Monday, April 4, 2011

7 Tips For Bible Study

 Interested in getting more out of your Bible study time? Here are a few quick tips for studying your Bible and getting more out of it. There are at least 4 phases to this process: Observation, Interpretation, Evaluation,  and Application. I'm only going to talk about the first one today.

Tip 1: Get a solid literal translation such as the NASB, RSV, or ESV (or better yet learn the original languages...but this will take time).

Tip 2: Chapters and verses are not an inspired part of the text. They were added later to help us find stuff. So when you are studying, don't necessarily cut off your section at the chapter mark. Read to make sure you are including everything in the thought flow. Some markers to help with this are: change of location, change of topic, major shift of emphasis, etc.

Tip 2.5: To help with determining the boundaries, it is helpful to survey the whole book (if you have time). Break the book in the main units and sub-units. Sound not so fun? It is little difficult to learn to do this well, but it is great for learning the overall importance and flow of a book.

Tip 3: List all of the paragraphs in the section you are studying and come up with a brief 3-7 word title for each. Try to make them memorable and reflective of observations for the paragraph rather than interpretive.

Tip 4: See if you can lump any of these paragraphs into larger units, then give these a brief descriptive title.

Tip 5: Look for word or concept recurrences. These can be very useful. (Note: If you are working with a translation, sometimes the translator will translate the same Hebrew or Greek word a few different ways, depending on the nuances they are trying to highlight. The best way of finding all the occurrences of a word in your passage is with a concordance that indicates what the original word is.) Don't look for recurrences of common words like "the" or "an", as these will probably not shed a lot of insight into your interpretation.

Tip 6: Note structural relationships. Some of these can be tricky to learn (I will do a more in depth treatment on these at a later time) but the common ones can be quite easy to spot. I will emphasize 4 here.
Contrast: differences that are emphasized by the author. Key words to look for: But, however.
Comparison:  the association of things in which the likeness is emphasized. Key words: Like, As.
Causation: Something that moves from cause to effect. Key words: Therefore, Consequently.
Substantiation: Something that moves from the effect to the cause. Key words: For, Because, Since

Tip 7: For each observation you make, ask three types of questions. Definitional: What? (What is the meaning of this relationship? What are all the factors that play into it? Etc) How? (How does this causation advance Paul's argument in this passage? Etc.) Rational: Why? (Why does the psalmist contrast righteous and the wicked in this particular way? Etc). Implicational: This is really an interpretive question, so it is best to keep it simple--"Implications?"

These 7 tips are merely the start to better observation. The longer you spend in observation, the less time you will have to spend in interpretation, or the following steps.

No comments:

Post a Comment