Do we need to use The Books of the Bible with these guides?

Q. I have a Bible I like and am used to using. I’d prefer not to have to buy a new one to use these studies. And I am fairly certain the members of my small group might feel the same. How can I use your studies with a traditional Bible?

Your concern is perfectly understandable. We anticipated it, and that’s why we designed these guides so that they can be used with any kind of Bible. Each session is typically devoted to a natural section of a biblical book, and as the instructions at the beginning of the guides explain, “You’ll be able to identify these sections easily because they’ll be indicated by their opening lines or by some other means that makes them obvious.”  In fact, since the sessions go sequentially through biblical books, in each new session you can just pick up where you left off the last time.  So even with a traditional Bible, you’ll get much of the benefit of approaching the biblical books through their own natural structures rather than through the later artificial additions of chapters and verses. You don’t need to get a whole new Bible just to use these guides.The Books of the Bible

That much said, you will definitely have the best experience with these study guides, and in your small group discussions, if you do use The Books of the Bible.  Without chapters and verses, the Bible reads like the collection of books it really is.  I invite you to to give this way of reading Scriptures a try–I think you’ll be very pleasantly surprised!  (You can find out more about The Books of the Bible by reading this Wikipedia article.  You can download and preview several biblical books from the edition here. To find out how to order a copy, see this post.)

I think you’ll quickly adjust to reading and discussing the Bible without using chapter and verse references. You’ll find that this is much closer to the way you’d discuss any other book, for example, in a book club.  You’ll discover that you can refer to places in the passage descriptively (“When Nicodemus first arrives . . .”) or by quoting short phrases (“When he says, ‘We know that you are a teacher who has come from God . . .'”). It doesn’t take long to catch on.

I wish you and your small group a great experience, whatever Bible you use with these guides. (But I definitely encourage you to check out The Books of the Bible!)

Author: Christopher R Smith

The Rev. Dr. Christopher R. Smith is a writer and biblical scholar who is also an ordained minister. He was active in parish and student ministry for twenty-five years. He was a consulting editor to the International Bible Society (now Biblica) for The Books of the Bible, an edition of the Scriptures that presents the biblical books according to their natural literary outlines, without chapters and verses. His Understanding the Books of the Bible study guide series is keyed to this format. He has an A.B. from Harvard in English and American Literature and Language, a Master of Arts in Theological Studies from Gordon-Conwell, and a Ph.D. in the History of Christian Life and Thought, with a minor concentration in Bible, from Boston College, in the joint program with Andover Newton Theological School.

4 thoughts on “Do we need to use The Books of the Bible with these guides?”

  1. I am going to try to use one of your study books with my Bible study group who all use their own Bibles. I understand your desire for us to use your Bible. So, I would suggest that you do what NIV Life Application studies do, which is to reproduce just the book of the Bible being studied in their translation at the beginning of their study books. Once a group would get experience using your Bible at the beginning of your study book, they might really like it and choose to buy one.

    1. This is an excellent suggestion and one that we actually considered as the series was being developed by Biblica. But in the end they decided not to add the extra pages because they would have to pass the cost along to the purchaser and they wanted to make these guides as affordable as possible. (The series has since been acquired by IVP.) I hope the guide works well with your group and I’d appreciate having your feedback here afterwards. I’m in a group now that’s using the Joshua-Judges-Ruth guide with the Covenant History volume from Biblica (see next post for details), only $5, small, and lightweight. It’s going really well and this is another good way to introduce people to the format. An idea to consider if you’re going to be doing a New Testament book or one of the books from Genesis through Kings.

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