Effective Bible Teaching, 2nd Edition

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"This update is a much-needed and welcomed resource. It should be read widely and used to shape and deepen the teaching of the Bible in a variety of settings."-- Kevin E. Lawson, Talbot School of Theology, Biola University; editor, Christian Education Journal
Why does Bible study flourish in some churches and small groups and not in others? In this updated edition of a trusted classic, two Christian education specialists provide readers with the knowledge and methods needed to effectively communicate the message of the Bible. The book offers concrete guidance for mastering a biblical text, interpreting it, and applying its relevance to life. Its methods, which have been field-tested for twenty-five years, help pastors, teachers, and ministry students improve their classroom skills. Readers will learn how to develop the "big idea" of a passage and allow the text itself to suggest creative teaching methods. This new edition has been updated throughout and explores the changed landscape of Bible study over the past two decades. Readable and interdisciplinary in approach, this book will help a new generation of Bible students teach in a purposeful and unified way.

Part 1: Effective Teaching

1. The Changing Landscape of Bible Study
2. The Church's Unfinished Task
3. The Tasks of the Effective Teacher
4. The Teacher: The Human Element in Teaching
Part 2: The Methods of Effective Bible Teaching
5. Discovering Unity in Biblical Passages: The Genre and Structure of a Passage
6. Thematic Unity in Biblical Passages: Teaching the Big Idea
7. Bridging the Gap
8. Principles of Biblical Interpretation
9. Understanding the Methods of Inductive and Directed Bible Studies
10. Leading Inductive Bible Studies
Part 3: The Bible We Teach
11. What Kind of Book Is the Bible?
12. Types of Writing in the Bible
13. Teaching the Stories of the Bible
14. Teaching the Poetry of the Bible
15. Teaching Other Genres of the Bible


"For a quarter of a century, Wilhoit and Ryken's Effective Bible Teaching has been a great resource for helping lay Bible teachers better understand how to study and teach God's Word in order to foster increased understanding, spiritual growth, and wholehearted obedience. In light of evidence pointing at the limited impact of the Bible in the lives of those who claim to love and follow Christ today, this update is a much-needed and welcomed resource. It should be read widely and used to shape and deepen the teaching of the Bible in a variety of settings including small groups and Sunday schools."

Kevin E. Lawson, director of graduate programs in Christian education studies, Talbot School of Theology, Biola University; editor, Christian Education Journal

Praise for the First Edition

"From cover to cover, this book is packed full with bull's-eye analyses of what makes poor teaching and concrete action steps to successful teaching each time at bat. Watch out! This book will make 'The Yawner' an extinct species in your classroom."

Howard G. Hendricks, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Christian Education and Leadership, Dallas Theological Seminary

The Authors

  1. James C. Wilhoit

    James C. Wilhoit

    James C. Wilhoit (PhD, Northwestern University) is Professor Emeritus of Core Studies and Scripture Press Chair of Christian Formation and Ministry at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois, where he taught for over thirty years. He has authored numerous books,...

    Continue reading about James C. Wilhoit

  2. Leland Ryken

    Leland Ryken

    Leland Ryken (PhD, University of Oregon) is professor emeritus of English at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois, and the author or editor of nearly forty books, including Words of Delight: A Literary Introduction to the Bible.

    Continue reading about Leland Ryken


"The first chapter, 'The Changing Landscape of Bible Study' . . . alone makes the book worth its place on a shelf in the church library. . . . The chapters on biblical literature are helpful, especially because they are informed by a well-practiced sense of how to read a text--any text--slowly and, therefore, carefully."

Arie C. Leder,

Calvin Theological Journal

"Effective Bible Teaching has assisted Christian educators the world over in formulating and constructing sound educational techniques for studying and teaching the Bible in a variety of settings, and remains a staple in coursework on teaching the Bible and the educational ministry of the church in evangelical colleges and seminaries everywhere. . . . There is much to commend in Effective Bible Teaching--its sheer breadth and depth of articulating evangelical models of biblical interpretation, its emphasis on active, dynamic learning, its thorough analysis of the various literary genres located in the pages of Scripture, and its consistent challenge to those who take up the task of teaching the Bible in church. . . . Seminary graduates lacking the skill to successfully teach biblical texts to parishioners will especially benefit from this book."

Benjamin D. Espinoza,

Journal of Youth Ministry

Praise for the First Edition

"What a clever idea! Here is a book on Bible teaching combining the efforts of an outstanding Christian educator and a professor of English who has written several books on Bible study. . . . This book will find its way into many college and seminary classes as well as serving a strategic role in the hands of Sunday school teachers and Bible study leaders."

Kenneth O. Gangel,

Bibliotheca Sacra

"Wilhoit and Ryken have written in a lively style which is easy to read. . . . A very helpful work, and I think it likely that I shall refer to it in my own seminary teaching."

Donald E. Gowan,

Religious Education

"[This book] will help one become a more effective Bible teacher."

David P. Kuske,

Wisconsin Lutheran Quarterly

"A well-done overview of how to effectively teach Scripture."

Christian Schools International

"For those not experienced in teaching, this book should be a handbook to guide in this most important but often incompetently or irresponsibly performed task. . . . This book will bear more than one reading and could become an indispensable reference source for those who teach at all levels in the church."

Vox Reformata

"Worthy of the time and effort required to read it. . . . Effective Bible Teaching is not only profitable for teachers who desire to be better teachers, but is a useful tool in training new teachers. In fact the scope of this book is broad enough that pastors could also benefit from a study of it."

David Webb,

Christian Education Digest

"The writers each bring different strengths to the topic. . . . Their passion for excellence in Bible teaching is needed."

Krysia P. Lear,


"Recommended to all serious teachers of the Word."


"Offer[s] pastors, C.E. directors, Bible study leaders and Sunday school teachers practical advice on how to improve adult Bible studies. . . . Anyone who teaches the Bible can profit from the advice given in this fine book."

James G. Sigountos,

Alliance Life

"Every local church should be concerned about the important topic this book addresses. . . . This book is 'required' reading for every pastor who is serious about the local church's responsibility to be involved in effective Bible teaching. The layman who wants to improve his ability to teach God's Word will also benefit from this publication."

Patrick J. Casey,

Calvary Baptist Theological Journal