Saturday, April 4, 2009

John & Acts: Life Application Bible Studies

Some time ago I received for review two of the Bible studies in Tyndale's Life Application Bible Studies series. Now I've finally had a chance to look at the one for Acts and the one on the Gospel of John enough to have a few things to say about them.tyndale john study

First of all, I should point out that they live up to their name as a study primarily devoted to application of the text to the life of the reader. In other words, they don't really fit with the academic approach that I usually take on this blog because the series is more theological and devotional.

In terms of format, the first half of the book contains the full NLT text of the biblical book with the articles and notes of the Life Application Study Bible. This is a nice feature because everyone doing the study (if you were to use it in say a Sunday School class or small group Bible study) can have the exact same text in front of them. It's also an affordable way to introduce people to the NLT.

tyndale acts study The book introductions and the notes contain a basic but adequate coverage of issues that might come up when reading John or Acts. For more in-depth treatment of background issues, I recommend using them alongside the NLT Study Bible. I will say, however, that this study's application-oriented approach did enrich my understanding of a few verses by offering in the note a way of thinking about the verse that wouldn't have occurred to me otherwise.

The second half of the study consists of 13 Lessons. Each lesson is divided into 5 segments: Reflect on your life, Read the passage, Realize the principle, Respond to the message, and Resolve to take action. I found the questions difficult to answer, probably because I spend most of my time reading the Bible academically and answering a completely different set of questions about the text.  For a church group, however, they've proven to stimulate discussion and reflection in a positive way. I think that is, after all, the point of the series.

For that reason, I would recommend this series of Bible studies for anyone looking for a good application-oriented Bible study for a Sunday School or group Bible study. The questions and notes are widely accessible to most lay people and encourage them to talk about the Bible in thoughtful way.

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