Wednesday, February 27, 2008

How to Study the New Testament Effectively, Guy N. Woods

How to Study the New Testament Effectively, Guy N. Woods

The importance of studying the New Testament cannot be under emphasized. Even if one studies the New Testament he can still stumble with its content. Therefore it is imperative that one not only studies but also effectively studies the New Testament.

One of the members of the church who is a sterling example of studying the New Testament effectively is Guy N. Woods. Brother Woods’ credentials are so astonishing to this amateur student that he highly recommends each person who reads this review contact the Gospel Advocate and request the tribute issue in honor of brother Woods after he left this world. When I learned this book was available; I immediately purchased and read it with great satisfaction. “How To” books, in my opinion, are only as good as the one who writes them so I was very eager to read this work.

In this book Guy N. Woods emphasizes several important rules of Bible study. One of the rules he emphasized is the importance of understanding the context of the passages we are reading. He writes:

An elementary rule of interpretation is to observe carefully the significance of that which goes before and that which follows the passage under study, before attempting to reach a conclusion as to its intended and proper meaning. Failure to follow this simple rule leads to many absurdities in the field of interpretation. More, it breeds disrespect for the word of God itself. The practice, all too common, of lifting a verse from its setting, and using it according to the whim of the speaker or writer, has led many people to the conclusion ‘that you can prove anything by the Bible’. (Woods, p. 75)

Another principle that I would like to emphasize is the importance of studying in a strictly conditioned and controlled environment. Brother Woods would travel all over the country conducting meetings all the year. To facilitate his studying, he utilized a folding table that he could set his books and typewriter upon as to create the same working environment from place to place. Once his surroundings were more familiar his productivity increased. This is an important lesson for each of us. Having a designated place to study that is designed for that purpose would increase our productivity.

Guy N. Woods also emphasized the importance of having a good reference library. He stressed that it is not the volume but the quality of books that makes for an effective library. Recommending books has a times caused some people grief because sometimes a book is not sound in every section. Some will criticize a person if they recommend a book that has an obvious weakness and will try to ascribe the weakness to the person who recommended the book. This is sad in because it discourages those who know of excellent works makes them hesitant to recommend them for fear of having to defend the entire content of a book. If the popular translations are the product of people in denominations, subject to error, and we use and recommend them, then we should at least be as gracious to those who recommend a work that is by a denominationalist. Woods provides a complete chapter on books that he has found to be of tremendous value. I appreciate his willingness to recommend books that contain content he would not agree with. I refer to this list constantly and have discovered some of the books I have written reviews on from this very list. I highly recommend this book to not only help one to study the New Testament more effectively, but to equip one’s self to do the job properly each day of our lives.

Originally printed in West Virginia Christian, Vol. 8, No. 7, July 2001, p. 2. Reprinted by permission.

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