This article includes the following topics:

The Beautiful Bible

My hope in writing this is to ‘fan the flames’ – to further encourage a sense of enjoyment when reading the Bible. I look at the inspired Word from God as a piece of literary genius that is far beyond that which man can produce. I see it as a beautiful piece of work.

My approach is to present you with some Bible-oriented topics that are well-established but just beginning to be popularized. I find that by looking into any of these, the beauty of God's Word becomes even more apparent.

Bible Resources
I hope that you have been delving into the Bible. Depending on where you are in your study, Amazon offers these excellent resources which may prove helpful:
How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth, Gordon Fee, 2014.
How to Study Your Bible, Kay Arthur, 2010.
How to Enjoy the Bible, E. W. Bullinger, originally published in 1916.

Chiastic Structure

The study of chiasms in the Bible is becoming more widespread. In March 2009 when I first wrote the internet article What is a Chiasm?, very few people had heard about this. Perhaps you were one of them. Since then, more than 60,000 unique visitors from across the world have visited that one webpage.

I believe that the chiastic structure is one of the best examples of the Bible's intrinsic beauty. My guess is that there are perhaps thousands of chiasms in God's Word. Two questions I like to ask are, “Why do you think these verses are structured this way?” and “What effect does that emphasis have on you?”

Chiastic Structure Resources
See the Chiasm Bookstore for my compilation of books about the chiastic structure. Two of them are:
See also my articles:
What is a Chiasm?, Thomas B. Clarke, 2009, 2014.
Finding Chiastic Structures in the Bible, Thomas B. Clarke, 2014.

Other Literary Structures

Just as the study of chiastic structures opens a fresh understanding of the Scriptures, the expansion to other literary structures continues this joy. Two such devices are termed ‘parallel symmetry’ and ‘immediate repetition.’ With these and other structures we see more of the Scripture's beauty and ask ourselves, “How does that passage apply to me?”

The study of these various devices fall under the Biblical approach called ‘rhetorical analysis.’ Pursuing this approach should more clearly reveal the hand of God to you because His word becomes more personal.

While theologians have often emphasized other approaches to the Bible, I find this newer method to be refreshing and profound. You do not need to learn Greek or Hebrew although that is always good. You don't need an advanced degree in biblical studies. You simply need the desire to pursue.

Other Literary Structure Resources
Three Old Testament resources are:
See also my article:

Topical Studies

Unlike word studies, I find that topical studies develop a broader understanding of the Bible and reveal more of its hidden beauty. When people write, “What Does the Bible Say About …”, they are presenting a topical study. The subject may be money, loyalty, love, or one of many other areas.

Pastors often preach in a topical manner but it is much less common for lay people to study this way. The importance of topical study is found in the repetition of themes. The question to ask ourselves is, “Why is that repetition important to me?”

As author of a topical study on the book of Proverbs, may I suggest you peek at One Hundred Topics from Proverbs to help you decide your topic? By performing your own topical study, you will be challenged by the complexity but richly rewarded by the elegance of the Bible.

Topical Study Resources
It may be characteristic of my generation but when I begin a topical study of just one subject, I buy a paper notebook. There I record where I found it in the Bible, what it says, and any relevant comments. Potentially a word processor could serve that same purpose.

If you are tackling many subjects concurrently, my blog article How to Prepare a Topical Study of the Bible describes the computer process that I used for analyzing Proverbs.

Amazon offers a number of topical studies including:
The Greatest Words Ever Spoken, Steven Scott, 2008.
Nave's Topical Bible, Orville Nave, reprinted from 1896 version.

See also my article:
What Does Proverbs Say About Marriage?, Thomas B. Clarke, 2009.

Narrative Imagery

Narrative imagery, as opposed to poetic imagery, attempts to take stories about nature to point to Biblical principles. Imagery has long been used to help us understand Biblical truths – Jesus, for example, frequently spoke with metaphors. By encouraging the association of natural elements with topics in the Bible, we can begin to understand a deeper and richer meaning of that topic.

Narrative imagery takes what we can see to help us better understand what we cannot see. If we can vividly portray the travels of a salmon upstream, the protective cover of a mother bear, or the luscious fragrance from a springtime flower, we have some hope of letting the reader experience the comparative essence of the spiritual world. Narrative imagery is creating pictures that hopefully outlive the reading experience – it is similar to a photograph that long outlives the event.

Imagery has traditionally been the language of poetry:
  • Hymns and Christian choruses abound in similes (“Hearts unfold like flowers before thee”)
  • Psalms freely portray with metaphors (“He makes me lie down in green pastures”)
  • The Prophetic books painted with many figures of speech (“The trees of the field will clap their hands”)
While the use of imagery has been well-established, a few Christian non-fiction books have been published which use imagery to point to Biblical truths.

Narrative Imagery Resources
Philip Keller's Shepherd Trilogy books use his experience with sheep to explain that imagery in the Bible. Wayne Jacobsen wrote about his years in his father's vineyard to describe the metaphors of grapes. I used the imagery of beautiful perennial flowers to paint a picture of love – the type of love that is described in I John, often referred to as agape love.