[ God's Learning System ]

Scripture Debates, Bumpkinism, and what to do about it

Intra-page links: [ Canonicity]  [ Recommended BibleStudy materials]  [ James 4:5 mistranslation ]  [ Study to learn God's Love, not works ]

"Bumpkin" is an old American word for a nice-but-ignorant person: he keeps bumping into things he knows nothing about. ("Country bumpkin" is the most common usage of the term, for an unsophisticated farmboy newly-arrived into the "City".) So, are we Bible Bumpkins? Bumping into the Word of God, nice-but-ignorant? And how do we remedy this problem?

Well, first thing is to see what is and is not, a Bible Bumpkin. Click Here for the profile of a Bible Bumpkin. Ooops. Not too good, huh. Pretty common, us Bible bumpkins, huh. Click Here for the profile of a person really learning Bible properly. Wow. I bet that's real different from what you expected. Click Here for the profile of a former Bible Bumpkin who lives instead in God's System, how his spiritual life 'plays'. We were all Bible bumpkins, in the beginning. Those tips help you grow OUT of bumpkinning the fastest, while you are in God's System.

Here's why this is so important: Bible is God's Word, and it's your food and drink. For you are a Royal Priest under God. Click Here for a brief on Your Royal Priest Nature. That whole webpage is designed to orient a reader to the 'big picture' (non-denominational) of our spiritual life in Christ, what it essentially means.

BECAUSE our real nature is Royal Priest, and BECAUSE we are designed to live on the Word (Matt4:4), the Bible has been largely kidnapped for 18 centuries. Due to this kidnapping (by Satan&Co., obviously), what translations have existed, have been bad. Trouble is, the 'new' ones are still bad (some slightly better, many are even worse). So the original-language texts of Bible, hidden mostly until the mid-1800's, are still 'kidnapped' to anyone who only studies a translation. You can prove satanic involvement in the mistranslations, and you can also prove that the translators and teachers had NO CLUE and would never intend for Bible to be misrepresented in any way. But Satan&Co. are way smarter than our best and brightest (who deserve the biggest salaries we can pay). Bible people are hit by Satan&Co., that's why. Never blame teachers and translators, etc. but do use the fact of them being inept, as a BIG WARNING to breathe 1Jn1:9. For if those much smarter than you or me could be made to malign God in translation and teaching, we of course are Satanfodder.. absent 1Jn1:9.

Click Here for a quick sample list of Bible Mistranslations. Click Here for a longer discussion on how Bible mistranslations come about.

Every one of my websites corrects translations in the Bible, since what I'm claiming is nothing like the translation. It's real important to know the Bible is rampantly mistranslated. Far from threatening your confidence in God's Word, your confidence in the Word will skyrocket -- especially when people say the Bible is bunk: for they make those claims based on the usually-bad translations. Bible proves so utterly to be from God in the original-language texts, you'll feel like you're staring God in the face each time. I do, anyway. Also, by using the original-language texts you avoid many of those Dung pitfalls the Bible bumpkins make. Whew.

Canonicity: Big Key to seeing it's God's Word

This original-language, PROVABLY "inspired, infallible" Scripture has a tumultuous history. Unlike every other holy book, everyone's been trying to 'kidnap' the Bible from Day One. The fact that we have it so widely available now is a very rare thing: in fact only during the past 150 years has mankind EVER had it wholly available. Our Word of the Cross is truly a prize, which most people in history have not gotten! Now, think: if all holy books were alike, why then is THIS one, so continually messed with and argued over? Hidden, torn up, even.. for CENTURIES? Hmmm. No human lives that long, to so mount a conspiracy to cover up the Bible, right?

"Canonicity" is the name usually given to the history of how what we call the Bible, came to be. The topic is popular right now, so books/videos at Amazon etc. abound. (I highly recommend The Book: The History of the Bible, by Christopher de Hamel. It's expensive, so maybe share the cost with a friend.) If you spend time learning about the Bible's origin you'll discover a most curious thing: the Bible wasn't widely available until the last few hundred years, and only in the last 150 years have we had truly reliable copies of its sub-books. Moreover, it's in the 20th century that many caches are found which help us to properly READ those languages (viz., discovery of grammar rules). Ponder what all this recent-discoveryness means, and you should derive at least three conclusions:

  • Almost no one gave a flip about Scripture until lately, yet whatever manuscripts of Scripture were obtainable, whoever needed them -- got them;
  • God managed, thank you, to get His Message across even though the texts available were few, restricted to and manipulated by 'holy' people, and were transmitted largely by word-of-mouth to illiterate masses.
  • All the controversy now, in our "Everybody's-talking-at-me" epoch, still hides the Truth, what with all the drowning-in-words that constitutes our "information age".

