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Book Review – The Bible Study Handbook

Book Review – The Bible Study Handbook

– A Comprehensive Guide To an Essential Practice – by Lindsay Olesberg. Originaly Published by IVP in 2012 and Indian Reprint by IVP India 2014.

Inductive Bible Study is UESI’s heritage through Dr Sterrett and other pioneers in the right from the formative years of UESI as an integral part of discipleship movement. UESI staff and leaders all along developed the thirst for Personal Bible Study for meaningful life and witness as disciples of our Lord through small groups.

As a member of this UESI family, I was curious to read Dr Ajith Fernando’s foreword under review in the IVP website. He mentions, “I use what Learned IBS from Dr Robert Traina and Dr Daniel P. Fuller everyday when I read Bible. . . I learned many lessons from Lindsay about how to study Bible and help others get its message. Naturally I welcome her Bible Study Handbook with great enthusiasm.” When I got the book, it was very exciting to go through the book.

The book is actually sharing years of IBS by way of manuscript study and its excitement and giving understandable well- structured tips for practising it progressively. After giving a “Solid Introduction” about how she was introduced and grown up in the IBS, the author presents the material in three parts.

Part I – Foundations” covers five chapters : 1) Centrality of the Word, 2) Power of the Word, 3) Authority of the Word, 4) Water for the Soul and 5) Community Around the Word. As the author points out in the introduction, each chapter ends with a reflection exercise,

designed to assess the readers heart’s posture toward the Bible. They are planned to realign the readers heart and mind so that the relationship with God through his Word can deepen.

Part II, Building Blocks has six chapters: 1) Honor the Author, 2) Respect for the Story, 3) Attentiveness, 4) Curiosity, 5) Understanding, 6) Response. In this part the author explains in detail how to study the Bible inductively and illustrates the various elements by working with the same Gospel passage. At the end of each chapter, to understand the elements covered and to practise suitable exercises are given.

Part III – Tool Box covers ten chapters on variety of topics that affect and enhance IBS. They can be independently studied and used for studying different type of books in the Bible suitably. They are: 1) Selection, 2) Creating a Manuscript, 3) Prayer, 4) Determining Genre, 5) Research Tools, 4) Identifying structure 5) Imagination 6) Commentaries 7) Studying Poetry 8) Group Study. Each chapter also includes an exercise to practise the skills presented.

Appendices A-D give additional tips for practice and Appendix E gives the resources list.

The IVP India edition is priced at Rs 180 for the sub-continent distribution. Thanks to IVP India for bringing out one of the richest books in the IBS domain for the use of both young and seasoned IBS enthusiasts at a competitive price.

It is to be noted that the details presented are oriented to the Manuscript Study which is one form of IBS. The principles presented are are similar as well as complementary to the other widely used books in UESI circle 1) How to Understand Your Bible by Dr.Sterret 2) Let the Bible Speak by UESI staff. Along with these two books the book under review can be effectively utilized to grow in IBS and to spread the excitement and practice in small groups. IBS is a very broad and deep discipline. Naturally these books cannot cover all that is under IBS domain. But they are excellent complementing books to learn, practise, grow, and teach foundational aspects of IBS.

N. Theivarajan

Kalpakkam EGF

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