Dig Deeper: Tools to unearth the Bible’s treasure by Nigel Beynon and Andrew Sach
Reviewed by iServe Africa apprentice Peter Muturi:
For a long time I deferred reading this book going by the fact that I am not that good at reading abstract materials. Yet when I read through the introduction I only realized how much I had missed. In a time when postmodernism seems to be getting the better part of everything, our interpretation of the Bible is at stake. This book opened my eyes to see how relativism infiltrates even our Bible studies sessions, with our desire not to harm anyone’s feelings we welcome all interpretations and end up affirming all positions held. Do you find it hard at times to criticize people’s interpretation of scriptures during these sessions as you weigh the options between hurting their feelings and digging up what the Word is really saying? Fortunately, this is exactly why this book was compiled to lead God’s people on the right path as pertains understanding the Word from an objective point of view.
This book like a tool box containing a guiding tool for each chapter and the authors (Beynon and Sach) explain how each tool works. But before we launch into using the tools, a chapter is dedicated to explaining the general nature of the Bible. We need to first understand that the Bible isn’t like any other book. We have to see its many literary features, understand it’s timeline and most importantly remember that it is a divine book with God as the ultimate author. What is even more striking about the Bible, as the authors explain it, is the reality that it is alive rather than just dead history. As the Word of God, it spoke to people from history and still speaks to us today and thereby we need the Holy Spirit to guide us into understanding God’s Word.
Beynon and Sach makes it easier for us through worked examples at the end of every chapter to help us see the tools at work. After that they engage the reader with a self-evaluation assignment whereby one can test their understanding and application of the tool at stake. When I was going through the book I felt like I was in a classroom with the authors leading as we the students follow. I never felt like I was all alone on my couch reading through some deep analytical material. Rather I felt like someone was holding my hand like a toddler and opening my eyes to the wonderful truths of the Word of God.
The “Author’s Purpose Tool” helps you play detective before you jump to conclusions. This, as we find out, is a very important tool – more like what shapes all the tools and the goal to which the other tools work for. We have to seek to know who is writing the piece from which we are reading, their audience, circumstance and setting and understand the theme(s) and concerns of the author.
Closely related to this is the “Context Tool” which perhaps is the most neglected tool if you ask me. Before we can endeavor to pull some verses and see ourselves in light of them, we need to understand the context. But perhaps what seems to have caught my attention more was the “Bible Timeline” and “Who Am I?” tools. I must confess that I like many of us has fallen victim of this tendency of many times reading the promises of God to Abraham and putting myself in their shoes, admiring David and thinking I maybe the David of the time, all through playing the favorable character of the times. Yet after reading the book I realize I am far many centuries away on the Biblical timeline and I am simply neither David nor Abraham. David and Abraham lived in time of the promise of the messiah and we are living after His revelation.
“So what” is the last tool. We do not only want to understand the Word and take pride in our knowledge, we need to be changed by it. At times the Word is direct like 1 Corinthians 6:18 and even when we have to dig deeper, the bottom line is that the Word is saying something to us today.
I must clarify however, that unless you take the book and open it, this review can give only too little. I think I can recommend this book to all those who seek to understand the Word of God and that is to everyone called a Christian. I hope we can be motivated to look for this Book and to study the Bible more objectively.