Holy Spirit Interactive
Monday, December 11, 2017
Inside Holy Spirit Interactive

Direct Bible Discovery

Chapter 17 - The Procedure for Studying Books

Before explaining the procedure for studying the books of the Bible, something needs to be said about the danger of procedures without meaning.

Procedures Versus Meaning

As you glance through chapters 17 and 18 and see the detailed procedures, you might easily feel that DBD seems quite complex. However, You would be wise to follow these procedures precisely the way they are described. From the experience of this writer and of many others you can be assured that DBD works!

On the one hand, you are asked to try these procedures exactly as they are spelled out in these two chapters. Use chapter 17 on several books, and use chapter 18 on several topics. On the other hand, you will not want to be a slave to these exact procedures forever. Once you come to appreciate the basic DBD approach and have tried the procedures, you will be able to supplement them and modify them without losing the basic approach and the important principles on which the procedures are built. You will want to adjust the procedures to suit your own personality, abilities, and purposes in personal Bible study. Give DBD a try, but treat it for what it is -- a tool -- your servant and not your master.

It would be quite easy for you to work through all the procedures and still not study the Bible with understanding. It is possible for a person to engage in all of these procedures and merely go through the motions of Bible study with his mind disengaged. Always be alert and thinking. It is of greatest importance that you approach the Bible, not merely with mechanical gimmicks, but with the most basic approach of all: reading and studying for meaning.

If you approach the Bible with the goal of producing a neat outline, drawing a beautiful chart, finding hidden clues, or any other mechanical gimmick, you may be able to do all of those things, yet you may never really understand the passage you are working with. Furthermore, if you begin by looking for special answers or hidden clues, you may easily overlook the message that is right there in plain sight. Certainly the procedures just mentioned have a proper place, but such procedures must not be allowed to become ends in themselves. For instance, outlining is a legitimate procedure, but you have not necessarily determined the meaning of a passage merely because you have outlined the passage. Outlining is only a tool to aid you in finding the structure of a passage, and thus a hint of the meaning of the passage. But sometimes an outline can hide the meaning of a passage rather than reveal it.

Read and study for meaning. Step back and look at the purpose and significance of the entire passage instead of limiting yourself to a spider's view. Continually relate every detail you see to the main thrust or the central idea of the passage. Don't let the details keep you from seeing the explicit teachings of the passage. Don't cover up the meaning with insensitive, mechanical procedures. Bible study must operate in the realm of meaning and not merely in the realm of activity.

You will be better able to see the end from the beginning if you read through this entire chapter before you begin to put any of the procedure into operation.

The Procedure

The eight steps in the procedure for studying books of the Bible are:

  1. Pray
  2. Survey
  3. Divide
  4. Scrutinize
  5. Examine topics
  6. Synthesize
  7. Compare
  8. Apply

This procedure balances a focus on the details with a focus on the book as a whole. Bible study must involve a great deal of careful, objective, detailed observation. But examining details is only one side of the coin. You must also be able to see the large picture all at once. In other words, look at the book panoramically as well as microscopically. Using just one type of search gives an incomplete picture. Seeing the whole, on the one hand, and scrutinizing the details, on the other hand, are both necessary.

For instance, which person has a more complete view of a large forest preserve, the helicopter pilot or the hiker? Obviously the pilot sees some things the hiker does not, and the hiker sees some things the pilot does not. So neither person's view of the forest preserve is complete. However, the hiker can be helped a great deal by taking a ride in the helicopter before going on a hike. He will then be able to orient himself when he is on the ground. Each individual trail will be better appreciated as it is understood in relation to other trails and the entire forest preserve, and the hiker will be less likely to get lost. Likewise, with literature, you should survey an entire book before you engage in a detailed study of any particular section. Your understanding of each section will be enhanced as you are able to see its relation to the other sections and to the trends of thought and emphases of the whole book. What otherwise might become a confusing forest of details can become much more meaningful.

In the study of a Bible book, a third component as also needed. After the details of each section of the book have been thoroughly scrutinized, it is necessary to put all the parts back together again to review the whole. Thus, your pattern in Bible book study should include first a look at the whole, then the parts, then the whole again. The eight steps listed above are in keeping with this pattern since they include step 2 (the whole), steps 3, 4, and 5 (the parts), and step 6 (the whole again).

