Book Review: The Bible Study Handbook
Author: Lindsay Olesberg
Publisher: InterVarsity Press ISBN: 9780830810499
I teach classes on how to study the Bible, so I’m always interested in reviewing tools and helps that might facilitate my teaching and communicate methods for effectively understanding the holy Scriptures. Consequently, it was with great excitement that I got my hands on Lindsay Olesberg’s The Bible Study Handbook.
I took my first inductive Bible study class in 1988 and I have been collecting resources as well as taking additional how-to-study-the-Bible classes ever since. Needless to say, I have a nice collection of resources and methods at my disposal. It is with this awareness that I am confident to report that The Bible Study Handbook ranks among the highest rated of my resources for teaching the inductive methods of study. I will share my reasons.
The book weighs in just over two hundred fifty pages, not exhaustive, but it does stand up to its claim of being comprehensive. These pages are broken into three primary sections—Part 1: Foundations, Part 2: Building Blocks, and Part 3: Tool Box. In Foundations, Olesberg shares some of the influences and philosophy behind her passion and belief in the process of inductive Bible study. The next section of the book moves into the Building Blocks of inductive study method. Here, Olesberg introduces and teaches basic hermeneutical tools needed for accurate and effective interpretation of the Scriptures. Some of the major points in Building Blocks include contextual respect and understanding, which includes authorship (who wrote it, to whom was it written, why was it written) and narrative details (genre, cultural influences, socio-political, and economic circumstances to name a few). Moving to Part 3: Tool Box, is where Olesberg outlines helpful resources and practices necessary for effective Bible study.
The book is well annotated with a number of illustrations, tables, and graphs; all of these are very nice additions, especially for visual learners. Additionally, there is a collection of summary helps included in the appendices at the end of the book.
Things I really like
As I mentioned earlier in my review, I have been practicing and teaching inductive Bible study for many years. I can say with confidence that, for most people, Bible study is not easy and good Bible study is not quick. Inductive Bible study takes time, is detail oriented, requires good resources, and a very systematic approach. It is to these ends that I really appreciated the way that Lindsey Olesberg presented her methods and approach to Bible study. Her writing was reader friendly and her passion for Bible study was evident, which often becomes contagious for the reader. I also found an appreciation for the interactive exercises included at the end of each chapter. I think Olesberg made a practiced effort to include all of the primary learning styles in her handbook; at least as much as an author can accomplish this in a written form.
I don’t have any serious criticism for The Bible Study Handbook. I wish the resources section in the appendices would have been a little more comprehensive, but some of that detail is covered in the Tool Box section of the book. I am always grateful for the wonderful resources that InterVarsity Press brings to the Christian community and I believe this contribution from Lindsey Olesberg is another great gift. I will be including it in my recommended resources to my students as well as returning to it again and again for my own benefit.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from InterVarsity Press to read and post a review on my site. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”