We have now dealt with the four primary methods of Bible Study-the Synthetic, the Parallel, the Topical, and the Typical. In a sense it may be said that there are these four methods of Bible Study and these four only, for the remaining three methods are concerned with the use of books of reference of three different kinds. In these three books of reference, the knowledge gained by the application of the foregoing methods is gathered up and placed together in such a form as to be available for immediate use in reference to any particular topic, any single word, or any consecutive portion of Scripture in the study of which the Bible reader is occupied.
The remaining three methods of Bible Study are therefore secondary and subsidiary, and are intended to facilitate the use of the first four methods by rendering available the results of the labours and researches of other investigators and students of the Word.
The cyclopaedic method of Bible Study by Bible dictionary is closely allied to the topical method of Bible Study by topics. The microscopic method of Bible Study by concordance is closely allied to the parallell method of Bible Study by marginal references. The explanatory method of Bible Study by commentary gathers up the results of all previous study and research, and arranges it in order, consecutively, book by book, chapter by chapter, and verse by verse, from Genesis to Revelation, under the text which the comment is designed to explain.
The cyclopaedic method of Bible Study by Bible dictionary consists in the exhaustive study of all the proper names and all the principal, topics of Holy Scripture. Every good Bible dictionary contains an article on every place and every person, on every book and every doctrine dealt with in the Bible. The cyclopaedic method embraces the study of nouns or names, of the great substantives, persons, places, and things mentioned in the Bible.
The writer always recommends Fausset's " Critical and Expository Bible Cyclopaedia." It is one of the best as well as one of the cheapest. It was formerly published by Hodder & Stoughton.. It is a large book well worth the original price.
The idea of the Bible dictionary is to bring together in a single article all that is known about some one person, place, or thing mentioned in Scripture ; and since we know, in most cases, very little more than what is told us in Scripture itself about these persons, places, and things, .a Bible dictionary is practically a collection of all that is contained in the Bible put together under the various headings of the particular subjects treated of, these being arranged in alphabetical order.
A glance at the titles of the articles in Fausset's " Bible Cyclopaedia " will enable us to classify all the more important contributions under a little over a dozen headings.
1. Persons, e.g. Abraham.
2. Places, e.g. Hebron.
3. Animals, e.g. adder.
4. Vegetables, e.g. almond tree.
5. Minerals, e.g. amethyst.
6. Peculiar words, e.g. anathema.
7. Peculiar things, e.g. habergeon.
8. Arts, e.g. agriculture.
9. Institutions, e.g. Passover.
10. Doctrines, e.g. atonement.
11. Practices, e.g. baptism.
12. Customs, e.g. calf-worship.
13. Books of the Bible, e.g. Genesis.
14. Archaeological articles, e.g. Egypt.
15. Theological articles, e.g. Holy Ghost.
The trend of Fausset is toward a reasonable, scholarly, evangelical interpretation of the Scriptures, and against modem rationalistic tendencies, the errors of which are frequently exposed. All branches of study, including natural history, classic literature, and modern discoveries, are laid under contribution, as far as they help to elucidate the meaning of the Word of God.
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