Step 1 - Pray

Pray. Does it really help? Before you pray you may want to think about some of the promises regarding God's Word, some of the promises regarding prayer, and some of the examples of prayer, such as

2 Timothy 3:15-17
Joshua 1:8
James 1:5
Matthew 7:7-11
John 14:13-14
Psalms 1:1-3; 19:7-11; 119:18, 27, 33-34, 73, 105-112, 124-125, 129-136, 144, 169-176
Continue to pray with each of the follow steps, every time you study your Bible. Pray each day before, during, and after you study. Ask for help in understanding, wisdom in application, etc.

Step 2 - Survey

Survey the whole book. During the first few times through the book read it swiftly, and read it in one sitting without interruption. Ignore the chapter and verse divisions. Read the book in several different translations. Sometimes read it silently, sometimes aloud. Do not look for any particular details during these first several readings. Instead read for overall message and general impact. Record these first general impressions in your notebook.

Then as you continue to read through the book, record the following in your notebook:

  1. Writer, place from which the book originated (locate on a map), and when the book was written (before or after what key historical events).
  2. Recipients, and place of destination (locate on a map).
  3. When the main events described in the book took place (before or after what key historical events).
  4. Occasion of writing (events or circumstances which prompted the writing of the book), purpose for the writing.
  5. Type of literature (historical narrative, letter, didactic, hortatory, poetic, apocalyptic, etc., or a combination of these), general style, tone (atmosphere or spirit), and other characteristics of the book. How did the writer feel when he wrote the book?
  6. Main thrust(s) (basic message, central theme, repeated emphases).
  7. Any major divisions which are obvious at this point.
Be sure to record all appropriate chapter and verse references in your notes.

When you find that one of the above items is not explicitly stated in the book, make a note of that fact. Then record any relevant observations (with references) on which you might base a conclusion regarding that item. Be sure to keep your observations and your interpretations separate in your thinking and to state your degree of certainty when you record your conclusions.

At this point you should study more about the background of the book. You will recall that a Bible passage should be interpreted in the light of its historical and cultural setting. Thus you will want to learn everything you can about the key historical and cultural items in the book. Such items include the key cities and countries and their inhabitants, other groups of people, historical events, and common cultural practices that are mentioned in the book. For example, if you are studying one of the letters in the New Testament, one of the items you should learn about is the city or region in which the recipients of the letter lived -- Rome, Corinth, Galatia, Ephesus, Philippi, Colosse, or Thessalonica. If you are studying one of the Old Testament prophets, you should find out all you can about the main cities or countries mentioned by the prophet.

Obviously, cities and countries should be located on a map, and you should find out as much as you can about the geographical settings which you think might help you understand the text better. Check the time period represented by the map to be sure that you are using a map which matches the general date of the events mentioned in the book.

Information about each of the key historical and cultural items should be researched in the following order. First, take note of everything that the book itself says about that item. Second, use your complete concordance to uncover all the other biblical references to that item, and thus find out everything that the rest of the Bible says about it. Third, research additional information which comes from secular history and archeology by looking up the item in a few Bible dictionaries or Bible encyclopedias. If, for instance, you are studying the Book of Philippians, you will immediately locate Philippi on a map of the first-century Mediterranean world or a map of Paul's missionary journeys. Then you should (1) take note of everything that the book of Philippians says about Philippi; (2) look up "Philippi" in your complete concordance to find out what other Bible passages (especially those in the book of Acts) say about Philippi; and finally (3) look up a few articles on the city of Philippi in some Bible dictionaries or Bible encyclopedias to see what additional historical and archeological findings might help you understand the city and its people. Whereas articles on the city of Philippi will probably focus on the geographical, historical, and civil aspects of the city, articles on the book of Philippians will be much more interpretive of the text, and you should keep that fact in mind if you decide to read them at this point in your study.

You should then follow the same threefold process in researching other key historical and cultural items found in the book you are studying.

Step 3 - Divide

Divide the book into major divisions. Do not force any preconceived types of divisions onto the book (such as "introduction, body, conclusion"). Do not look for a certain number of divisions. Instead, look for natural divisions. In other words, let the book divide itself.

