Methods of Bible Study

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by John of Japan, Oct 1, 2012.

  1. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    Some things have been said recently on the BB about deep Bible study. It doesn't matter who said them or what the subject was; this thread is not about that. It just got me thinking.

    My favorite class in six years (for a 4 year degree :laugh:) of Bible college was "Methods of Bible Study," which was a beginning course in hermeneutics. And the teacher was Dr. Wisdom! How great is that!!

    Anyway, I'm wondering what methods of studying the Bible you enjoy? There are of course many methods out there. Maybe we can edify each other.

    Personally, I think my favorite method is the word study. In the old days I had to use a concordance for this (Young's was great), but modern Bible software is a huge help in this. I can go interlinear in my PowerBible, click on the original language word and then do a search of any or all of the Bible. I'll often save that list in my word processor and then move verses around into groups with the same meaning. For example, with the NT word for church (ekklesia), you could have lists for local church, non local church usages, and possible usages for the universal church (depending on what you believe about that). I then check my original language lexicons for a better understanding. Vines Expository Dictionary is often good for this, too, though it is old, so sometimes out of date.

    This method gives me an idea of how a word may be used all throughout the Bible: whether it always means the same thing, whether different Bible authors used the word differently, whether one writer used it with more than one meaning, etc.

    So, what is your favorite method of Bible study?
     
  2. saturneptune

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    I like word study, in a verse by verse manner, and, as one is going through verses, to cross reference the verses, at the same time keeping them in context. That is my favorite.

    There are two methods I do not care for. One is picking out a theme and going all over the Bible to stick to one theme. Another concept I do not care for is "read the Bible in a year" type programs. That seems to focus the person on getting through it more than the content of the verses.

    Good thread.

    You forgot to ask which method Calvin would have liked. LOL
     
  3. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    That sounds like an excellent, deep method.
    I think the theme method can be done wrong, but I've had blessings from doing a speed read of the entire Bible, marking every mention of a certain subject: the Holy Spirit, prayer, etc. I then can put the doctrine together in a rather complete way.
    You mean it would have been different fro method of old Arminius? :laugh:
     
  4. mont974x4

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    Reading method does not equal study method.

    My morning devotional time is not a time for study. It is time for reading, listening, prayer, and establishes what verse or concept I will pray about/meditate on for the day. It will likely spawn a study session.

    Study:
    I use the inductive method. Reading through a passage I will identify and mark key words (people, places, concepts). Then it is on to define those key words. I sue eSword. It comes with Strong's and several free Bible translations and other tools. It also has several that you can purchase. I have the Complete Word Study Dictionary OT and NT downloaded. I can search by the English word and by the original Hebrew or Greek word.

    How I organize those thoughts in a Word document depends on what I am studying for. If I am preparing a sermon it will look a lot different if I am just studying an issue for myself with the intent of saving the document to share with others later.
     
  5. awaken

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    If we really want to understand what God says about any doctrine, then we should go through the entire New Testament to find as many of the "puzzle pieces" as possible which relate to that doctrine. Then we need to study them, pray about them, and ask God to help us fit them all together properly. If we have never gone through this process for any Christian doctrines, then maybe we don't have an accurate understanding of those doctrines. Therefore, some of our Christian views might be completely wrong!

    If we pick any topic in the Bible, there are Scripture passages scattered throughout the Old or New Testaments which teach us something about that topic.

    Consider that nobody is perfect, and nobody has perfect beliefs. This means that somewhere along the way we picked up some beliefs that are just plain wrong, and some of our ideas about God and Christianity are wrong. This is true for all of us, because none of us will ever be perfect this side of heaven. But that's kind of an unsettling thought, isn't it? After all, if it's pretty much guaranteed that some of our Christian views are wrong, then how do we know which views are wrong?

    If we honestly want to discover the truth, then it's helpful to start with a clean slate by pretending that we don't know anything about the topic that we're studying. This will help us look beyond our preconceived biases and "filters." It's important to be as prayerful, honest, thorough, and objective as possible, and it's important to be willing to believe whichever view has the greatest weight of evidence in Scripture.

    Word searches...Greek understanding..etc. all will shed light on the meaning of scriptures. But letting scripture interpret scripture is the best for me!
     
  6. Deacon

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    Computers have taken the fun of the chase away from 'word studies' but opened up 'phrase studies'. I do word and phrase studies most often.

    The method I enjoy the most is outlining - I use a number of different forms.
    Sometimes the modern outline form, other times they take a chiastic form.

    Rob
     
  7. Van

    Van
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    If we made a list of actually different methods, the "decide what you want to say, then look up verses that support it, is the least on my list.

    I have no problem with a topical study, like how is this word used biblically?

