Reviewed by Doug Smith
When I was a child, I had an unusual fixation with instruction manuals. I actually enjoyed reading about how to use a toy, game, or electronic device. There was just something about reading a description of how something was supposed to work, and figuring out how to understand the description, comparing it to what I was doing, and seeing if I could apply what I just read that I found satisfying, especially if I got a better result than what I had previously achieved.
I can’t think of any higher compliment about Knowable Word than that it is a good instruction manual that is enjoyable to read and easy to use. Three attributes that distinguish Peter Krol’s book from other books on hermeneutics, or how to interpret and study the Bible, are its brevity, clarity, and practicality.
Knowable Word is a brief, quick on-ramp into the world of Bible study. There are plenty of tomes on Biblical interpretation. There are books about an abundance of introductory matters about Bible study that never actually get one into the Bible study. Some of these books are hundreds of pages, but Krol’s is only 120. Its length makes it possible to read in a couple of hours. Reading it in a single sitting can help the reader more easily get the whole picture of what the author is saying, and get to work putting the book into practice.
Knowable Word is a clear book. Its clarity is achieved by its focused vision to present a method of Bible study that is faithful to Scripture, easy to remember, and easy to apply. The three step method? Observe. Interpret. Apply. Krol grounds this traditional “OIA” method in Scripture, showing how Jesus used this methodology to point out things to His hearers (Matt. 21:42-44). He also shows how it works in normal human communication, as we see something, consider its meaning, and then choose a response based on what we have seen and interpreted. Krol also gives an overarching vision of the Bible as a book that points us to Christ. He takes us to Luke 24 to show us how Jesus viewed Scripture as pointing to Himself, and challenges us to look for themes that relate to the suffering and death of the Messiah, the need for repentance and forgiveness of sin, and the proclamation of the good news to all nations (Luke 24:46-47).
Krol’s writing style is direct and straightforward. He does not get bogged down with a myriad of alternative views of scholarly theories, but focuses on explaining the OIA method in a simple manner.
The author primarily limits his examples of Bible study methods to Genesis 1, which he takes on its own terms, rather than importing ideas foreign to the text to shape his interpretation This approach remains consistent throughout the book. We do not have to constantly change gears to other types of literature as we are learning the method.
Krol gives clarity by way of contrast. He argues that familiarity is our biggest enemy to observing what Scripture actually says, since we are not as active to observe that which we believe we already know. Presuming that we understand something is an obstacle to discovering the right interpretation. The inertia in our lives makes it difficult to want to budge and dig into the hard work of application, which leads to change.
Knowable Word is a practical book. Krol quickly and clearly shows us how to put our Bible study into practice. He focuses both on our internal beliefs and character as well as our outward actions toward others. Examples from his own life, as he applies his study of Genesis 1 to his own aversion to home improvement projects, are illuminating and give good suggestions for us to think about when applying the Scripture. The book also provides exercises and access to printable worksheets for working through the phases of observation, interpretation, and application, with suggestions of the things we need to look for and consider.
Krol’s book is a great instruction manual for reading the Bible. It doesn’t go on forever, but gives you the basics so you can jump right in and start studying. It doesn’t over-complicate things, but is clear in its instruction. It’s practical, and you can immediately see the usefulness of the method Krol explains. Knowable Word is thorough and clear enough that you can read it once and remember its gist as you put its principles to work. Yet, it is a good reference to go back to when needing to remind yourself how you can dig deeper.
Knowable Word is a helpful resource that can introduce readers to basic Bible study methods they can learn “in five minutes” and master “over a lifetime,” as Krol states in chapter 1. I plan to use this book to help others of all ages learn how to study the Bible for themselves, in hopes that they will better know Jesus and pass this method on to others as well.
The book also has a website with resources here.
DISCLAIMER: I received a free eBook of this title from Cruciform Press in exchange for an honest review.