I originally started this blog to support groups that were using the study guides in my Understanding the Books of the Bible series. The publisher, InterVarsity Press, felt that because people usually approach the Bible as a single reference volume divided into chapters and verses, they could probably use some real-time help approaching it instead as a collection of individual creative works, as my series would lead them to do. You’ll see that in the earliest posts, the questions are about concerns that arise from using the guides.
But the blog quickly expanded as people from around the world started asking their own questions about the Bible and I offered my thoughts in response. There are now well over 500 posts, and most of them are responses to questions I’ve been asked either through this blog itself, or else in person, by email, through Facebook, or in some other way. I always say, “There’s no such thing as a bad question about the Bible.” That’s why this blog is called Good Question.
Any question I’ve been asked by someone else appears in bold type at the start of a post. In a few posts, I share my own ongoing reflections about the Bible, and those begin in regular type. Either way, I write about what the Bible is and how it is supposed to guide the lives of followers of Jesus when we understand it as a collection of books, not as a compendium of chapters and verses.
A friend of mine recently shared the following material with me (slightly adapted here) from a devotional book by Charles Stanley. I think it’s very well put, and it captures the spirit in which I try to approach the Bible on this blog. “To get the most out of the Bible, pray and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you into the truth. Give yourself permission to ask questions that may not have answers. Wonder aloud, imagine the scene, and take note of anything that surprises, confuses, or even offends you. Above all else, trust the Lord. He’s the best teacher.”
Let me tell you a little bit about myself. I’m a writer, biblical scholar, and retired pastor. I served local churches for nearly twenty years and then was a volunteer campus staff worker with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. I 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. (My study guide series was designed to be used with the Bible in that format.) I’ve written a book called After Chapters and Verses: Engaging the Bible in the Coming Generations to explain how we can use the Bible, without chapters and verses, for reading, studying, preaching, and teaching. I was one of the translators for The Voice Bible.
I majored in English at Harvard College, did a master’s degree in theological studies at Gordon-Conwell, and then a doctorate the history of Christian life and thought, with a minor concentration in Bible, at Boston College. I’ve published articles on the literary structures of biblical books in several journals. I’ve also written articles for online and print publications such as The High Calling of Our Daily Work and Bible Study Magazine.
I hope you enjoy this blog. If you have any questions about the Bible yourself, please use the “Ask a Question” link above to send them to me. (Also, the study guides are now available free in PDF form through this blog; you can use the “Free Study Guides” link at the top of this page to access them. If you have any questions about using the guides, or about what they say, feel free to ask those as well. That was, after all, how this blog got started.) The time it takes me to respond will depend on the volume of questions received. I also welcome comments on individual posts. Comments may be edited for length, tone, and content. Thanks!
13 thoughts on “About This Blog”
I like this blog, and put forward my thoughts for scrutiny.
The wise men find Mary in Bethlehem during her confinement
Mary goes up to Jerusalem for the purification ritual 6 weeks after the birth
The family flee to Egypt
Sometime later say 3 to 6 months Herod realises the wise men have double crossed him.
The weakness is that on this basis Joseph didn’t heed the warning from the wise men and it was not until his dream which happened maybe while they were at Jerusalem that they got the urgency. On this basi s the length of stay in Egypt not critical.
I have also read the argument for the birth at 1 BC as this coincides with a lunar eclipse. I don’t understand why the exact date Of death of Herod is not known to help establish the date of the birth of Jesus. This all said the date of the census seems pretty conclusive unless there was another 3 years later.
the wisemen never came to Bethlehem. If the wise men started their journey when the star came out then it would have taken them about two years to get to Bethlehem. That is why Herod said two years and younger were to be killed. Matthew 2:9-13. Jesus was already a young child not a baby.
What an amazing resource! Thank you.
Apologizes for not showing my gratefulness to you, after I came across an article about “Take no thought(s) for tomorrow.” Thank you one more time Christopher for sharing God’s wisdom with others. I have a good ‘feeling’ about you and I bookmarked you, with the intention to ‘make profit’ of your spiritual contributions. I live in Indonesia since I have been retired in 2002. And here I’m serving my (local) church with music support. In the Netherlands I had ever been appointed as a Bible teacher by the Holy Spirit who used a visiting preacher/pastor, during a church service, to prophesy on me God’s will to be a teacher. Although I had never really attended theological college or academical modules, when preparing lessons for my Sunday school pupils and the Bible circles in our church, God’s Spirit opened my eyes and gave me a lot of wisdom (hikmat in Indonesian) to be shared with the people I’m responsible for. B.t.w. I retired from the RNAF (air force). For that reason I could not fully enlarge my knowledge from the Bible than by reading(and studying lots of Christian educative books and books about counseling, since God also directed me in that part of ministry. SO, Iwas/am (still studying) an autodidact and personal student of the Holy Spirit.). Till so far bro. One more time thanks and be blessed abundantly Christopher.
Thank you so much for your words of appreciation and encouragement. May God continue to bless you in your ministry.
I just finished reading your take on how long Jesus was in Egypt.
Based on Leviticus 12 Jesus had to be circumcised on his eighth day of life Then because He is a male her days of purification were 33 days. Jesus is now 41 days old at the end of her purification.
Luke 2:22 thru 24. Now when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord. (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male who opens the womb shall be called holy to the lord”)
and to offer a sacrifice to the Lord, “A pair of turtle doves or two young pigeons”
Skip to verses 39 and 40.
So when t hey had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth..
And the Child grew and became strong in the spirit, Filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was with him.
So according to the Bible, Joseph, Mary and Jesus had left Bethlehem, gone to Egypt, returned to Jerusalem and then started on their journey to Nazareth by the time Jesus was 41 days old.
Hi mr Smith. I am not a trained scholar, i am writing a book on the ‘end-time’ i am writing to ask your permission to use a portion of one of your fine blogs i have never written a book before. I am a baptist .
please find below the portion i would like to use.if not all may be some if so could you please indicate how much. my kind regards Paul.
So which one is right? My conclusion, after years of research and reflection, is that they are all right. The kingdom of God is a complex entity that has historical, eschatological, and spiritual aspects. (Christopher R Smith
2013 What’s the difference between premillennialism, postmillennialism, and amillennialism?)
Please feel free to use all of this quotation. Thanks for your interest in this blog, and best wishes for your book.
Mr. Smith, my compliments to you for your dedicated research and Christian web contributions. Fascinating answers and humble dialogs!
Give honor to whom honor is due… keep writing. You’re awesome!
I just discovered your blog. It is very informative.
God bless you.
Pastor Charles Simmons Sr
I just chanced on this blog when googling a question. Am blessed by it. God Bless you.
So thankful to have stumbled on your blog! I am a lay student of the Bible, a wife and mother of three, and help lead women’s Bible studies at our church. I love learning about the Lord and all the richness his Word has for us. I look forward to reading through your blogs. Thank you for sharing what the Lord has taught you!