Canonicity also reveals the fact that the decision about what does and doesn't constitute God's Word is itself not a "matter of private interpretation". Think of the game, "Mousetrap", or "Jenga", or any game with a lot of pieces which all have to work just right in order for the whole to function (or stand up stably). Or, think of all the things in a car which have to be functioning properly for the car to take you where you want to go! If you get into the study of Canonicity, one conclusion will jump out at you: it wasn't the people who ruled what was canonical, but rather the MANY variables which had to be just right to PROVE it was from God all DEMONSTRATED themselves. Really, 'from Moses' time, forward, way before Constantine. Kinda like in a crime, where one has so many pieces of evidence only one conclusion is possible, so also in the "crime" of mere-men-writing, the Bible is demonstrably innocent. For, the Bible's verses are forever on-Trial, in the mind of man.

You'll notice I said "verses", not merely "books" are subject to this minute testing. They STILL are. For, what we have as extant "MSS" of the Bible are in fact altered, but in only about 1-2% of the texts (maybe somewhat more). How do we know that? Well, because we have thousands of texts: some contain no more than one verse. Comparing one with another is part of the artful science of what's called "textual criticism". Such a low error rate is just enough to keep everyone on his toes, heh.

In short, counterfeit writings have occasionally been slipped in; other verses vary by an interpretative change in a word or two; still others, because of some error in the copying. Because we have so many manuscripts, most of which are relatively recent discoveries, it's easy to see if a variance from the others is a forgery, a mistake, or otherwise significant. (Remember, they didn't have copiers, so everyone who wanted a copy of something Biblical had to have it written.)

It's a funny thing, the story of those original languages. "Textual criticism" also involves dating the material. One aspect of dating of course relates to physicalities, like the type and age of the material on which the text appears, the handwriting style, etc. But the more important aspect of dating the writing has to do with the words themselves. The New Testament, for example, is written in a weird linguistic window of history: at a time when a new kind of Greek which had been deliberately developed for conquest, also became popular in the Middle East. I don't know of any other time in history where a parallel to this linguistic window existed. It appears to be unique.

What happened? Alexander the Great's successful imperialistic drive to conquer the world produced a welcome stability in a world constantly at war. So, people who fought and people who were conquered came to have peaceful contact; they lived together, had families together, becoming a melting pot. The language Alexander's troops had to learn to talk with each other (for they were of differing Greek dialects) mingled with that of the conquered peoples, to produce what's known as the "koine" (common) Greek of the New Testament.

That language didn't remain static, as no language does. Further, when a language is newly popular, the previous languages' characteristics 'invade' that language. Here's a reverse example: in Russian, French, and German there are Americanisms sprinkled in everyday speech; so also in the New Testament there are Atticisms, Hebraisms, and other non-koine words/uses-of-words. These all had a temporary shelf-life. As time passed, new words replaced them. Koine itself even died. In short, the change in the language was documented because we have a lot of it in writing. Kinda like a calendar, the usage of the words tells you the age. And, since for a long time the text was missing, and even the languages rules themselves became lost, the Bible wasn't adulterated. [Greek grammars all had to be thrown out, when the rules were found! It's amazing that the previous translations (e.g., KJV) were still passable, given the many mistakes translators had made, regarding the rules.] You can't adulterate what you can't find and don't know how to slant to your sect's preference!

So, by referring to extra-Biblical material written at the time when the Lord or some apostle was supposed to have been around, it can be demonstrated what was the ORIGINAL date of the penned copies we have. Word-by-word, verse-by-verse. So, one can tell if any subsequent copies adulterated the text, since later words would not 'belong' to the same time period. More importantly, the ORIGINAL words' dating helps one understand what was meant THEN: for just as language changes, so also do customs and news in people's lives. (Kinda like someone in the year 3003 coming across scraps which talk about the 'fall' of the Berlin wall, a new release of Windows, "the Matrix", or Beanie Babies.) How people lived at the time Scripture was written is referenced in Scripture in many ways. Identifying these "isagogics" helps one not only date the text, but interpret it, too.