Look for indications of division which are built right into the text, such as a transitional phrase or a summary statement, a change to a new subject, a change in the location of the action, a change of persons being discussed, a gap in the time sequence, or a change in the literary form. This does not mean that every such change indicates a new major division of the book, but you should notice all such changes as you attempt to find the divisions which fit the book in the most natural way. Also, look for divisions which have a definite relationship to the main thrust of the book and the purpose of the book. Then give each major division a short, descriptive title (perhaps four or five words) which will help you remember its content.

Subdivide the major divisions and give your subdivisions titles. Continue subdividing and giving titles until you are down to Immediate Context Units (ICUs). An ICU may sometimes be the same as a paragraph of the text, or it may include two or more very closely related paragraphs. Also, an ICU may begin within one paragraph and/or end within a different paragraph. The length of an ICU depends solely on how closely related the paragraphs or parts of paragraphs are to each other. A typical ICU may be approximately one half chapter in length, although many will be longer and many will be shorter. Again, your subdivisions and ICUs should be chosen according to the natural divisions found right in the text. It will help you find these natural divisions if you take careful note of both the grammatical structure of the text and the progression of thought running through the text. Titles for ICUs should be descriptive, brief (perhaps two or three words), and chosen specifically to bring the content of the ICU back to your mind. Do not give the same title to two ICUs.

Longer books may end up with major divisions, subdivisions, further subdivisions, and then ICU's. Shorter books may end up with only one major "division" and only a few ICU's.

Construct either a chart or a preliminary outline giving the titles and references for all of your major divisions, subdivisions, and ICUs. Your chart or outline will, of course, probably be revised several times during the rest of your study. A book which ends up with two major divisions, several subdivisions, and a few ICUs in most of the subdivisions could be charted somewhat like the samplechart below.

The Book of __________________________________________________
1:1-4 Title (Opening/greeting/introduction/etc.)
1:6-6,9
Title of major division
1:4-40 Title of sub division 1:4-15 Title of ICU
1:16-32 Title of ICU
1:33-40 Title of ICU
2:1-4:4 Title of sub division 2:1-3:7 Title of ICU
3:8-4:4 Title of ICU
4:5-23 Title of sub division 4:5-23 Title of ICU
(same as title of sub division since there is only one ICU
4:24-6:9 Title of sub division 4:24-37 Title of ICU
5:1-14 Title of ICU
5:15-38 Title of ICU
6:1-9 Title of ICU
6:10-11:31
Title of major division
6:10-9:31 Title of sub division 6:10-20 Title of ICU
6:21-7:2 Title of ICU
7:3-40 Title of ICU
8:1-9:5 Title of ICU
9:6-31 Title of ICU
9:32-11:31 Title of sub division 9:32-10:37 Title of ICU
11:1-16 Title of ICU
11:17-31 Title of ICU
11:32-35 Title (Close, etc.)


Although various types of charts could be used (vertical, horizontal, spiral, etc.), the important things for the chart to display are (1) the whole book at a glance; (2) the titles and references for each major division, subdivision, and ICU; and (3) the relative length of each division. A chart composed of closed rectangles gives the false impression that each division is an isolated unit. It is better to draw an open chart, as illustrated above, to display the fact that there is a flow of events or an idea developing throughout the book, and that no division should ever be thought of as separated from the others. After you have completed your outline or chart, note which subjects or events the author dwells on at length, and which subjects or events are treated as incidental. This will give you further hints as to the purpose and main thrust of the book.

Step 4 - Scrutinize

Scrutinize, analyze, and meditate on each ICU, attacking it from twelve different angles. Do not carry out any of these twelve operations hastily. Careful scrutiny, analysis, and meditation requires time and concentration. Examine. Reflect. Ponder. Be patient.

Each of these twelve operations requires a different mental process. It is important not only that each of the twelve operations be complete, but also that they be completed in the order in which they are listed. The twelve operations are:

  1. Read for meaning
  2. Respace the text
  3. Outline the ICU
  4. Note the function of this ICU
  5. Ask six standard questions
  6. Note grammatical details
  7. Identify relationships
  8. Alter the wording
  9. Paraphrase the ICU
  10. List the main teachings
  11. Condense the ICU
  12. Quiz, etc

As you carry out each of these twelve operations, be sure to write out all of your observations, interpretations, and questions in your notebook. (Review the four suggestions regarding making observations in chapter 8.)

