Thursday, November 8, 2012

More Reading

We're having some "special meetings" this weekend to cover some foundational doctrines. It wasn't my intention to do any actual speaking in them, merely to organize, facilitate, cook, etc. But I've ended up having two lectures, so I'm preparing for those. If you think of it, I'd really appreciate prayer for this weekend.

But I've got writer's block (speaker's block?) right at the moment, so I thought I'd blog a minute or two.

I've a friend who's read Darby's Synopsis cover-to-cover. Another friend has commented that Synopsis is one of his go-to resources for Bible study. Well, I've never been able to get into the Synopsis: every time I've opened it, I've found it doesn't really say anything that's not completely obvious. It's not much of a commentary. It's not that I'm not a fan of Johnny D., it's just that Synopsis hasn't ever really grabbed me.

But still, when two friends highly recommend a book, there might be something there.

So this last week I decided to give Synopsis another try, but this time I decided to start reading at the beginning rather than flipping it open to a given passage. I was wrong and I'm not ashamed to admit it. I completely missed the point of the book(s). Synopsis really is worthwhile reading, but I had to start at the beginning to get it.

I'm not going to try and review the book here, I've only read through the commentary on Genesis and the first ten or so chapters of Exodus: it's too early for a review. But I have to say I'm a convert.

Here's why: Synopsis isn't really a verse-by-verse commentary on the Bible, and if you think of it that way, you'll wonder why anyone actually published it. I did exactly that for years, and I always wondered why anyone bothered to read it. I was thinking of it as a commentary; it's not. It's an "Old and New Testament Survey" written into a set of books. It's like sitting in a Sunday School class taught by JND.

I told my dyed-in-the-wool Synopsis friend I had finally started reading it from the beginning. He was very polite and didn't point out I had been an idiot. But he concurred with my description of the set, and explained it this way: "If you want to know what Darby thought about John 4, you can't just read the chapter on John 4. You need to read the whole section on John." That's exactly what I'm realizing. Synopsis develops themes over whole books, and indeed over the whole Bible. You need to read it all to really get what Johnny's saying in context.

So I have several weeks of reading before me, but I have to say it's been really good reading so far. So all those times I referred to Synopsis as "Darby Lite", I was wrong. It's certainly the most approachable of Darby's writing, but it's not a lightweight read. I was just missing the point.


Scott said...

Praying for you this weekend, bro. Glad to hear you're a "convert!" And, I must agree with your observations about how to read Synopsis. Whenever I go there to look up a verse, I find myself going back to the beginning of his comments on the chapter, and then going back to the beginning of his comments on the entire book.

T. Kyle said...

After 35 years of joyful bible study i cant speak highly enough of the synopsis what a treasure of sculptural exposition if you want to get REAL help on understanding what scripture is really saying make this your first port of call the great unsung exposition of God's word! T.kyle northern Ireland

T. Kyle said...

After 35 years of joyful bible study i cant speak highly enough of the synopsis what an unfolding of the ways and word of God nothing in commentarys really comes close to this work, it stands unique, after all the books ive used i find myself coming blessedly back to darbys overview he sees and says infinitly more in a few sentences than others in volumes, darby, kelly, grant, stuart, Macintosh n coates the great commentators, scrap the modern reformed rubbish and get back to the bible and the men who honoured it as such