Why, then, was the Bible not readily available? Going by what one can learn historically, and what Scripture says, a whole lot of folks became Christians within 100 years after Christ died. Aha: the fact that the Bible has been "hidden" for so long is often due to persecution. Read up on the Emperor Diocletian. Before him, from Claudius through Marcus Antoninus, there were many persecutions. In short, the Bible has almost always been an underground book -- for fear of persecution. Even today, the manuscripts still extant are probably far more than we know, but they are hidden due to their extreme worth. (Codex Sinaiticus, for example, which is one of the larger manuscripts, was sold in 1933 by Russia to Britain for what in today's US dollars would be worth over $500,000. Codex Vaticanus, another large manuscript, was kept hidden in the Vatican from the mid-1400's until a guy named Tregelles managed to memorize too much of it and print his memory's contents, which forced the Vatican to publish it.)

The Bible is still "hidden" today, for all the manuscripts we have, so what point is there in God trotting out yet more copies? Look at the loudness of the controversy surrounding it. Clever thing, that: make a thing/person controversial, and everyone gets curious -- for only about 15 minutes. After that, the controversy looks too tangled to warrant investigation, so whatever soundbytes about it are given -- are accepted. Too much trouble to find out who's really guilty, or innocent. So, the controversy 'hides' in plain sight. We've been drowned with it, our curiousity slaked. So if, as was done with Enron and Arthur Anderson, trumpeters tell us, "Guilty!" -- we'll agree. So much easier to buy the allegation. Saves the time and trouble of a fair trial. Ho Hum. See? Since the kidnapping of Scripture didn't hold, the next best thing is to kidnap our attention -- and then feed that attention with soundbyte answers, to "dull" us (cf Heb5:11-6:6).

Moreover, as Paul (like Isaiah before him) often remarks, the Bible's text remains "hidden" to those who are negative to it. Seeing, they don't see; hearing, they don't hear. Why? Well, look: man naturally won't like hearing what makes him feel bad about himself, and the Bible is chock-full of nasty statements on man's character. This, so that man will stop trying to make himself good (hallmark characteristic of our sin-in-Adam, the Lady-MacBeth urge to remove our damned spot). This, so that man will turn to His Savior to be healed (cf 2Chron7:14 for a parallel verse regarding believers). We all need this healing, but who likes to hear something disliked? So, then: we all reject something in the Word, temporarily or for even a lifetime -- so, the defense mechanisms we used to reject that something "hide" it from us, as any psychiatrist can tell you.

The Bible is also hidden for what might be called a 'nicer' reason: there's a lot to learn! It's normal to expect that Holy, Infinite God would not be learnable in a nanosecond. Or, even in a lifetime. It's also normal to expect that Holy, Infinite God would 'find a way', so to speak, to enable us puny humans to learn Him. So, "due diligence" means REALLY learning Him. Not settling for fake-bibles, men's or Satan's substitutes.

Granted, this means a life of study, not just a college term. Soundbyte meanings of verses might do in a pinch, but God help the person who never progresses into "the deeper things of God"! Every aspect of his life will end up being as shriveled as his understanding of Scripture (cf Num11:6, orig langs and KJV), a fact which will remain hidden from his awareness, so long as he stands pat (i.e., in the name of loyalty to a sect's doctrines, rather than God's doctrines). Satan will of course try to do just that: get the believer 'stuck' in his sect or in soundbytes. Stuckness is a type of "hardness" (Bible term). The believer who settles for soundbytes, who doesn't dig into the Word with his brain (1Jn1:9!) on, will miss out on the exalted purpose of being in this body: seeing Him. Worse, he will end up being deaf, dumb, blind: Satan-fodder. Meaningless life, miserable life.

    For example, Scripture's original languages have a rich aural history -- HEARING the Word conveyed additional meaning. The "etymology" (origin) of words conveyed even richer meaning. For example, the Hebrew word for "destroy" has the root meaning of "to silence" -- which, in Hosea 4, is a very rich word-play: because they weren't HEARING doctrine, they who put God's word to silence would themselves be silenced by judgement (to the Northern Kingdom, aka "Samaria"). In short, every word in the Word has many layers of meanings, and these many layers are conveyed by every tiny characteristic of grammar, syntax, and etymology. It's not humanly possible to convey so much integrated, omnidirectional meaning, over 40 authors and about 1500 years of the Scripture's compilation. So GOD and no one else was alone capable of writing it. (THAT's why I know the Bible is the Word of God; initially, I had just believed it was, because its central message made sense versus other God-concepts; and, I believed the persons who told me it was. But beginning in 1995, I'd learned enough to see its infallible divinity with my own eyes, myself, just like Jer31:31-34 promised.)

