The Most Important Thing You’ll Ever Read, Part 3 | Observation, Part 2

July 4, 2011

In the course of writing this series on how I study my Bible, everything I thought I knew about Bible study has been flipped on its head.  My world has been twisted upside down when it comes to the purpose of the Bible and what the Lord wants us to gain from it.  I have taken the last week to think through what I now believe about Bible Study and thankfully the two posts (Why Study the Bible? and Observation, Part 1) that I have already posted need little change.  Go ahead and check them out to see the changes I did make, though.  Also, expect for me to continue to update Why Study the Bible? even more as I continue in this series.  Please bear with me as I attempt to re-work my own method while teaching it to you.

Okay, the polls are in.  My explanation of “structure” (you know, all that sentence diagramming and outlining) was . . . less than helpful.  I’m sorry!!!  I only have a DEGREE in teaching . . . you’d think I could explain it better than that!  Well, for now ignore “Structure,” unless of course you were one of the few who understood what I was talking about.  I’ll take a second shot at explaining it in a few months.

You can still benefit from this method, though!  Last time we completed the first half of observing the text (pay attention to the “who?, what?, when?, and where?”) and today we’re going to finish up the Observation phase of our Bible study. (At the end of this post there will be some free printables that you can use to help you organize your thoughts during your own Bible study!)  Remember that the whole point of observing the text is finding out: What does it say?

A reminder:

so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.

Titus 2:4-5

There are 12 parts to Observation.  Today we will be going over the last seven.  All 12 parts usually take up one day of Bible Study for me: 

6. Atmosphere/Literary Form

What is the mood, tone, or feel of the passage?  Is this passage an exposition (an argument or explanation), a narrative or biography (a story), a parable, poetry, a proverb or wisdom literature, prophecy or apocalyptic (like the prophets and Revelation)?  You can use technical, English-major description words, but because this whole process is for your study and your understanding, just describe the atmosphere and literary form in your own words.

What atmosphere and literary form(s) do you see in our text?

so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.

  • Informative
  • Exhortation (a command)
  • Encouraging
  • A letter (of instruction and exhortation)

This process of finding the atmosphere and literary form is more important that it may seem.  For instance, if we were studying Song of Solomon, it would be important to know that that book is poetic, that it’s metaphoric, etc.

7. Terms

What significant words need to be defined using an English Dictionary?

so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.

  • sensible: having, using, or showing good sense or sound judgment; cognizant; keenly aware.
  • pure: free from anything of a different, inferior, or contaminating kind; free from extraneous matter; free from moral taint or defilement.
  • dishonored: lack or loss of honor; disgraceful or dishonest character or conduct; disgrace; ignominy; shame; to deprive of honor; disgrace; bring reproach or shame on.

8. Things that are Emphasized

The Bible uses many ways to emphasize different topics or concepts.  How much space does the author take up in writing about this one topic?  Does the author just come right out and tell you that a certain topic is important?  What’s the order of things–what is first? Last?  Are some things paired with others?  Does the author move from lesser things to greater things, or vice versa?  In a list, what is first?  Last?

so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.

  • “Love their husbands” comes first.  THEN “love their children.”  THEN characteristics (“sensible, pure”) AND THEN “workers at home”

9. Things that are Repeated

Look for terms, phrases, clauses, characters, incidents, circumstances, and patterns that are repeated.

so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.

  • There’s nothing repeated in these two verses, but when looking at the passage as a whole “being sensible” is something that older men, young women, AND young men are to be.

10. Things that are Related

Look for movement from the general to the specific, questions and answers, and cause and effect relationships.

so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.

  • “so that the word of God will not be dishonored” is the effect if the young women do not do the above (the cause)

11. Things that are Alike and Unlike

Look for similes (comparing two things using “like” or “as”) and metaphors (comparing two things without using “like” or “as”).

so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.

  • I don’t see any comparison here.

12. Things that are True to Life

This is more difficult than any other part of observing the text.  In some cases, though, it’s the most important.  Finding things that are true to life bridges the gap between Observation and Interpretation.  What does this passage tell you about reality?  What aspects of the text resonate with your experience?  Our culture is very different from the culture in which the Bible was originally written.  Very few of us will court our future husband by lying at his feet while he sleeps (see the book of Ruth), but the principles are active.  The Bible was written for us!  it just takes a bit of study to see the parallels between that culture and our own.  We feel the same emotions, we have the same questions, struggles, problems, and temptations.  As you read your Bible ask what the person you’re reading about’s ambitions were, his goals, the problems he faced, his feelings, what was his response, etc?  Make sure you don’t read your own thoughts into the text, though.  If it’s not obvious a person felt a certain way, don’t just assume they did because you might in their circumstance!

so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.

  • Clearly Paul expected young women to struggle with loving their husbands and children.
  • He thought they would struggle with being sensible, pure, and kind
  • He expected they would need encouragement to be workers at home and in being subject to their own husbands
  • He thought the older women would be able to encourage the younger to be all these things (discipleship)

And so there we are.  We have observed the text and we are ready to move on to Interpretation.  It may seem right now that most of the work we just did was a waste, but if we don’t dive in and just spent some time looking at the text without trying to interpret it, we run the risk of mis-interpreting it.  Also, the more time spent observing the text, the less time is spent in interpreting it, and the more accurate your interpretation will be.

As you get better at doing this and more comfortable with the different terms it won’t seem so unnecessary.  Also, remember, this short passage is just an example for here.  Generally you would be doing this with a much longer passage and you would have started at the beginning of the book–i.e. you would understand the context better and know exactly where the author was coming from.

Finally, I’ve set up a way where you can see exactly how I organize my thoughts when I study my Bible.  Here are my very own worksheets for the Observation phase of this simplified, yet in-depth way to study your Bible.  They’re the perfect size to fold in half and stick in your Bible.  I hope this begins to help you see the practicality of what I’ve been explaining!

View this document on Scribd

Don’t let the incredible green color scare you!  I promise when printed, that neon green will be the lovely sea-foam green you see all over home | health | heart!

Are you confused?  Did I do something wrong?  Do you want more information?  Let me know and I’ll help you/correct myself!

Next time: Interpretation

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: