Bible study can become a little difficult just because the differences in how we think. Think about the geographic area in which you live today and how people will communicate differently in a different geographical area not too far from you. In America, the southern portion of the country communicate differently than the north east portion, which is also different from the west. Even within our closer communities, we communicate differently. When looking at the caucasian, African American, Asian, and Mexican communities, we all communicate differently. It doesn't matter if we are all speaking the same language, words, thoughts, slangs, etc are communicated differently and this can lead to difficulties.

My co-worker is from the backwoods of Georgia and I'm from the north east. We have communication breakdowns almost weekly due to different ways of communicating. We understand each other most of the time but we have different views of definitions of different words, different slang words, and such that can cause minor issues in understanding.

If northerners and southerners can have issues communicating and understanding each other we must understand that there's a huge breakdown in communication between twenty-first-century America (or any other country) and pre-Messiah and first-century Israel. The Bible communicates in an ancient Jewish way of communication. We must understand the way they communicated so we can better understand what we are reading. The Bible is not just a book full of data and information, the Bible is a book full of pictures. This is foreign to most people in the Western world but less difficult in the Eastern world. We must understand the Bible is a Jewish book written by Jewish authors and directed to mainly Jewish listeners in an ancient Jewish world.

This is like when I traveled to Utah, USA with my friend and co-worker. My wife and I and my friend and his wife, took a trip to Utah. My wife and I had been before but my friend had not. I tried to explain some differences to him but he had difficulty understanding. In twenty-first century America, it's hard to find businesses that are not open on Sundays; and in the east, most types of businesses can be reached within about a 10-15 minute drive. On our trip, my friend lost a mirror off his motorhome after he'd traveled just a little west of Amarillo, TX on a Sunday morning. I was talking to him on the phone and explained that he will not find a place to buy a mirror for about 250 miles and he did not believe me. It was when arriving in Albuquerque, NM (about 5 hours later) that he started to grab some of the concept of what I was trying to communicate with him about the west.

Even with this, my friend was introduced to a whole new world. Construction is different in the deserts of Utah than in Georgia. The communication is different, the food, how people cool their homes, people's view of how to treat the earth, etc are all different than in Georgia. This is what we need to remember when studying the Bible; things are different than what we know.

Let's look at some differences between the view of the Western world versus the view of the Jews when understanding Scriptures. Again, we must view Scripture through the Jewish lens.

The Westerner has an abstract way of viewing the world while the Jew wants to experience the world. This different view of the world moves over to the Bible, how it's written, and how it should be studied.

The Western thinker use WORDS to express truth and we use definitions. Westerners use lists, bullet points, and such things to communicate truth and this website is an example of that. Jews use words to communicate through picture. They don't necessarily use words based on their definitions but rather to communicate through poetry to paint a picture for the listener. Think about book of Revelation. Revelation is difficult to the Western listener because we communicate analytically while the Jewish speaker is speaking with metaphors and pictures. Think about the picture of Y'shua in Revelation with seven eyes.

The Westerner looks at NUMBERS as quantity only but Jews see numbers as quality and symbolism on top of quantity. This has been partially communicated to the Western church but we still fail to grab the concept. The Jews will use numbers within text beyond the example of Y'shua having seven eyes. In Genesis 1, the first verse has seven words (Hebrew), the second has 14 words, and the third verse 21 words. The author purposely used denominations of seven in these verses to communicate something. Unfortunately, the Westerner misses these uses due to translation from Hebrew to their language.

The Westerner looks at ETERNAL LIFE as something detached from this world. For example, eternal life, to the Westerner, is a future tense concept. The Jewish person looks at eternal life starting in this world, now. Eternal life is a quality of life beyond a quantity of life. It's a life lived in harmony with God, a kind of life that is eternal now and will be eternal after this life is over.

Westerners have a struggle viewing things in the aspect of COMMUNITY because we view things in a very self-centered way. We view Y'shua as dying for my sins, praise songs are about my personal experience, sin affects only me. The Jew views everything as a community. Jewish people don't see sin as affecting only the person committing the sin but rather how it affects the community. We see examples of this in story of Achan (Josh 7) and we see it in a warning to the church of Corinth (Corinthians 5).

Westerners view SIN as something that is within us that must be removed from us but to the Jews SIN is viewed as what a person does. This is why the Bible focus' on sin that is in the world (not us) and gives commands to "stop sinning". The Westerner reads these, and because of our analytical thinking, we are forced to make up excuses of what the text is trying to say instead of understanding the truth in the text itself.

Westerners try to prove the existence of GOD because we are scientifically based and definition driven, while the Bible does not. The Bible, and Jews, assume the existence of God rather than trying to prove Him. Westerners try to figure Who this God is, what does He look like, how does He act or respond, while the Jews focus on the nature of the relationship.

Westerners look at FAITH is intellectual; it's about creeds, doctrines, and belief statements. We want to proof text to support our beliefs. It's obvious as we always see proof texts to support what we believe to be true. The Jewish people see FAITH as relational. It's experiences with God. Rather than trying to explain HOW it happened they will explain what they experienced.

To the Westerner, TRUTH is rational and scientific. In Bible study we focus on how it was done. TRUTH is static and unchanging; it's absolute. If we ever find out that "truth is wrong" we have to redefine it. To the Jew, TRUTH is experiential. The focus is not how it was done but what was done and who did it. To the Jew, TRUTH is dynamic, it's unfolding over time. This doesn't mean truth is relative. It means TRUTH is rooted in something, it never moves, but we learn more and more about the truth. Until recently, Judaism has managed to keep on conversation over centuries of time without splintering but from the beginning in the Western, or Greek world, whenever someone disagrees, we have to start a new movement, write a new creed, adjust the belief statement, because of our view of TRUTH. There's no room to grow within the rooted TRUTH.

Westerners see LEARNING as something that is taught. We go through text and tell people what to believe and why they need to believe it. The Jewish people see LEARNING as discovery. Rather than telling you what to believe, they paint a picture to be discovered. This is why the story line in the different
Gospels may be arranged differently. Each author was painting a picture to allow the reader to discover something about God and Y'shua.

Understanding these concepts of how the Jewish person views the world, thinks, and communicates, we are going to approach Bible study like a TREASURE MAP. When you look at a treasure map, it's not direct, bullet point, list, of instructions on where the treasure is. A treasure map has lines and clues. We must slow down and closely look at what the map is showing us so that we don't miss a clue that leads to that treasure.