    For another example, all the fake-bible books (Jewish pseudopigrapha, Apocrypha, Christian pseudopigrapha, Christian and gnostic Apocrypha/Gospels/Apocalypses) are rip-roaring satanic derision, kinda like a Benny Hill show, or Mad Magazine. A person has to be deaf, dumb and blind to believe that even one iota of these books is something inspired. Try reading them sometime: The Other Bible, by Willis Barnstone (Harper & Row) is a handy collection of these blatant, slapstick, satanic insults, which are also (if you read between the lines) Satan&Co.'s fantasy of beating God. Remarkable stuff: the writings don't even TRY to be good imitations of Scripture.

In short, the Bible is demonstrably from God, but for you to see that, you've got to do some digging. You can forego the digging and rely on some expert, but then how do you know what that expert is really saying? If you respect his teaching, then wouldn't you at least dig into the original languages to appreciate what he says the more? Conversely, how do you know that the expert isn't selling you snake oil? You can't rely on a feeling, or on how nice the expert is, or any other body factor, since Satan can (and routinely does) use feeling/appearance to sell his wares. So, like that lady in Texas who thought she saw the Virgen in her corn tortilla, and the poor folks (at Lourdes?) who all thought they saw the sun revolve backwards seven times, who took that as a "sign from God" -- well, they didn't even CARE that God wouldn't do such a stupid thing. Come on, now: crying statues, rolling on the floor spouting gibberish? Who in his right mind would ascribe that to an activity which Wholly-Perfect-Sensible GOD would deign to do? When did GOD become a circus clown? After all, He wouldn't jump from the Temple, either (see Matt 4). So, guess what? Satan&Co. produce nice, touchy-feely mass hallucinations -- yet, despite such crass derision of God, they're hailed as 'miracles'? Get real! No wonder Peter even discounted his own Transfiguration witness as less reliable than Scripture! (2Pet1:16ff, Matt17, Mark 9.)

So, then: our eyes and ears are not reliable; a person's niceness or graduation certificates or high-standing-in-the-Church are not reliable. Some dream or vision or 'holy language' communication is not reliable, either -- for all of those things are silly, enfin. Then what's reliable? The Holy Spirit. And He makes sense. He's out to make sons for the Son so that the Son will have a Fit Bride -- everyone in Christendom recognizes at least that much. Which makes sense, doesn't it? So, to test anything, ask: does this make sense? Would God do such a thing, or is Satan satirizing Him? Then, get digging...

Study Sources for due diligence

How do I execute my own due diligence? Well, my pastor only taught Bible from the original languages, and I've been under him pretty much daily since 1971. So I've got what amounts to a beyond-seminary education (absent stuff one rarely needs for Bible interpretation, about the Church Fathers, denominations, special terms related to them). So, in my case, since my pastor spends so much time explaining the words in the original languages, and if he differs from the "mainstream" in some interpretation, he shows what points of syntax or etymology cause him to differ, all I need to do is first be sure I understand what he says -- and then go to books which will cover that exegetical information, so I can understand him better. I've got many such books.

    From what I can tell, the mainstream pastors/translators/ exegetes pay far less attention to etymology or special uses, despite the fact that they in principle recognize these things are important to detect. For example, in the NT, they often mistake Attic or Doric Greek constructions for koine. (Eph1:7 is a really good example: how anyone can call it a koine double accusative of apposition, rather than the Attic accusative of object-and-result (in light of Col1:14, 3:25, 1Jn1:8-10, Ps32:5, Ps66:18, "if we judge ourselves" and 1Jn5:16), I can't begin to fathom. I mean, it's KNOWN that one should compare Scripture with Scripture before rendering a doctrine out of a verse. So, my pastor had to spend months alerting us to this now-mainstream error.)

    Moreover, they don't address the multiple levels of meaning as ALL being intended by God: even though, they teach about it under the moniker, "deliberate ambiguity", in seminary! For example, "onoma" is usually translated as "name", but its meaning is never divorced from the QUALITY of the person or his reputation, which the name is supposed to illustrate: hence, "title". Thus, often "onoma" refers to ALL the uses it has, in a verse. Same, for "sozo" and cognates: "salvation" to get-to-Heaven is often the bottom-end meaning, and the verse is explaining the top-end deliverance result, rather than setting some kind of what-ya-gotta-do-to-be-saved condition. So, verses like these are too shallowly exegeted: thus, dingbats think that they can lose their salvation! As if God couldn't get it finished all by Himself! See? If we don't ask, "how much sense does this make?", we're Satan-fodder. More importantly, if we don't ask "how much sense does this make", no authorization for pastors to teach better is being floated up to Heaven. So, teachers don't teach what students don't want. Even the Lord had to speak in parables, due to our volitional deafness.

