Imagine walking into an Italian restaurant and learning that pizza was not on the menu. Aside from the understandable wails of grief and loss, how would you respond? You would be shocked! After all, for Americans, pizza seems foundational to an Italian menu. Many such restaurants are judged purely on the quality of their pies. A restaurant without pizza lacks something vital for the ongoing health of the business.
So it is with a Christian who does not study the Bible. Since Christians believe that the Bible is the word of God, nothing can be more important or foundational to the Christian life than understanding the Bible. The Bible is crucial for our understanding of God, ourselves, our world, and how we are to live. And yet, for all its importance, individual Bible study is not a widespread practice. Christians, when they do read the Bible, usually read briefly and lightly, perhaps more concerned with fulfilling their Christian duty than understanding and applying what God has said. Some Christians depend on pastors or authors to explain what the Bible really means and they feel unprepared or unable to face the text themselves.
Peter Krol wrote the book Knowable Word to help “ordinary people learn to study the Bible.” Whether you are a Christian who has read and studied the Bible for years or you are coming to the Bible for the first time, this book will provide just the assistance you need. Though I am familiar with the method Krol teaches, I learned and gained much from the book. This is not just for newbies. I highly recommend it.
At the heart of Knowable Word is the OIA (Observation, Interpretation, Application) method of Bible study. Though this method is known in other circles by other names, Krol makes a convincing argument for its value over and against more common ways people approach the Bible.
As Krol discusses the steps of the OIA method, he punctuates each explanation with an example. (He returns to Genesis 1:1–2:3 throughout.) The descriptions were thorough and the instructions were easy to grasp. I also appreciated the cautions Krol gives—what dangers might arise as you begin OIA? What might stand in your way of seeking the Lord at each phase? How can you avoid getting sidetracked?
The book is thoroughly practical. Krol has designed simple worksheets to help with each phase of Bible study; these appear throughout the book and are also available on the author’s website. I recommend printing them out and using them during the first few times that you study the Bible using OIA.
Though Krol models each step of Bible study for the reader, a shining strength of the book comes in the section on application. All along, Krol guides the reader to understand the main point of Genesis 1:1–2:3. When the time comes for application, Krol shows just how extensive and far-reaching our application of the Bible can and should be. Would you believe that several paragraphs in this section are concerned with home improvement projects?
The phrase that recurs in my mind when summarizing this book is “helpful tool.” An engaged reader will find here many aids not just for personal growth in Bible study but also for preparing to lead small groups. I plan to consult the book frequently when I teach an adult Sunday school on Bible study at my church in the fall.
I love that this book is self-consciously not an end in itself. Over and over again, Krol points us back to the Bible. If we only read his book and do not begin to implement his recommendations, we have not really read the book. I love how this book pushes me, equipped, with hope, to study the Bible with the express purpose of seeking and knowing God through Jesus Christ.
Disclosure #1: The author of this book, Peter Krol, is a good friend of mine. I have written for his blog before. Yet this review is an honest one, made without any coercion or consultation with the author.
Disclosure #2: The links to Amazon.com in this blog post are affiliate links, meaning that I get a small percentage of any purchase you make on Amazon if you make that purchase after clicking through one of these links.