Desert Island Bible Study

by Sharon Ely Pearson

When the classic question in a conversation “What book would you bring to a desert island?” is asked, the Bible seems to be the number one answer. The BBC Radio 4 show, Desert Isalnd Discs, assumes the Bible is a given, asking guests what additional book would be packed by a castaway.

When we are intentionally involved in bible study we have often have other sources readily at hand – a dictionary, concordance, a commentary, sidebars and footnotes within the actual study bible version we may be using. But what if you had just the bible itself? How could you read this collection of 66 books without all those outside helps?

This is where Brooke Packard has stepped in by creating the Desert Island Bible Study. A simple e-book edition (free on Kindle for a few more days, thereafter $2.99), it approaches Bible study as an invitation to be in relationship with God, to have a conversation. We begin with our personal knowledge and grow into faithful knowledge and action.

Who might this type of bible study be designed for? Someone who

  • wants to get in the habit of reading the Bible regularly
  • yearns to have Scripture speak to them
  • wants to feel confident and empowered in understanding the Bible
  • is convinced everyone is a theologian
  • wants to trust and employ the God-given gifts of imagination, wisdom, and creativity
  • wants to discover from the inside-out the wisdom, solace, and practical applications the Biblical narratives offer

The bulk of this outline for study includes a variety of techniques that the reader can use to personally delve into Scripture. Having paper, pens and pencils on hand as well as other art supplies might also be enticing. Since we are so used to speaking so fast in our world today, all the means for biblical study offered here involve slowing down and listening. These include the use of lectio divina, developing your own paraphrase, responsive writing, the “T.R.I.P. Acronym” process of simple questions, sensory study, character exploration, reading as a journalist, word mapping, prayer, and study questions such as those used my Martin Luther or the Jewish tradition. Each of these are explained so the reader can choose which one (or more) might resonate with their own personality.

An additional bibliography of on-line resources for connecting to Bible translations, daily lectionary readings, prayer practices, and other Bible Study methods for downloading are included.

So if you feel isolated and want to practice Bible study on your own, or have a small group that choose to study Scripture without a “trained scholar” to “give” you the answers, The Desert Island Bible Study may be want you are looking for to start your new year off getting closer to God’s Word!

Where would you begin with your bible on a desert island?

Brook Packard developed this scripture study process with the first Desert Island Bible Study group at Christ the Redeemer Episcopal Church, Pelham, New York. Also a musician and actress, she has sung as a soloist and section leader in traditional church choirs and has also been music director for 9 Alpha Courses; Grace Church, NYC Sundays at 6; Stanwich Congregational Church; Taizé Lenten liturgies; Kairos Outside; the Christian Formation conference on Faith Formation at the Kanuga Conference Center in NC; and assisted in providing music resources for national and international conferences for chaplains serving The Episcopal Church.

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