My good pastor has been urging his congregation with more heart even than usual to read their Bibles this year. As part of his exhortation to do that, he gave some practical examples from his own Bible reading of what he does to study. I think that was an excellent idea because I, for one, struggled for a long time to know just what to do during my Bible-reading times. I wish I could say those struggles are all over.
What I can say is that I have discovered a few little methods which really do help me. Methods aren’t saviors; they can even be slavers, pushing me in unhelpful directions. But you’re going to have some method for study, so you might as well pick a good one.
For what it is worth (in fact, take that phrase as a preface to every one of my blog posts), here is what I often do. I ask BibleWorks (Ctrl+Shift+B) or Logos (Ctrl+Alt+B) to copy a passage into Microsoft Word for me. You could use esv.org, too. That’s a nice site.
Then I strip out all of the numbers (esv.org can actually do that for you; it’s under “Options”). Find ^# and replace it with nothing; then replace double spaces with single ones—that should do it.
I’m left with a block of text that looks like this:
Then I start reading through the passage, hitting Enter after every major phrase or thought I see. I go fast, trying to keep the flow going in my mind. I hit Enter, and then I often hit Tab in order to subordinate one line to another. Later I might go through and try to think about those subordinate relationships (is this a grounds, a contrast?), but I don’t worry about that too much right off. I want to know the overall flow.
Below is what I did today while studying Romans 12. It certainly calls for refinement, and that refinement will cause me to ask yet more questions I wouldn’t otherwise. It helps me follow the thought flow. It helps me study.
This works mainly for epistolary literature and perhaps Jesus’ longer discourses in the Gospels.
For What It’s Worth.