Sunday, December 7, 2008

Inductive Method of Bible Study - Part 2

The second step of the inductive method of Bible study is interpretation. In observation, you answer the question, "What can I see here?" In interpretation, you are trying to answer the question, "What does it mean?" In other words, you are trying to find out what the text meant for the author and the first readers. In this step, you are not trying to find out the meaning of the text for yourself.

Interpretation consists of two stages - questions and answers. First, you ask questions. Then, you are trying to answer your questions.

1. What does it mean? (definition)
2. Why does it say? Why does it say here? (reason)
3. What does it imply? (implication)
4. How the words, phrases, or verses are connected? (connection)
5. How the thoughts are developed? (sequence)

In order to find answers, you can use:
1. The text that you study
2. The context (the fragments before and after the text you study)
3. Parallel texts in the Bible (you can find them from concordance)
4. Study of the culture of the biblical times (you can find this information from Bible encyclopedia and other literature)
5. Study of the most important words (using concordance to find out how the word is used in other verses and Bible dictionary in order to find the definition of the word)
6. Study of metaphoric language - metaphors, comparisons, idioms, allegories, personifications, anthropomorphism, hyperbola, and so on
7. Reference literature - concordances, Bible dictionaries, Bible atlases, Bible encyclopedia, and Bible commentaries (use them after you have studied the text by yourself)

After you finished answering questions, make a conclusion about the meaning of the text. After that, it is good to compare your interpretation with the Bible commentaries. If your interpretation contradicts several good commentaries, probably, you made errors in interpretation. So, you can you Bible commentaries in order to check yourself after you finished your own interpretation.


Sharon said...

and read an article by Zac Poonen on listening to the importance of hearing God's word.

Borz Löma Nal (Lema Nal) said...

This is true that it is important not only to read the Bible, but also to hear God's speaking. However that the latter is quite subjective while the first is objective. Any Christian experience should be according to the Bible. Otherwise, there is no assurance that this is a genuine Christian experience. There are many false prophets who are sure that God has been speaking to them.

Actually, my blog is for ex-members of abusive churches and cults. Leaders of abusive churches and cults of Christianity twist the Bible, though in different degree. However, members of these groups may be sure that God is speaking to them and supports that twisting of the Bible. Of course, this is not God's speaking, but a certain psychological phenomenon. However, for former members of these groups it is really not easy to find out what is the true God's speaking.

The key is to study the Bible to find out what God spoke through the Bible. The Bible is the only objective way to find out God's speaking.