A science and an art

Reading the Bible is both a science and an art. By calling it a science, we mean that as a discipline it is rigorous and structured: there are certain principles to follow in order to understand the Bible correctly.

However we don’t want you to get the idea that understanding the Bible is an automatic and mechanical process – as though you just apply the tools and out pops the answer. It’s not like that.

Understanding the Bible is also an art. It is something you learn by doing, something you ‘catch’ as well as get taught, something intuitive as much as logical. That is why we have [used the term] ‘tools’ rather than ‘rules’ – like a master craftsman, you will need to exercise judgement and skill in the way you use them.

Bear the following points in mind:

  • You won’t need every tool for every passage you read.
  • Some tools will be crucial for some passages, others secondary.
  • Sometimes the tools will work only when used together, one tool enabling you to use another.

Rather like learning to ride a bike, after a while you forget the tools because the principles behind them have become second nature.

(Benyon & Sach, 2005:16-17)