    Finally, perhaps in deference to the tolerance-for-detail in their audience, they don't flesh out advanced mechanics of doctrines the verses reveal, though they often accurately prove core meanings. So, the "mainstream" views all result in a rudimentary or fuzzy idea of God's/Our Lord's Nature, Plan, Salvation, and post-salvation spiritual life. So no wonder the denominations wrangle: one denomination sees one layer, and another, another -- but they treat the layer they think they understand as the SOLE meaning, and argue with each other: "always learning, but never coming to a full knowledge" -- 2Tim3:7.

It's also helpful to have both the original languages of Scripture and the translations, on CD. There are many shareware versions you can get for free: search in Dogpile for "online Bibles". Some are audio! Wow, just imagine: just 100 years ago, only the rare scholar could even see a decent copy of a manuscript, but today, it's on CD for anyone! What a treasure! If you're very serious about the Word and you're willing to spend $300, I really recommend BibleWorks. It offers so much for that $300, you'll save a ton on seminary books (books I bought at a nearby seminary cost me easily another $300, back in the days when BibleWorks didn't have them on the CD). The BibleWorks tech support is very good; once you get the hang of the windows, the software is relatively easy to use. Click Here for their website. The lexicons are (imo) inadequate, but are the most-venerated. (You can get full Kittle on CD at Amazon or bn.com, which is excellent. Strong's is too weak.) I use BibleWorks every day. Saves me a ton of time, as well as a ton of effort, especially since I learned from the original-language texts under my pastor; so often remember snippets in those languages, but rarely can search on what I know is the corrected translation.

The point of studying the language is manifold: a) you'll see that indeed, the Word of God is not subject to private interpretation, because there are so many rules one needs to know and know how to spot; b) without the Holy Spirit, you can't figure out what the verse actually says; c) you can see more clearly WHY a particular interpretation is assigned to a verse or keyword.

Similarly, most of the language books I use would be too complicated to recommend: but one is easy-to-read, and has really neat summaries of the Scriptural debates, chock full of examples. It's not overly-deep, but it is a great way to organize one's due diligence. It's called Greek Grammar: Beyond the Basics by Daniel B. Wallace. It's included in BibleWorks, already. I don't use it much, but when I need to look up something, it's pretty helpful. Again, I get study already under someone who teaches from the original languages. But if you don't, this book is a big help.

    The book is very well organized; disputed verses and interpretations are in it, along with discussion of what the differences are. Pretty even-handed. An advanced NT scholar would appreciate its ease-of-use, as a handy reference though he already knows Biblical Greek well; the neophyte wouldn't be intimidated by its scholarly explanations. Everyone will better appreciate the fact that Scripture didn't just become "canon" by some committee vote! Finally, we all can come to see that differences in interpretation should be based on something in the original languages. That makes for an objective standard, since the language rules are so very many and since we found manuscripts telling us those rules: Christians didn't invent the rules, lol. Thank God, we don't have to rely on 'miracles', either. We've got the "sign [miracle] of Jonah", instead: Bible Doctrine!

Wish I could say I found Hebrew books of like value. It's amazing how convoluted Hebrew study materials are, whether old Hebrew, or even modern dictionaries and language books. It's as if the organization of the material were a swift gotta-get-it-out process, with almost NO regard for how the reader needs to see the material to 'get' it. Also, you really need to have a pair of magnifying glasses with at least 325 power, to read the vowel points. A CD is far better than the books; BibleWorks has recognized standard works on their CD -- and that's a huge savings (Hebrew books are extremely expensive). Alternatively, look at Amazon's used books or at a good nearby seminary ("good" being defined as one which stresses learning the original languages of Scripture for a LOT longer than the disrespectful-to-God, peremptory "2 years" standard).

Wish I could get someone to recommend a good philological/phonological dictionary; many exist (at least in Amazon's catalog), but which to choose? I have the huge three-volume Webster's Third International Dictionary, but that's a general dictionary, so the explanation of the technical terms is way too brief. So I got Mario Pei's out-of-print Glossary of Linguistic Terminology from Amazon Used Books. It's fairly comprehensive, but old.

