The field of religious study approaches religion by studying historical and cultural implications. Religion in various forms has played an important role in the lives of humans, from the very dawn of humanity up to recent times. Religious studies address the deepest and most fundamental conflicts and values that affect humans — exploring the greatest mysteries found in life such as identify, purpose, and meaning. Religious study is integral to the philosophically probing existential questions including the following questions: Is there life after death or do we simply die? What is the purpose of life? Does the way we live affect the afterlife? Is there such a thing as destiny? Does God control our lives, and to what extent? How can human suffering and injustices be explained given the presupposition of God?
Bible Study Bible study is part of the larger academic disciple of religious studies. The Bible is such an incredibly comprehensive work of literature, that it can be daunting to read the entire book (let alone study it). The following guide is structured to help anyone interested in Bible study.
Helpful Hints for Bible Study
- Remember the reasons you chose to study the Bible.
- Study with an open mind and a desire for truth.
- Believe that the Bible can be understood (though it seems esoteric at times).
- Remember that the Bible was inspired by God and that there is a purpose behind each word.
Being such a large book, the best way to approach the Bible is by breaking it up into smaller, more manageable pieces. Choose whether to start with the Old Testament or the New Testament. Then, choose a book within this section, for instance the book of James. For each book, set aside a minimum of three to four weeks to study it.
It is advisable to start each study session with a prayer, asking God to open your heart and mind, as well as broadening your spiritual understanding.
Study Guide Read the entire book you have chosen; spend several days or however long it takes to read the book through entirely. Then, read it through a second time, this time taking notes that include thoughts, questions, themes, ideas — anything that comes to mind. Look for ways you can apply what you read about in your daily life.
Next, read the book each verse at a time, searching for deeper meanings with each sentence. By studying the same passage repeatedly, you may begin to experience new understandings of the text. Continue taking notes on these epiphanies. As an option, find a Bible dictionary or study guide to help you dig deeper.
As you deepen your understanding of the Bible, practice what you are learning by taking action in your life that mirrors the lessons taught by God. As stated in Luke, "Blessed are they who hear the word of God and put it into practice."
Continue following these steps with each book of the Bible until you have completed the entire work. Bible study can be challenging but is also deeply fulfilling.
Stephen Cline has an MBA and has worked in the finance industry. You can follow him on Twitter @stephlines or check out his writing at http://www.economiccrisisblog.com/.