    As far as considering a paragraph or passage, I ask three questions:

    1) What was the author trying to say to his audience. So a little study of the area, culture and history is helpful.

    2) What if any timeless principles that are true no matter the audience, i.e. even today, are presented or implied by the passage. So a little study of what other passages say concerning the principles discerned is needed to avoid generating paradoxical views.

    3) What is God telling me to cause my character to grow and become more Christ-like. So avoidance of the "L" shaped amen is essential, none of that "teach it God, the other guys on the BB need to hear it."

    BTW, I second Rob's appreciation of phrase studies in addition to word studies, i.e son of God, before the foundation of the world, faith of Jesus/faith in Jesus.
     
  8. mont974x4

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    Phrases are certainly in the same camp as word studies. They are often one word in the original language. In any case I consider phrase studies and word studies to be one and the same.
     
  9. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    Hi, Rob. I love outlining, too.

    Please share with us the difference between the modern form and the chiastic form.
     
  10. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    Lots of good stuff here. Thanks everyone! :thumbsup:

    mont974x4 mentioned eSword, which I use some. It's free, and there are a lot of great downloads for it, even including a Japanese Bible. If you don't have it yet, here is the link: http://www.e-sword.net/
     
  11. Yeshua1

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    Like to read thru entire book several times, than look for main phrases/words/doctrines , and try to look up their meanings in lexicons, and use software to find out their usuage in that book, by that author throughout the NT!

    have you tried the Word software? or Bible Org as neat online softwrae!
     
  12. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    This approach is similar to what is called discourse analysis in lingistics. I'll write about that next.

    Haven't tried The Word. How good is it?
     
  13. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    A linguistic tool that is gaining ground in exegesis is called discourse analysis. Here is a definition: "Effectively of any analysis of a discourse" (Oxford Concise Dictionary of Linguistics, P. H. Matthews, p. 107). Pretty vague, right? The tool was originated by linguist Zelig Harris in the 1950's, but nowadays it is used for a bunch of different methods. If you're interested, a technical book on this usage in hermeneutics is Linguistics and New Testament Interpretation (subtitle, Essays on Discourse Analysis), ed. by David Alan Black. Another book has several chapters on it: Linguistics and Biblical Interpretation, by Peter Cotterell and Max Turner.

    In Bible study it would work mostly like Yeshua1 said. I would read the discourse (the Gospel of Mark, or the Sermon on the Mount, etc.) a number of times. I would look for key words and phrases, themes, unusual usages of a particular word, etc. So in a discourse analysis of Mark I would note how often he used "immediately" and "son of man." I would think about why he used certain parables and not others. I would note what was common in his grammar. I would pay attention to how he did quotes and so forth.

    When I was done, hopefully I would have a better sense of Mark the man, and what God wanted me to know from his Gospel.
     
  14. Yeshua1

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    Important to combine the word studies with as you say the proper contex/grammar /sentance construction, as if isolated by themselves, weird meanings have been giving to just the words and their meanings!

    i was taught in school the "periscoping" technique, where we pick an author, read a book, pick key words/phrases he used in that book, than expand that out to other books he wrote, than to the NT, than out to entire bible!

    The Word softward is similiar to Esword, its just that the writer of it got permission to use additional original languages tools to use in his program!
     
  15. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    Word studies have been abused, as some linguists have pointed out.

    Sounds like an interesting method. I've never heard of it being done quite this way.
    Thanks. I'll check it out.
     
  16. John of Japan

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    Translation is an excellent method of Bible study, believe it or not. I've learned so much from translating the NT into Japanese from Greek, and also occasionally from Greek into English. You have to carefully determine grammar and the meaning of words that it makes you think deeply about the text.

    This is also true if you translate from, say, English into Spanish or some other language. If you know any other language, give it a try!
     
  17. Yeshua1

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    easy way to do periscoping in the Bible is to say take say the word believe in Gospel of John, looking up all references to it, and looking up word meanings in each refernce, than do John 1/2/3, and finally look in Revelation!
     
  18. Deacon

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    Chiatic Outline

    Here's example of a chiastic outline from Gordon Wenham's article, The Coherence of the Flood Narrative. [Vetus Testamentum, Volume 28, Issue 3, January 1978, pages 336 – 348 ... online @ http://www.scotthahn.com/download/attachment/3402

    Chiasm's are found throughout the OT and occasionally in the NT.
    They help us determine the author's main point or the theme of the story.

    I used this one last evening in our group study of Genesis.
    Rob
     
    #18 Deacon, Oct 4, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 4, 2012
  19. John of Japan

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    This is a neat method. Thanks for sharing it.
     
  20. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    Very cool, Rob. I had not heard of this one. Hopefully this old dog can learn a new trick.
     

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