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Why is Jesus talking about a millstone? How much is a denarius worth? And what in the world is an alabaster bottle of nard?
Reading through the Bible means running into terms like these, unfamiliar to most 21st-century Westerners. We may love the story of the woman washing Jesus’s feet with her tears and hair in Luke 7. We may also know that Jesus forgave her, though her sins were many. Does it matter that we don’t understand much about the ointment she used on his feet?
Readers - Scripture - Way - Significance - Terms
For most readers of Scripture, the only way to understand the significance of such terms is to use an extrabiblical reference book, such as a Bible dictionary or commentary. Though we might at first be skeptical about the value of commentaries in Bible study, these books can be divine gifts—resources that help us better grasp God’s Word and better know God himself.
Some Christians might be reluctant to use reference materials, particularly if they’ve been taught that true spirituality is separate from the academic world. Commentaries focus on the mind, whereas Bible reading ought to nourish the soul, the thinking goes. Commentaries are stale—irrelevant to my daily life. Some may associate commentaries with seminaries or academic institutions, or consider them only appropriate for educational settings, papers, and PhDs.
Others - Commentaries - Danger - Bible - Study
Others have been warned that commentaries present a direct danger to their personal Bible study. Naysayers caution Christians that reading the words of others may prevent them from thinking their own thoughts and coming to their own conclusions about Scripture. The vital steps of observing the text and interpreting it for ourselves, they worry, may be missed if we allow others to do it for us.
Because of the perspicuity (clarity) of Scripture, the central message of the Bible can indeed be understood through simply reading the text, with no...
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