Using Bible Commentaries

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as a reference librarian at Northwestern one of the things I do is help students learn to use Bible commentaries your first chance to use one will probably happen when you take Christian story one once you figure out how helpful Bible commentaries are you’ll find them useful for other classes too so first what are they they’re resource books that help explain the Bible the history the people their culture and more Bible commentaries are written by religious scholars who’ve studied scripture and want to help students of the Bible like you understand it better second where are these commentaries located Bible commentaries are located on the first floor of the learning commons in the same area as other research books and materials they can’t be checked out but they can be used anywhere in the library simply leave them in a book drop when you’re done third how do you know which commentary to use there are a number of commentary sets arranged by the books of the Bible from the old testament to the new each set has a distinctive appearance whether it’s the color of the binding or the size of the volumes some sets have more volumes because each one covers one book of the Bible other sets are smaller because several books of the Bible are included in one volume pick a commentary volume that covers the passage you want to explore find the book and then the chapter and verse just like you would if you were looking something up in the Bible itself you’ll notice that some commentaries include the biblical text but not all of them do so it’s helpful to have a Bible ready while you’re researching finally what exactly will the commentary help you understand the commentary author and remember this person is a Bible scholar or expert will share his or her interpretation of the passage you’re studying the commentary will offer historical details about the characters geography and the audience for the original writing look for interpretations of the original Greek or Hebrew words and perhaps an explanation of a story’s plot and dialogue the commentary will also connect the passage you’re studying to other passages in the Bible it’s best to check several different commentaries when you’re doing research because some focus more on the theology and message of Bible passages and others focus more on the history and background your northwestern education will give you a lot of chances to explore the Bible thoroughly along with these commentaries your professors and peers will help you and so will I so see you in the reference section

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