To help keep your notes organized, you may want to put your observations on a form with columns like those shown below.

Reference ___________________ Title ___________________ Page _____
Translation __________________________________________ Date _____
Verses Observations Resultant Interpretation & Questions Practical Applications
Column
width
approx.
1.5
Column
width
approx.
3.5
Column
width
approx.
3.5
Column
width
approx.
1.75


Number your observations consecutively so that you can refer to them easily by number when you write out your interpretations. Not all observations will have corresponding interpretations. However, every interpretation must have at least one corresponding observation on which it is based. Whenever possible, write out your interpretation directly across from the observation(s) on which it is based. Whenever you write out a question, look again at the entire ICU to see if the answer is there. If not, list the several alternatives you feel might be good potential answers to the question.

1. Read for meaning

Begin making observations on the ICU simply by carefully reading the ICU for meaning. Read the ICU as a unit (as a whole, from beginning to end without stopping) many times. Then read it again as a unit several times in different translations. Each time you read it, try to read it as though it were your first time! Take time to meditate on the meaning and the main point of the ICU.

Many people have trouble concentrating on what they are reading. They forget the previous sentence while they are reading the present one. To overcome this lack of memory and concentration, develop the habit of holding a summary of the essence of the previous sentences consciously in your mind as you read each new sentence. In this way you can readily identify the development of the thought in each ICU. This takes hard mental work, but it is also very important if you are going to read for meaning.

Don't overlook the obvious teachings of the passage. If you begin your search by looking for hidden clues or minute details, you may miss what is right on the surface. The message that is in plain view is what you should see first.

Also, put yourself into the situation by trying to think as the writer, the original readers, and the persons mentioned in the text might have thought. Imagine that you are present to see and hear all that is done and said. Visualize each event and situation. Take part in the action and identify and empathize with each character in turn, thinking his thoughts and understanding his emotions. Again, however, beware of the temptation to get more out of the text than is actually there. Do not try to make striking observations.

Discover the one or two sentences which express the one central thought or main point of the ICU. Let the text give its own emphasis, its own main idea. It will be very tempting to impose your own emphasis on the text, depending on how you want to use the text and what point you want it to make. What point, however, did the writer intend to stress here? What is the built-in emphasis? Be especially sensitive to ideas which are repeated throughout the larger context. Write down the main point and then note the thought relationship of each sentence to that main point. Keep the entire ICU in mind as you scrutinize each part of it.

Then reread the passage as a whole.

2. Respace the text

Respace the text, clause by clause, phrase by phrase. You will find examples of respaced texts in Chapter 8. Do not change any of the words or punctuation when you respace the text. The only thing you should change is the spacing of the clauses and phrases. Respacing the text requires two basic mental operations which are at the heart of all meaningful reading. First you must identify the units of thought (clauses or phrases) in the text. Second, you must identify how each phrase or clause relates to the phrase or clause immediately before it and immediately after it. When you respace the text, you are merely spacing the thought units on the page according to the way they already relate to each other in the text.

Usually the main statements in the ICU should begin at the left margin, and the other phrases, clauses, and sentences should be indented appropriately. Many of the modifying phrases and clauses can begin under the word they modify. Sometimes modifying phrases located within a clause can be respaced above the clause to reveal the uninterrupted flow of thought in that clause. If there are several consecutive phrases which are parallel to each other in thought, space them immediately under each other in order to indicate that parallel relationship. If there is a clause which refers to or explains a certain word in an earlier clause, use a dotted or broken line to indicate that relationship.

You will be better able to spot the structure of each sentence if you take careful note of the connectives and conjunctions (and, but, for, when, therefore, if, because, after, although, since, so that, till, while, etc.). You may not be able to respace the text so as to indicate all of the relationships you see, but try to indicate the basic thought relationships and grammatical relationships which you find already there in the text.

Then you may want to underline the key words and clauses in your respaced ICU. Reread your respaced text as a whole for meaning. Use this respaced text throughout the rest of your study of this ICU.

Respacing the text is most helpful with didactic portions of Scripture, and may not always be necessary for long narrative portions. If this respacing is done thoughtfully and patiently, several of the following operations will be simplified. The outline will stand out for you. Further relationships will be more easily identified. And the condensation will be taken mainly from your underlined sentences.

