A Review of Dig Deeper: Tools for Understanding God’s Word

Any responsibly-shepherded new believer will, early on, be given a short (and very important) priority list.

  1. Get involved in a good church.
  2. Cultivate a vibrant prayer life.
  3. Begin studying the Scripture.

While the young Christian may benefit from some direction on the first point, fellowship with brothers and sisters is self-explanatory.  Priority #2 is also fairly basic.  In fact, I have clear memories of the pure, simple prayers of spiritual infancy.  No real coaching needed there.  But priority #3 (Studying the Scriptures) is considerably more complex; the careful, reverent interpretation of God’s Word requires help.  Englishmen Nigel Beynon and Andrew Sach have provided Christians of all maturity levels a valuable resource in this important task.  Having just completed their book, Dig Deeper:  Tools for Understanding God’s Word, I can recommend it unreservedly.

The authors begin with the important premise that the Bible actually means something and it can be understood.  Those assumptions may seem rudimentary, but as skepticism continues to rise regarding our ability to draw clear, firm direction from the Scriptures, this is a worthy emphasis.  The book introduces 16 “tools” of interpretation.  Each chapter provides an explanation of the tool along with several examples of this tool on display.  (Fully half the book’s content is actual Bible study material.)  They also provide opportunities for the reader to “test drive” the method in various texts of Scripture.  Helpful, I thought.

The tools are:

  1. The Author’s Purpose Tool
  2. The Context Tool
  3. The Structure Tool
  4. The Linking Words Tool
  5. The Parallels Tool
  6. The Narrarator’s Comment Tool
  7. The Vocabulary Tool
  8. The Translations Tool
  9. The Tone and Feel Tool
  10. The Repetition Tool
  11. The Quotation/Allusion Tool
  12. The Genre Tool
  13. The Copycat Tool
  14. The Bible Timeline Tool
  15. The “Who Am I?” Tool
  16. The “So What?” Tool
Here’s a suggestion:  the reader would benefit, I think, from writing this list, along with the authors’ brief explanations for each, in the flyleaf of the Bible you use for study.  After reading the book, the titles alone are enough to trigger the guiding principle that they point to.  My 5  favorite chapters covered purpose, context, genre, tone and feel and linking words.  The charts in the Bible Timeline chapter were also helpful.

Of this book’s strengths, three stand out.

  • Comprehensiveness.
  • Brevity
  • Accessibility

Writing a book on Bible Interpretation is an ambitious undertaking.  I was pleasantly surprised that Beynon and Sach were able to cover such a topic so thoroughly in a book of 158 pages.  The reason, however, that I expect the book to find wide use is its accessibility.  The writing style is winsome and light (even humorous) without being irreverent.  The authors have taken a topic that could easily become mind-numbingly academic and made it delightful!  I came away from my reading with a desire to study God’s Word; this, I’m sure, would please the authors.