Here's a gem: Thorleif Boman's Hebrew Thought Compared with Greek. Amazon has it for $12. It really helps one get the flavor of Biblical Hebrew and Greek in general. Its theme: each language has a sort of philosophy embedded in its structure, and for Biblical analysis purposes it is important to know how differences in language structure communicate differences in Biblical interpretation of a passage.

Also, a good interlinear Bible in hardback, or on CD is helpful. "Interlinear" means that the original language is printed double-spaced, and between the lines, the translation (i.e., in English) of that word appears. You can get interlinears in almost any language. If you speak Spanish, Lacueva's NT interlinear edition of the Regina is fantastic: it's published by CLIE. For English, there are some good ones and some bad ones. The Interlinear Bible by Sovereign Grace Publishers is one of the bad ones, although it is the easiest to use among the interlinears I have. You can make the BibleWorks CD 'act' like an interlinear: email them for details, for I haven't yet upgraded beyond BibleWorks 5. If I ever find a good interlinear STUDY Bible, I'll note it here. William D. Mounce has one out called the NIV Interlinear Bible, at Amazon. It's morphological, so you can see the parsing of the words as you read. (CD versions almost always give you the morphological tags as well, so if you've got a CD, you don't need this book.)

    Interlinears are typically pooh-poohed at seminary, on the (valid) grounds that the "literal" translation picked below (or beside) the original word misleads the reader. I would counter that learning the original language requires some kind of training-wheels "fast start". Alexander Hamilton thought so, too, for his publishing company made interlinears of Cicero's speeches for that reason (I have one of them, and am paraphrasing). He'd add that one becomes more-quickly familiar with the original words. Moreover, I'd add that the discordant word-under-word translation helps one see meanings previously missed, because one lacks a "familiar" reading of the verse. A lot of misinterpretation of Bible is due to sleepy reading; and even after 30 years, I find that happen to me. Go a lot slower or faster when you study -- anything to prevent the 'sleepy rhythm' of the English from clouding understanding. So, to awaken, be aware, practice reading the language's text aloud; for while you read, you'll see the translated (albeit misleading) meaning. You'd be surprised how much more quickly this practice speeds comprehension, esp. with 1Jn1:9 used, the meanwhile. '15 minutes a day.

If you can't afford an interlinear, try some comprehensive study Bible, with a GIGANTIC concordance. "Study Bible" means cross-relating verses elsewhere in the Bible; explanations of keywords are also given. These all INTERPRET Scripture according to the viewpoint of the editors, but they are really helpful. See, you learn WHY folks get their interpretations, and HOW they add Scripture to Scripture, to do it. So it doesn't matter that a view you see, you see as 'wrong': study how and why the editors derive their conclusions. Also, with a Study Bible you can somewhat blunt the problem of a bad translation, for the cross-references are usually decided based on KEYWORDS in the verse from the original languages.

You can't find a good Bible translation anywhere, so you're shooting in the dark. Here's what I mean: let's take two so-called "problem passages" in Scripture. Keep this question in mind, as you read these indented paragraphs: if even the elite scholars can be so totally confused and blinded by what they know from 1st-year seminary are error to spot, how much more, are we vulnerable? In short, without 1Jn1:9, we're satanfodder, brainouts...

Take great care in selecting a Study Bible, for it will greatly affect your understanding of God. You'll probably have to shop in person. Compare

The Scofield editions still seem to offer the most comprehensive cross-listings; they exhaustively explain an interpetation -- which you can accept or reject, but in the process of reading their analyses, you learn a LOT about how to study! Amazon offers Scofield Study Bibles in KJV, NASB, and NIV translations at Amazon. It's hard to tell which is which on the site. Search with "Study Bible" (plus your version choice) in the title, and "Scofield" in the author, to cull out duplicate entries. Other Study Bibles which seemed worth checking into (given the exerpts offered @Amazon) were Cambridge Annotated, Concordia, Harper (largely used, out-of-print), "Key" (by a guy named Spiros Zodhiates), Nelson, Ryrie. The foregoing all come in more than one translation version, so you can select the version you like in the Study Bible format you like. Of these others, both Concordia and Nelson seemed to be the most comprehensive. Amazon has 1511 listings(!) of books it considers "Study Bibles" and I went through most of them.

