Reading the poetic portions of the Old Testament in English, especially in the Prophets, can be challenging. But the fact is that the more familiar one becomes with the poetic sections of the Prophets, the more one sees that they are absolutely, vitally central to the NT. In the end, the way to make OT poetry interesting and understandable is not by retreating from it but by studying it even more intensely using all the imaginative and scholarly resources at your disposal.
To really know someone or something one must first love that someone or something. This applies both to human relationships and to Bible study.
It is possible to read a text from a perspective that seems unnatural to the text. In doing so what we actually do is critique ourselves as readers and force ourselves to see new things in the text. There are productive and unproductive ways to do this, but it can be useful for Bible study.
In Amos 3:3-8, the prophet uses a series of rhetorical questions to deliver a warning to Israel about the inescapability of God’s coming judgment. But he also tells us about prophecy itself – that it carries with it an implied invitation to repent and be saved from the otherwise inescapable judgment.
The oracle against Judah in Amos 2:4-5 is typically regarded by scholars as a later insertion due to its use of Deuteronomic language and the apparent vagueness of its accusation. This article argues that dating a text late solely because of the presence of so-called “Deuteronomic” language is logically circular, and it proposes a reading of the first two chapters of Amos that makes the oracle against Judah an integral part of the passage’s rhetoric rather than an obligatory insertion.
Even someone as awesome as William Tyndale can make a mistake. And even as revered a translation as the King James Version can unthinkingly perpetuate it.
Good Bible interpretation is radically text-centered and moves from text to application. This involves avoiding confirmation bias, letting the Bible determine subject matter, and not insisting that every text be reducible to an ethical “action point.”
An important assumption of close reading, whether or not the text at hand is Scripture, is that every detail matters. Every detail can and should be subjected to scrutiny. One way we can subject details to scrutiny is by asking, “How else could it be said?” By asking this question we attempt to replicate the thinking that constructed the text.
If you do these things, reading either chapter-by-chapter or verse-by-verse, you will be on your way to a far more effective and enriching reading of the book of Proverbs than, I suspect, most people usually experience.
Part of teaching the Church to love Bible Study is teaching them how to read the Bible closely. In that spirit, this is something I wrote a few months ago for my church's blog: As I have been teaching Romans and Galatians on Sunday mornings these last several months, I have also had occasion to…