New Bible readers don’t need a concordance

I’ve mentioned that when I was growing up, I thought the epistles were compilations of proverbs, short sayings basically unconnected to one another. I had always heard a verse quoted from here and another from there; I didn’t realize that the epistles were letters with main themes and logical arguments. In other words, I knew nothing about context.

A lot of new Bible readers are the same way. Maybe they’ve seen Bible verses posted here and there on social media. Possibly someone has studied with them some and has used chains of verses in those studies. However it happens, many people view the Bible as the collected sayings of holy men, rather than an anthology of books written by and for God’s people.

I’ll mention that I have a growing distrust of memory verses. Memory verses rarely lead you to think in context. They get you to focus on individual words stripped of context. They’re a bit like some of the quotations you see from famous people; ripped from their original place in a work of literature or a speech, these quotes are often made to say things that the person they are attributed to never intended.

In Bible times, memorization was not uncommon, but it was typically the memorization of entire books of the Bible, rather than individual verses. That allows the learner to think in terms of sections and paragraphs rather than individual words and sentences.

With new readers, we need to steer them away from island hopping their way through the Bible. Don’t hand a new reader a concordance. Hand them a reading plan, one that reads the Bible book by book.

1 thought on “New Bible readers don’t need a concordance

  1. Vern Smathers

    I’m enjoying this line. Learning to see the themes of each book and the overall theme of the whole Bible is key to understanding it. Still memorizing scripture that is in line with or understood in light of the theme of the book or main points of the Bible is really helpful. I don’t memorize so much as enjoy, muse, meditate, and sing the scriptures into my heart. Isn’t that what Paul is talking about in Col. 3:16?

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