A couple of years ago, I wanted to get more out of studying the Old Testament. I’d tried using the 7 Arrows study method, and that didn’t go very well for me. I was looking for free commentaries online at reformedbooksonline.com, and found this book of questions. I downloaded it and started using it. I found it made it easier to do my morning Bible studies using it, and feel that the questions lead to both good practical application, and a perspective on the Bible that is more ‘joined-up’ than I would otherwise have had. This latter point is possibly due to the author being a serious Hebrew scholar, who was professor of Hebrew (and oriental literature) at New York University.
The author, George Bush, causes no small number of questions to require answers. For starters, if one were to look at his Wikipedia article, one finds that he strayed pretty far from Biblical Christianity, getting into Swedenborgianism later in life. Swedenborgianism is related to Oneness Pentecostalism, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormonism. Examples of their erroneous doctrines include denial of the literal resurrection of the body when Christ returns, and denial of the Trinity, as they deny the eternally begotten nature of the Son. They also deny salvation by faith alone, joining it to works, called ‘charity’, which precede faith and can only be considered so if the motivation behind it is to do good without selfish motivation. It originates with Emanuel Swedenborg, who claimed to have visited Heaven and Hell to converse with angels and demons, and that The Last Judgement had happened in 1757 (he was the only one to notice). The Swedenborgian (or ‘New’) Church believes that he was correct in these things, and that at least some of his writings were inspired.
So, do we use these scripture questions? As far as I’m concerned, the answer is yes, and not just because I found these, used them, and liked them before I found out about the author of them. This work was written in 1829, 16 years before he embraced Swedenborgianism, and while he was employed as a Presbyterian missionary (he was actually ordained as a Presbyterian minister from Princeton). This gives me cause to believe that this work was within the bounds of orthodoxy. He went on to write a number of commentaries, of which apparently one was a plagiarism, but had excellent choice of source material, and the rest are recommended in Spurgeon’s ‘Commenting and Commentaries’, and it is noted there that they are untainted by his later beliefs, and there was usage of one as a source for Joseph Seiss’s lectures on The Gospel in Leviticus. Notably, some of the recommended works were published after he embraced Swedenborg, which reminds us that even those deceived in some things can write truth. On these grounds I recommend this work.
What have I done with it? I’ve used the bare pdf for my Bible Study for a couple of years, and have grown increasingly weary of the need to scroll through the pdf and find each chapter, a problem compounded by the fact that there is no way of telling which book of the Bible you’re in, beyond the tile at the start of the questions for each book, no table of contents or anything. So, when I started my Neocities page, and found myself in lockdown in 2021, wanting to serve the Church somehow, it came to hand, and I spent a lot of evenings drinking tea, copying the OCR text into a Markdown to HTML converter, doing corrections and formatting fixes, and indexing them all neatly on the Neocities site. I’ve dug into George Bush and written this introduction, and I plan to issue a PDF and Epub edition for free on the internet. I welcome any comments people have on the matter, any issues with the questions (are there heretical questions? Find one (in here) and tell me!), any useful updates in how the questions are written, or even just letting me know if you’ve found a use for them. So email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Spurgeon's Commenting and Commentaries. Pages 81, 89, 96, 97, 99, 101 and 124 cover Bush.
American Theological Review. Page 185 covers Bush
Appletons' cyclopædia of American biography. Bush is entered on page 474, this is the source for most of his Wikipedia article.