Sadly, the other so-called study Bibles were horrible. Not the Bible at all, but paraphrase: and if some bible claims to be based on gender or race, avoid it like the plague: Gal3:26-28 makes it clear there are no gender or social distinctions, so anyone providing a study bible based on them, wouldn't know the Bible if it bit them. 2Cor5:17 (in Greek), and Gal3:26ff ("ff" means "and following") and all of Eph4 say God says EVERYONE is EQUAL, fully Royal Family, one in Christ: there are NO racial, social, sexual distinctions among His Royal Family. So, how accurate do you think gender/race-based 'study bibles' will be?

Hear the Word. Hearing the Word while 1Jn1:9 is used is much more productive than merely reading it. Probably, because God ordained a pastor-teacher for each of us to HEAR (He shows you who He's chosen for YOU -- be alert). Besides the shareware audio Bibles you can get, many are sold. They are available in many languages, and the English versions I saw were NIV and KJV (maybe NASB, too, I don't remember). For example, I just acquired Christian Duplications International New Testament in modern Greek on cassette, to go with my upgrade to BibleWorks. Hearing 2Cor and Ephesians SPOKEN, even though in modern Greek, alerted me to wordplays and cadences which elaborated on the meanings in the verses, and is SO ALIVE -- not the dry, insipid English! They have their own website: CLICK HERE. Also, Charles Pennington's CD on Biblical Greek (I couldn't find a Hebrew counterpart), which he reads aloud the koine pronounciation of words. You can get it at Amazon for about $30.

Rent videos of Classical Greek plays, or read some. Much of NT wording is Attic Greek (a fact which is largely ignored today), because like Shakespeare, Greek play metaphors and structures were well-known. So, in order to memorably teach their audience, the NT writers make allusions to Greek cultural concepts to show how the Real God is superior, inter alia. Very witty, frankly. Ephesians, 1Jn and Revelation will make a lot more sense once you realize the play-within-a-play, Greek-drama writing style. You'd never mistake the Rapture as being mid- or end-Tribulation, if you understood the Greek time-marker phrase, "meta tauta"; or, how Greek plays are in fours, so Revelation is structured that way, for example.

Study your native language, too. Richard Armour (mostly out-of-print), Edwin Neumann, William Safire, George Will, Wilson Follet, Theodore Bernstein all write really nifty books on how English works, for example. Thus, you come to appreciate the many variables which go into making a language communicate. You will come to love your language. Language isn't just tense, mood, cases, parts-of-speech, idiom. There are many intangibles: wordplay (in every verse of Scripture!), ellipsis, use of syntax, even breaking-the-rules-on-purpose, to make a point. It's like making music. Study here will also help you appreciate that the often sonorous religious committee-approved Bible translations are stripped-down meanings!

Quite often, the real problem of misreading Scripture has nothing to do with whether the passage is correctly translated. Rather, the reader can't think at that moment; or, he decides on a narrow meaning. We all have such moments. So, use 1Jn1:9, put the book down, dawdle for a few minutes or talk with God the Father to refresh yourself, and then try again. This is the Word of God, folks. It deserves our every love. (Cf Heb 4:11ff.)

And that's the point: LOVE.

So far, it kinda looks like all this study-talk is some kind of dry duty. WHAT A LIE! It's so Exciting, I want to do it every waking hour! [God is not so imbalanced, lol. EVERY SECOND in EVERYTHING is some version of Bible class, hooray!] Of course, we genetically-depraved humans sorta orient to 'duty', because we constantly think, "What must I do?" Most Christian churches and writings are all pressing on us to comport, to 'do' something, to 'fit in', lol. It's an understandable approach, since we are bumpkinning around together, and we need some kind of authority to restrain our urges. But, look: People, people, people..what happened to God, God, God? WHY are we here?

God thinks differently. His Word is pure Beauty, and He wants us to enjoy the Word as He does. A Gift, not a burden. A Joy, not a chore. I mean, pretend we had no duties at all (frankly, the Cross eliminated all human duty): would there be a reason to know this Word? Absolutely! Seeing His Thinking, coming to share that Thinking and thus have rapport with Him, is the greatest life, period.

So, being in the Spirit is of utmost importance: we won't want to miss Him! Sure, at the beginning we're baffled. The (translated) verses are snoozy, and it sure doesn't seem like they are the true and only Panacea. Our me-be-good urges press the lie that there must be 'something else'. Hang in there. Use 1Jn1:9 and keep learning -- stand still, and WATCH the deliverance of the Lord!

