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How to Study the Bible, Pt. 2 - Observation Method

This method of studying Scripture is a little more detailed and time consuming than the word emphasis method, but it will allow you to read an entire passage and see connections and emphases that you had not before seen. By the way, we study this method in depth in our Hermeneutics class that we are offering this Fall. Register by going to www.abbashousenb.org/admissions.

Begin by typing out the passage that you are studying. It needs to be double spaced with wide margins and no chapter or verse references. This will allow you to make a ton of notes.

Next, get some different colored highlighters and pens.

Then, begin to make simple observations. Here are some things you should look for:

  • Nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc.

  • Write down what verbs pertain to what nouns. It is insightful to note who is doing what in the passage.

  • Lists - make a note of any time the writer lists things - what is listed?

  • tone - make note of whether the passage is positive, negative, sad, happy, etc.

  • Tense - does the tense shift or stay the same throughout?

  • Repitition - does the author use the same words or phrases multiple times? If so, jot them down. Repetitive words can give great insight into what the author deems most important.

  • Cause and effect - make note of what is said to cause what in the text. This can shed light on the way God made certain things to work.

The point here is not to rush to conclusions, but to learn as much as possible about the actual text itself. Once you make all of your observations, try to connect them into a few “take-aways.”

This method will take you some time. At first you might only be able to find 10 or so things in a passage. Keep at it. The more you practice the better you will get at seeing how all of these little details in a text help you understand the whole in a better way.

Here is an example of a passage that a student did in our Hermeneutics class.