush strokes and helps the reader see the Scripture as themes and supporting ideas. I checked CBD and surmise that the outline book is now hard bound and probably updated again. You would need to buy it as a pair, OT and NT editions – no more old school three ring binder editions are available on the market. I may have a very expensive antique on my hands!
Link to Wiersbe’s Outlines
If you want to study the Bible book by book you could spend a small fortune in a hurry. Instead of spending a small fortune in a hurry, spend a small fortune slowly. All of us should spend a small fortune studying the Bible! You can buy Bible commentaries that cover the Bible in one volume, in two volumes, in 5, 12, 66, or more. Some commentary series may publish four volumes on Psalms or two 1,000 pagers on Luke. There is so much out there that would range from “please poke out my eyes and relieve me from this exegetical torture” to “all this guy is doing is rephrasing Bible passages and refusing to say anything about Scriptures that may take a little thought.” But if you want colors and broad brush strokes I would fall back again, to some old school stuff: These commentaries may not float your boat if you are a more abstract post-modern, but then again, it may be beneficial to take a little more concrete siesta ever now and then.
The Exploring Series by John Phillips
The “Be” Series by Warren Wiersbe
At times the alliterations are forced and will hasten a call for the “eye poker” but these affordable and usually printed in paperback books are enough to give you some good “aha” moments and spawn good conversation.
For the last year I have been reading the English Standard Version of the Bible on the recommendation of a pastor friend. I bought an ESV journaling Bible and I must say it is one of the best purchases I have ever made. So far I have found the text accurate and readable. The journaling layout has inspired a treasure of personal notes. Right now I preach from the NKJV, but I will probably switch to the ESV at some point in ’09. On that note I will now do something I usually avoid at all costs, and that is recommend something I have yet to read myself. But tomorrow (10/15/08) the ESV study Bible comes out. I am NOT a study Bible guy. I usually find them cumbersome, cluttered, and distracting from the text. Yet, this one may be a must have. Given the list of contributors and the articles I have reviewed the ESV study Bible will be in my library. Here is a video I found that previews the product. When you watch it I challenge you to catch the guys name, spell it and say it 10 times fast!