    As Christians we were regenerated by means of the Holy Spirit creating a human spirit (e.g., Titus 3:5). So, of COURSE we're baffled in the beginning. We are BABIES! God the Holy Spirit will gradually pour His Word into us via the human spirit in order to enable us to see His Son. Now, this human spirit, the receptacle of your God-given imputed Righteousness and Eternal Life, is permanent and immaterial, so can't be 'sensed' at all. It functions undetectably as a translator, a kind of spiritual operating system. ONLY the Holy Spirit can run it. No act of will can run it, no amount of wishing can run it, and no feeling or vision, etc. will manifest it. What WILL manifest it is that you will find the snoozy verses are no longer snoozy. They will begin to not only make sense, but you will begin to enthuse over their many meanings!

    But that's only true if the Holy Spirit is running your human spirit. So, if the Holy Spirit isn't running it, your spiritual life 'crashes' (like a freeze in Windows) -- and it only crashes, when you sin. Time to reboot! Use 1Jn1:9! For, absent that fellowship/ Filling, our carnality renders our learning useless. Over time, sustained carnality wrecks one's non-spiritual life as well. (Cf 1Jn1:8-10 and passim in 1Jn; 2Tim3:5-7, Philipians 3:15-18.) That's why we must be in fellowship (aka "Filled") with the Holy Spirit in order for us to HAVE spiritual discernment. ("Filling" is what the Holy Spirit does to the SOUL to enable spiritual comprehension; He uses the human spirit to do this, but you won't 'feel' any of it at any time).

      [CAUTION: not all verses with the word "spirit" in them are talking about the human spirit; some refer to the Holy Spirit; some references refer to the soul; some are 'shorthand' for simply being alive. Look up the many meanings of "ruach" and "pneuma", and be VERY careful when you read verses with "spirit" in them, to note context. Often, these words are 'ambiguously' used to accomplish word-play: "life"= having-a-"spirit"-to-hear-the-"Spirit", heh. Much misdefining of the spiritual life is due to too-shallow exegesis of these words. Check it out! Enjoy!]

Therefore, to ensure fellowship, make it a constant habit to a) use 1Jn1:9, and b) practice common sense. Fellowship with the Spirit will manifest in Him recalling to your mind Bible doctrine you know pertinent to whatever circumstance/study you're in. The more Bible Doctrine you've learned, the more you'll come to clearly and constantly see its application to virtually everything in life; the more you'll learn to live on it -- and, best of all, see the Beloved. Along the way, even the more-refined sin habits like self-righteousness, frustration, prickliness will fade, like baby fat. "All fat is the Lord's". Heh. Bible Doctrine burns up the Energizer-Bunny sin factory to produce a sweet savor, while we delight in the WORD's "fatness". Pretty fair exchange, eh what?

After all, Bible Doctrine is His Thinking! That's why the Spirit handles all the spiritual processing and recall; but He won't do anything against your volition, and if you're in a temporary state of sin, all you'll get is discipline to wake up and use 1Jn1:9! So, study daily, if you can. In the privacy of your soul, try this procedure and see if it doesn't work for you. (Click here for a LOT more detail on this spiritual procedure and its "sons" purpose.)

Of course, no spiritual function can be done 'in the flesh' at all. That's why it can't be felt, either. Again, repeated use of 1Jn1:9 is so important. Tip#1:repeatedly ask in the Lord's Name for the Father to have the Spirit keep reminding you if you're thinking amiss: to set up a "guard" who prompts for the password, so to speak. To halt every idea, "bring every thought into captivity" with, "Does this idea make sense? If so, why? If not, why not?" Pretend you're being given an oral examination by the Father, and you have to explain to Him the pro's and con's of some idea. It's fun, and it really helps speed spiritual comprehension. Tip#2: if you find yourself with some urge to accept an idea/interpretation, look for what's wrong with it. Conversely, if you've some urge to reject, give the interpretation the benefit of the doubt. Maybe the 'contradiction' or 'heresy' you think you see/hear would not be so, if you thought over the matter, or if you simply got more information on it. After all, you know how bad it is when YOU are misunderstood. So maybe the Bible is, too.

The Bible claims to be the Word of God. No council invented that claim. The text itself makes that claim. The Bible says a lot of things which are "hard to understand", as Peter might put it. But if it's the Word of God, isn't it worth the time to learn? And how can we ever fulfill the First Commandment, and ENJOY KNOWING HIM, if we don't learn it as a first priority? Think it over..and bump into the Bible, with zest!