Saturday, December 20, 2008

Synthetic Study

The following material is based on the books:
1. How to Study the Bible (published by BEE International)
2. Walter Henrichsen, Gayle Jackson Studying, Interpreting, and Applying the Bible
3. Understanding the Bible (published by ICI)

Synthetic study is inductive method of the Bible study applied to a book of the Bible. It gives a panoramic view of the book without getting into all the details unlike analytic and verse studies. It is helpful to combine both methods in the Bible study. For example, when you are going to study a Bible book, you can begin with synthetic study of the book and then do analytical study chapter by chapter. After you have finished analytic study of each chapter, you can do synthetic study again. Synthetic study is harder than analytical study, but it is very helpful. In the beginning, it is better to choose short books for synthetic study.

1. Find out the historical background of the book:
1) Who was the author? Where and when did he write that book? What were his life circumstances?
2) Who were the readers? What were their life circumstances?
3) What were the social and historical circumstances at that time?
2. Read the whole book.
3. Find out the literature genre of the book.
4. Find out the way of presentation:
1) Thematic form - the author considers certain themes. Example: Matthew.
2) Chronological form - the author puts events in chronological way. Example: 1 and 2 Kings.
3) Apologetic form - the author presents his thoughts in polemic way replying to somebody. Example: Galatians.
4) Interrogation form - the author uses questions. Example: Malachi.
5) Logical form - the author expresses his thoughts in systematic and orderly way. Example: Romans.
5. Think of the form of the review table and draw it. The most easy way is to make one column for each chapter.
6. Fill out the table:
1) Find thesises or stages of the author's thought and write them down. However, you do not need to write down all the details.
2) Find the connections between the thesises or stages. The possible connections:
a) Association ("and")
b) Comparison ("as")
c) Contrast ("but")
d) Repetition (the same words or phrases are used repetitively)
e) Alternation (two ideas alternate - for example, Luke, chapters 1,2)
f) Details (deduction; from the general idea to the details)
g) Summary (induction; from the details to the general idea)
h) Causation (from the cause to the consequence)
i) Substantiation (from the consequence to the cause)
j) Explanation
k) Illustration
l) Climax
m) Turning point
n) Introduction
o) Conclusion
p) Questions
q) Answers
3) Think of the main idea of each chapter and then of the whole book.
7. Simplify your table:
1) Put the contents of your table in order. Try to combine two or more paragraphs into one (where they have the same main idea). Sometimes, several sections or even chapters have the same main idea.
2) Draw a new table. Fill it out with the main ideas of each section. Think of the main idea of the whole book. At this step, you should try to make the contents of your table as short as possible.
8. Define the main idea of the book. What does the book speak about (what is the subject of the book)? What does the book speak about the subject?
9. Define the author's purpose. Why and for what does the author speaks what he speaks?
10. Write down the argumentation (the presentation order).
11. Check additional literature. Read about the book you study in the Bible dictionary or encyclopedia. Read the Bible commentary.
12. Make conclusions and necessary corrections.
13. Make an plan of the book.
14. Consider about application of what you have learned. Consider whether you need to believe in that or apply it to your life.

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