Living By The Book – A Book Review

Living By The Book – A Book Review

Posted on November 18, 2018 by admin

Two years ago I was in a Bible reading rut. I would read a passage of Scripture and not understand its meaning.

While we were ‘snow birds’ in Florida we went shopping at an outlet mall in Saint Augustine. As was our normal procedure the wife, and I split up to do our individual shopping.

I finished before she did and I went to the food court to read. I noticed four men at a table and they each had a Bible open along with another book. They were in deep discussion.

I picked the table close by so I could eves drop on their conversation. They were discussing a book on how to study the Bible.

When they were preparing to leave, I asked them about what the book they were discussing. It was “Living By The Book” by Howard and William Hendricks.

They explained what the book was about and even gave me a copy.
To make a long story short. I spent the next three weeks with my nose in the book reading and finding it difficult to put the book down.

Howard G. Hendricks the primary author of the book “Living by the Book” was a longtime professor at Dallas Theological Seminary for over fifty years, teaching “Bible Exposition and Hermeneutics” to the freshman.

Hendricks was a keynote speaker for many events for Promise Keepers, authored sixteen books and served as chaplain for the Dallas Cowboys football team 1976-84.
The book, “Living By The Book”, teaches readers how to use the OIA Bible study method to organize his/her questions and thoughts. OIA stands for Observation, Interpretation and Application.

Hendricks begins by explaining why people do not study the Bible using (real people) as examples of the reasons that are often used for not studying the Bible, don’t have time, not relevant, I’m only a layman and other examples.

Then Hendricks explains the reasons for studying the Bible, essential to growth, essential to spiritual maturity and essential to spiritual effectiveness.
The Bible is the Word of God, when the Bible speaks, God speaks.
To begin a study of Scripture, I would suggest you have an inexpensive notebook handy to record your findings in each step of the OIA study method.

Now choose a passage of Scripture to study and go through the steps of Observation, Interpretation and Application.


Here you want to ask the questions Who? When? What? How? Where?

  • Who is the author of the text?
  • Who were the original recipients of the message?
  • When was the text written?
  • What is happening in the passage?
  • Are there words repeated in the passage? What are they?
  • How do the recipients and the author feel?
  • Where is the event(s) taking place?
  • Are there contrasting thoughts within the passage?
  • What literary style is this passage?

I find it helpful to have a highlighter handy to mark in my Bible the keywords, words or concepts repeated in the passage.


In the interpretation step you seek to discover what the passage meant to the original audience.

Compare the Scripture with the preceding verses and the verses following. Do they expand a similar idea or expand the meaning of the passage?

Cross-reference to other Scripture to find what God has to say about the ideas expressed in the passage.

Consult using other Bible versions, commentaries, concordances and Bible dictionary to find added thoughts about the passage.

Consider that the culture at the time Scripture was written differed from today. Do words spoken or action, not make sense in today’s world, but made sense in the author’s time of the Scripture? Consider reading the passage in another version of the Bible.


Hendricks asks nine questions about the application.

Not all of these questions will have an answer in every passage.

  • Is there an example for me to follow?
  • Is there a sin to avoid?
  • Is there a promise to claim?
  • Is there a prayer to repeat?
  • Is there a command to follow?
  • Is there a condition to be met?
  • Is there a verse or verses to memorize?
  • Is there an error to mark?
  • Is there a challenge to face?

Now you can unfold Scripture so you understand what it says, what it means for you and what it means to others.

Now when you question the passage in Scripture, you have to tools to gain the understanding of God’s Word.

(Disclosure: I am a member of the Amazon affiliate program. If you purchase from Amazon after clicking on one of the above Amazon links, I will earn a very small percentage of qualifying purchases.)

I hope you found this information useful and please do leave a comment below if you have your own opinion or have questions..

Have a great week and be successful.


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