3. Outline the ICU

Make a detailed outline of the thought progression (the argument) in the ICU. In order to be most informative, each point in your outline, especially the main points, should be a sentence or a long phrase, not merely a word or two. Get your outline from the sense of the text itself. Make your outline as descriptive and interpretive as possible. Avoid cute or alliterated outlines. You may need to experiment with several revised outlines before you feel you have the one which fits the text most naturally. After you have outlined the ICU, reread it as a whole for meaning.

See Partial Outline of Christine Doctrine in Chapter 15 for an illustration of a standard, traditional outlining system.

4. Note the function of this ICU

Note the function of this ICU by determining how this ICU relates to the larger context. Why is this ICU included? Why is it included where it is? Note the progression of thought or action in the larger context. Are there any new teachings or new elements in this ICU? How did this ICU function for the original readers? If you tend to think pictorially or graphically, try to diagram the relationships you find between this ICU and the larger context. Then reread the passage as a whole for meaning.

5. Ask six standard questions

Ask questions of the ICU. There are six standard questions with which you should begin:

  1. Who? Individuals? Groups? Person speaking? Persons spoken to? etc.
  2. When? Chronology? Sequence? What events have just happened? etc.
  3. Where? Geography? (Locate on a map.) Surroundings or setting? etc.
  4. What? Content? Issues? Actions? Events? Teachings? Problems? etc.
  5. How? Means? Methods? etc.
  6. Why? Motives? Purpose? Cause? Result? etc.
Then reread the passage as a whole for meaning.

6. Note grammatical details

Carefully note such details as:

  1. The parts of speech (nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, and interjections)
  2. Number (singular or plural)
  3. Tense (past perfect, past, present perfect, present, future perfect, future)
  4. Voice (active when the subject is acting, or passive when the subject is being acted upon)
  5. Mood (indicative when expressing a fact; subjunctive when expressing a possibility or wish; or imperative when expressing a command or request)
  6. Antecedents of pronouns
  7. Direct objects and indirect objects
Note the overall structural form. Note the particular literary techniques, figures of speech, and idioms, employed in this ICU. If you are able, make a grammatical diagram of the key sentences. Then reread the passage as a whole for meaning. (If you are not familiar with the above grammatical details, you should spend some time studying a book on English grammar.)

7. Identify relationships

Search out the internal and external relationships and connections and identify them accurately. Internal relationships are relationships between two or more items within this particular ICU. External relationships are relationships between items in this ICU and items in the larger context.

This operation is important for all portions of Scripture, but it is especially crucial for didactic portions. Reflect on each item (each fact, idea, event, etc.) in the ICU and think about how it relates to the rest of the items in the same sentence, in the same ICU, and outside the ICU. Then, when you describe in your notes what you have found, do not merely write that one item "is related to" another item. Instead, describe the actual relationship by identifying it as one of the relationships listed in the chart at the end of this section. (Do not be disturbed if you are not immediately able to sort out all of the types of relationships. Nor should you feel that you must memorize technical names for all of these types of relationships. However, the list at the end of this section should help you appreciate the fact that there are many types of relationships, and that being aware of the varied types of relationships can help you analyze a Bible passage more thoughtfully and more accurately.)

The point is: Don't just look for isolated facts, ideas, or events. Find the connections and relationships that are in the text, and describe them as accurately as you can. And do not be satisfied when you have found one or two relationships. Keep looking. After all, you cannot make inductive inferences unless you first find relationships. Many of the relational questions in the list below should be asked of the passage in order to identify and clarify the internal and external relationships found in the text.

Sometimes the relationships will be stated explicitly in the text. Other times they will be implicit. The more you ponder the passage, other questions will come to mind as they are stimulated by the events and ideas in the ICU. Pursue every question. Some of them will turn out to be very significant avenues of inquiry. The more questions you ask of the passage, the more answers you will discover. Cultivate your curiosity. Ask. Ask. Ask. Remember to write down all of you observations and interpretations in your notebook. If you tend to think pictorially or graphically, try to diagram the more significant relationships which you find. Then reread the passage as a whole for meaning.

Types of Relationships

One item (one fact, idea, event, etc.) in the text, which will be referred to by using the letter A, could be related to another item, which will be referred to by using the letter B, in a variety of ways. Here are some of the types of relationships that you may find as you examine the text.

