september 23 2013 Brown Book Review Part One: What They Don’t Tell You A Survivor’s Guide to Biblical Studies by Michael Joseph Brown and published by Westminster John Know Press is a book that provides basic information about biblical criticism. Ultimately, it tries to motivate students to engage with the biblical text and contemporary biblical studies by illustrating how to approach academic biblical studies in a different way than which one would approach normal bible study. The book seems to be aimed at students beginning their Journey of academic biblical studies and is supposed to be sed as a guide to get the most out of one’s studies.
Part Two: The first chapter of this book seems to be mainly focused on discussing how bible study and biblical scholarship[l] differ and how different approaches need to be taken to each. Brown made several very interesting points when discussing the difference between bible study and biblical scholarship. One of the most interesting to me was when he compared bible studies to the “Christian version ot seltnelp groups like Alcoholics Anonymous”(Brown 2 found this very interesting because such a random comparison to an alcoholics group Just eemed so strange to me, especially when referring to biblical studies.
However, this comparison does make sense because it portrays his view that bible study groups are mainly about discussing one’s feelings about the bible and that in an academic setting, that is simply not the case and cannot be because personal feelings and views about certain biblical texts can get in the way of truly learning about the bible in a scholarly way( Brown 2000, 17).
Ha e also talks about the history of biblical scholarship and how it was fueled by the Reformation and how philosophers such nd John Locke and even Sir Isaac Newton are some of the reasons why we have so many good interpretations of different aspects of biblical stories today. One of the points that Brown made in this first chapter that I found important was his statement that biblical scholarship was the reason that we know that “even in the New Testament itself one can find different understandings of what it means to follow Jesus”( Brown 2000, 15).
What I think is most important about this statement is that it helps to show one of the reasons why biblical scholarship is so important. Chapter 2 mainly focuses on some guidelines reading and understanding the book. It is basically a list of rules of thumb to help make biblical scholarship a little easier. There are many rules, and all of them are important, but they are a certain few that I personally feel are important. One of the rules that I feel is important is rule number three, which is “The more you try to do, the less you will really understand”( Brown 2000, 48).
I feel that this rule is particularly important because in today’s society, it is not uncommon to over think things. The rule less is more can apply o a lot of aspects of life, but especially studying the bible. If you read an entire book all at one time, you will know what it is about, but if you read it in small increments and think about those small parts one by one you will geta better understanding as a whole than if you read the entire book all at once( Brown 2000, 49).
Another rule that I feel is important is rule 8, which is “Get a map”(Brown 2000, 62). I feel that this rule is important in the aspect of biblical scholarship because there are so many different places mentioned in the bible and sometimes an understanding f where the places mentioned are can help enhance the reader’s understanding of why the geographical location is of some significance.
A good example of how geographical knowledge could enhance the reader’s understanding can be seen by evaluating where Jesus was born and the surrounding area which can bring up the topic of the fact that Jesus would have been near non Jewish people and could have learned Greek and Latin which “could possibly change our understanding of the Gospels”(Brown 2000, 63). Chapter three and four are also rules. Chapter three talks about some rules nderstanding biblical scholarship and chapter four talks about some rules for surviving biblical scholarship.
I feel that chapter four is more important than chapter three because the topic is discusses is far more important. Biblical scholarship can sometimes be a little harsh on one’s own opinions and beliefs and rules or thumb to help survive that are a necessity. The two rules I find to be most important are rules 27 and 28. I feel that they are most important because they discuss the topic of one’s own personal faith and how biblical scholarship can sometimes hallenge it.
Rule 27 basically says that if your faith is not strong enough to go through a little challenging then it could not have really been that strong. An analogy that Brown uses that I really like is that “unchallenged faith is no better than building your house on sand”( Brown 2000, 142). I really like this analogy because it basically is saying that if your faith is not strong enough to go through a little shaking it will essentially Just go crumbling down.
I feel that rule 27 and rule 28 really go together because lthough rule 27 brings up a valid point, Just because someone has a bad foundation of their faith, it does not mean the entire foundation is bad. As stated in rule 28, Just because one part of your t ith t lls, it does not mean you nave to give up the whole thing(Brown 2 Chapter 5 basically Just sums up the book. It gives a great perspective on why Brown wrote this book. He wrote this book because when he took his first bible class, he was surprised by how vigorous of a class it was and how much the right mindset can really contribute to one’s success in the course.
Part Three: One of my favorite things about this book is how Brown often backs up his points with hard evidence from the bible with direct quotes or stories like in Chapter two when he uses two different accounts of Jesus’ Resurrection to prove his point that when reading the bible, one needs to be aware of discrepancies between different accounts of the same situation and that Just because it is the bible, it does not mean that differences in accounts should be ignored( Brown 2000, 43). I also really liked Chapter five.
Even though it was unnecessary, I liked how it kind of xplained why Brown wrote this book and it gave a nice background to how his first experience in a bible class was. I really think this book did exactly what it’s purpose was and I really would recommend this book to anyone taking a bible class for the first time. I feel like it made me aware of some things I need to be careful about during my bible classes and I feel like it will help make me be more successtul in my bible classes . Overall I rea y happy this book was a required read. Bible study in an academic setting this book and I am actually