I recently received this request: "Help me find understanding in the [weekly Christian Science Bible Lesson], as when I read it I feel confused. People will say to me, 'Oh, wasn't that a wonderful lesson on happiness?' or something, and I can barely remember what it was about. If I read it 4 times I still don't get it... I feel stupid."
RESPONSE: Nah, you aren't stupid. Like anything, Bible study takes practice and tools can help. When I first attempted a regular study routine, I didn't think I got much out of what I read either. But actually, good stuff was getting in (and coming out in my life) without my realizing it. The discipline of sticking with it, even when it was difficult, helped me became more familiar with the layout of the Bible. And although I, too, often couldn't pinpoint an overriding theme from the Lesson, certain passages did tend to stick with me or pop back into thought when I needed them.
But to begin to really enjoy the study, I tried different things that helped me find more substantial meaning. I learned off the bat that it's not important what the lesson may mean to others. It's important that it mean something to me. If your Bible study is in a rut or if you are having difficulty staying focused, you might try one or more of these ideas which helped me to perk up my study life.
Mark the books
I frequently receive questions from readers of this blog concerning Bible study. How do you keep your study fresh and alive? Feel free to share in your comment below.
A rich man took a piece of paper and wrote his last wishes:
I LEAVE MY GOODS TO MY SISTER NOT TO MY NEPHEW NEVER WILL BE PAID THE BILL OF THE TAILOR NOTHING TO THE POOR
But he passed on before he applied any punctuation to his letter. Who did he leave his fortune to?
His nephew decided on the following punctuation:
I LEAVE MY GOODS TO MY SISTER? NOT! TO MY NEPHEW. NEVER WILL BE PAID THE BILL OF THE TAILOR. NOTHING TO THE POOR.
But the sister disagreed. She punctuated the note like this:
I LEAVE MY GOODS TO MY SISTER, NOT TO MY NEPHEW. NEVER WILL BE PAID THE BILL OF THE TAILOR. NOTHING TO THE POOR.
The tailor asked to see the original note. He punctuated it like this:
I LEAVE MY GOODS TO MY SISTER? NOT! TO MY NEPHEW? NEVER! WILL BE PAID THE BILL OF THE TAILOR. NOTHING TO THE POOR.
Last of all, the town council entered the discussion of the note. They proposed their version:
I LEAVE MY GOODS TO MY SISTER? NOT! TO MY NEPHEW? NEVER! WILL BE PAID THE BILL OF THE TAILOR? NOTHING. TO THE POOR!!!
Click photo to find source. The Biblia Hebraica Blog.
Punctuation, clearly makes a big difference. Ancient Hebrew, the original language from which Old Testament texts are translated, had no punctuation to indicate the beginning or ending of an idea, phrase or sentence. It also had no past tense. Translators, using their best judgment, added punctuation, time tenses, and even words, to bring out the ideas as clearly as they understood them.
Give it a try, yourself.
Taking out time references and the added words not present in the original, how would you punctuate Genesis 1:1,2 to bring out your best understanding of creation?
GOD CREATES THE HEAVEN AND THE EARTH AND THE EARTH IS WITHOUT FORM AND VOID AND DARKNESS UPON THE FACE OF THE DEEP AND THE SPIRIT OF GOD MOVES UPON THE FACE OF THE WATERS
"The decisions by vote of Church Councils as to what should and should not be considered Holy Writ; the manifest mistakes in the ancient versions; the thirty thousand different readings in the Old Testament, and the three hundred thousand in the New, — these facts show how a mortal and material sense stole into the divine record, with its own hue darkening to some extent the inspired pages. But mistakes could neither wholly obscure the divine Science of the Scriptures seen from Genesis to Revelation, mar the demonstration of Jesus, nor annul the healing by the prophets, who foresaw that 'the stone which the builders rejected' would become 'the head of the corner.'"
MARY BAKER EDDY, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, 139
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I have practiced Christian Science professionally in
some form since 1979.
But my journey with
Christian Science started
in a Sunday school
where as a young child
I was taught the Scriptures and some simple basics
of Jesus' method of
scientific Christian healing.
A significant experience
at the age of twelve
opened my eyes to
the great potential
of this practice.
After impaling my foot
on a nail,
I prayed the way I had learned
in Sunday school.
the pain stopped
and healing began.
By the next morning the wound had disappeared completely.
the great potential
of Christian Science,
there would be no