Quantitative relationship.
Is A numerically greater than B? Does A occur more often that B? Does A have larger dimensions than B?

Spacial relationship.
How is A located in relation to B? How are A and B located in relation to C?

Chronological relationship (fixed events).
When did A occur? How many days or years separate A and B? What is the order of these fixed events?

Sequential relationship
(order of unfixed events; a set of steps, stages, or events that has a beginning and an end and does not necessarily repeat itself). Does A come before or after B? Is A first, fourth, etc. in the sequence? Is A part of a string of events leading to B?

Cyclical relationship
(a repeating set of steps, stages, forces, events, etc.). Do A and B recur in the same order repeatedly?

Reciprocating or vice versa relationship.
Do A and B occur alternately? Can A lead to B as well as B lead to A? Does A relate to B in the same way that B relates to A?

Cause-effect or parent-offspring relationship.
Does A bring about B? Is A the cause, or one of the causes, of B? Is A the result, or one of the results, of B? Beware of assuming that a chronological or sequential relationship is automatically a cause-effect relationship.

Agency or means-end relationship.
Is A the tool or agent that is used by B to accomplish C?

Comparative or contrastive relationship.
Are A and B identical? Similar? Overlapping? Different? Mutually exclusive? Opposites? Is A positive while B is negative? These relationships can be analyzed by listing the characteristics of A and B in two side-by-side columns and then attempting to match up the characteristics of A with the characteristics of B.

Supportive relationship.
Is A part of the evidence that supports the proposition B? Is A one of the reasons why B is true?

Inclusive (or the opposite: exclusive) relationship.
Does A (the whole) include B (the part)? Does A exclude B?

Prerequisite relationship.
Must A be true before B can logically be true? Must A take place before B can take place? Is A necessary for B?

Inferential relationship (If A, then B).
If A is true, then B will be true. A is sufficient for B.

Value relationship.
Is A more important than B. Is A greater than B?

Authority relationship.
Does A have authority over B? Is B required to submit to A?

Attributional relationship.
Is A one of the attributes, characteristics, or qualities of B? Is A one of the ways in which B functions?

Illustrative relationship.
Is A an example or illustration of B? Is A "applied" to (or explained in terms of) B so as to clarify A?

Evaluative relationship.
Does A give the worth, or describe the value, of B?

Problem-solution or question-answer relationship.
Is A the problem to which B is the solution? Is A the question that is answered by B?

Principle-application relationship.
Is A the moral principle while B describes the practical application of A?

Secondary or sibling relationship.
Are A and B parts of the same whole? Results of the same cause? Are A and B related to each other only because they are primarily related to C?

Unrelated.
Are A and B completely independent of each other? Totally irrelevant to each other?

Of course, the types of relationships listed above often overlap. You may often find that A and B are related to each other in more than one way.

8. Alter the wording

Alter the wording of the text. Try reading each sentence omitting one word or phrase, then the next, etc., in order to see the contribution which each word of phrase makes to the meaning of the sentence. Do the same with each paragraph, omitting each sentence in turn. Also, it will help you appreciate what the text actually says if you think about what the text could have said but did not. In order to do this, temporarily change each word and each phrase and thus consider a wide variety of substitutions in the text. Try making changes in the grammatical forms of the words (refer to the grammatical details listed in operation 6), as well as changes in the actual words, substituting words which are at times opposite in meaning, and at times close in meaning, to the words which are in the text.

Do not misunderstand the intent of this operation. You are not trying to find wording which makes better sense. If that were your goal, then you would actually be revising the Bible according to your own wisdom. The intent of this operation is not to alter the wording and then leave it in its altered state. The intent is to temporarily alter the wording so that the significance and impact of the "original" wording can be better understood and appreciated. Then reread the passage as a whole for meaning.

If you find that the interpretation of the ICU hinges on the precise meaning of one particular word in the ICU, you may need to do a word study at this point. See Chapter 18 for additional thoughts related to word studies.

9. Paraphrase the ICU

Paraphrase the ICU in your own words. Rewrite the entire passage, sentence by sentence. Do not merely look at one word at a time and then substitute a synonym. That can be done with very little thought about the meaning in the ICU. Instead, look at each sentence and think about its meaning in light of the entire ICU. Then substitute another sentence which is made up of mostly different words but which means exactly the same thing. Then reread the passage as a whole for meaning.

