What the Bible Teaches?
A Thorough and Comprehensive Study of what the Bible has to Say Concerning the Great Doctrines of which it Treats
By R.A Torrey
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When you attempt to answer a question like, what does the Bible teach? There are many directions you can go in. We can look at the Bible as a teacher of history, a book of instructions, or a book of revelations.
“What the Bible Teaches” is a book written by R.A. Torrey in 1898. This book represents years of study by Mr. Torrey and seeks to answer the question, what the Bible teaches. However, it is not to be supposed for a minute that it sums up all the Bible has to tell. It doesn’t even begin to explore the myriad of topics addressed in that inexhaustible book we call the Bible.
Torrey’s book is simply an attempt at a careful, unbiased, systematic, thorough-going, inductive study and statement of Bible truth. The method of the book is rigidly inductive. The material contained in the Bible is brought together, carefully scrutinized, and then what is seen to be contained in it stated in the most exact terms possible. Exactness of statement is first aimed at in every instance, then clearness of statement. Beauty and impressiveness must always yield to precision and clearness. The scripture from which a pro position is deduced is always given before the proposition. The methods of modern science are applied to Bible study thorough analysis followed by careful synthesis. Though no Hebrew nor Greek words appear in the work, it is based upon a careful study of the original text as decided by the best textual critics (especially Tischendorf and Westcott and Hort in the New Testament, though other editors, and the manuscripts themselves, have been considered in some in stances).
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Wherever possible the text of the Authorized Version (aka King James Version 1611) has been given. In many instances this was impossible, as the Revised Version (aka English Revised Version) is manifestly much more exact. Had it appeared that the Revised Version would soon obtain that general acceptance and use which it seems to so richly deserve, the author would have adopted it through out; except in those rare instances where it is manifestly in error. In very few instances, indeed, has it been necessary to adopt renderings differing from both the Authorized Version and the Revised Version, and from the American Appendix to the Revised Version.
Some propositions in this book may appear new and even startling to many, but Torrey believed that they fairly and exactly stated the contents of the passages upon which they are based. R. A. Torrey wanted his book to be interesting and helpful, both to those who believe in the Divine origin of the Bible and to those who do not. He believed that one of the most satisfactory ways of determining whether the Bible is of Divine origin is by finding out precisely what it teaches and whether there is one deep philosophy running through the book composed by such a multiplicity and variety of human authors. Torrey says that his own conviction that there was one Author in back of these many writers, and that one Author was the Creator of the heavens and earth, deepened considerably as he studied the Bible.
Torrey suggests numerous ways in which we can use this book with profit. Noting that its most apparent use is as a class book in Bible Theology, its arrangement by sections and propositions having had such use in mind. The book can also be used in family devotions by those who desire something more orderly, systematic and comprehensive than the methods employed in this important, but neglected, department of religious culture. He also believes that it may be helpful in private devotional study of the Bible. While the book aims to be scientific, it is not cold. Too much devotional study of the Bible is haphazard. By the use of this book, it can be made orderly, thorough and progressive.
Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.
Torrey received many letters from groups of believers where there were no churches, and from other groups in various churches, asking for a definite outline of Bible study, and trusts that this book may be helpful in many such cases. Why, for example, could not groups of Christians who are shut out from ordinary church privileges gather together and study the Bible itself with the help of this book?
Study to shew thyself approved unto Elohim, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
In all study of the book the scriptures given should first be pondered carefully; the reader should then put his own understanding of the contents of those scriptures, in respect of the subject in hand, into his own language before considering the authors statement in the proposition. In many instances the reader will thus be able to improve upon the author’s statement; if not, he will understand it and appreciate it all the more for having done a little thinking for himself.
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Reuben Archer Torrey
R. A. Torrey was born on January 28, 1856 in Hoboken, New Jersey and died in his Ashville, North Carolina home on October 26, 1928, at 72. He graduated from Yale University in 1875 and from Yale Divinity School in 1878. After he graduating from Yale Divinity School, he became a Congregational minister in Garrettsville, Ohio. He wed Clara Smith in 1879, and had 5 children through this union.
In 1882-83, Torrey returned to his studies in theology at Leipzig University and Erlangen University. In 1889, he moved to Chicago and joined Dwight L. Moody in his evangelistic work, and afterward was named director of the Bible Institute of the Chicago Evangelization Society (now Moody Bible Institute). He became pastor of the Chicago Avenue Church (now the Moody Church) in 1894.
In 1902–03, he ministered in all sectors of the English-speaking world. He, along with song leader Charles McCallon Alexander, conducted revival services in Great Britain from 1903 to 1905. He also visited Australia, China, India and Japan, during this time. In 1906-07, he conducted a similar campaign in American and Canadian cities. In his lifetime, Torrey preached throughout the world and wrote over 40 books. He held his last evangelistic meeting in Florida in 1927, additional meetings being canceled because of his failing health.