10. List the main teachings

List the main teachings which are stated explicitly or implicitly in the ICU. An explicit teaching is one that is stated clearly and directly in the text. Explicit teaching are very easy to list. However, be very careful when listing implicit teachings. Implicit teaching include (1) ideas which must be assumed in order for the explicit statements in the passage to make sense, or (2) ideas which can be inferred from the explicit statements in the passage. For example, Genesis 1:1 dies not explicitly state that God exists. Nevertheless, that verse cannot make sense unless it is assumed that God does in fact exist. Thus, the idea that God exists would be an implicit teaching of Genesis 1:1. The idea that God created the heavens and the earth would be an explicit teaching of Genesis 1:1.

Then reread the passage as a whole for meaning.

11. Condense the ICU

Write a condensation of the ICU. Boil down the essence of the text into a summary which is approximately one fifth as long as the ICU. Be sure to include all the essential events and ideas contained in the ICU, only in abbreviated form. Then reread the passage as a whole for meaning.

12. Quiz, etc.

Write a quiz based on this ICU made up of true-false, fill-in-the-blank, and short-answer questions. Or, if the ICU is a narrative, write a brief report (a front page article or a magazine special) describing the events and the people involved. Or, draw a picture of the setting. Or, write a diary entry with records the events and feelings from one or several individuals' points of view. Then reread the passage as a whole for meaning.

When you have completed all of the operations with this ICU, do the same with the next ICU, etc.

Occasionally review your titles for the major divisions, subdivisions, and ICUs so that you can keep an overview of the entire book fresh in your mind.

Step 5 - Examine Topics

Study topics throughout the book. For example, what does the book say about the Scriptures, God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, Satan, man, sin, faith, salvation, righteous living, the church, the future, etc.? You may also want to choose topics about which you have written interesting observations or questions. Also study key words used repeatedly in the book, especially words which you suspect might be used in a special technical sense. Along with regular topics and key words, you might find it interesting to trace various categories of statements, such as commands, warnings, etc. through the book. Be sure to note to whom these are addressed, conditions placed on the promises, etc.

As you examine everything that the book has to say on whatever topics and key words you choose, you will not want to be content merely to tabulate all the statements. Also ponder them, relate them, and summarize them. Be sure to study each topic in light of (1) how it relates to the main thrust of the book, and (2) how each mention of the topic relates to the ICU in which it is found.

More specific procedures for studying a topic throughout the entire Bible are spelled out in Chapter 18.

Step 6 - Synthesize

Put all the parts together (all the ICU's subdivisions, and topics). Relate all the parts to each other. Integrate all the parts into a meaningful whole. As you do so, you may need to revise some of you initial survey findings, your major divisions, etc.

Combine your titles and think through the entire book. You may even want to memorize your main titles. Combine your outlines of each ICU so that you have a complete outline of the book. Also combine your condensations of each ICU so that you have a running summary of the whole book.

Read the entire book. Write a brief capsule (three or four sentences) which expresses the heart of the book.

Step 7 - Compare

Up to this point you should have used interpretive aids sparingly. Now, however, you should compare your understanding of the book with the understandings of others by using a variety of interpretive aids. When you find differences of interpretation, carefully examine the reasons they give for their interpretations. Then reexamine the reasons for your own interpretation. Remember that the Bible book itself is your final appeal. Any "debate" should drive you back to the Bible.

Also compare your findings with what you have already discovered in your study of other Bible books and topics. Relate and integrate.

Step 8 - Apply

Put the teachings you have discovered to use in your life. Of course, any applications which can be made before this step are commended, provided you are certain you have the proper interpretation before you make the application. Go back and read through all the practical applications you thought of while you were writing out your observations and interpretations. Some of the principles may find direct application in your life. In other cases you may have to discern the general spiritual principle underlying the various specific statements and situations, so that the principle can be transferred to your circumstances. Consider all the possibilities. Are there some passage you should memorize, some commands you should obey, some examples to follow, some promises to claim, some errors to avoid, some attitudes to adopt?

Finally, do not neglect to share your findings with others.

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