The first suggestion is the use of a written work sheet or form. This will help you to record certain types of information as you read through the biblical book. If you take your personal observation notes in one color of ink, then use other colors for insight from different research tools. The following worksheet is tentative, but it is one which is helpful to me. You may want to develop your own order and headings. The following worksheet is merely a listing of categories of information which may be helpful in interpretation. You will need to leave more space between items on your worksheet. The enclosed sample form is primarily for topics and their relation to the four cycles of readings. Included at the end of this Textbook is a sample of the book of Romans., chapters 1-3 (literary unit) and the book of Titus (book summary).
I. Reading Cycles
A. First reading
1. The overarching theme or purpose of the whole book is: (brief description)
2. This theme is exemplified in (choose one)
3. The type of literary genre is
B. Second reading
1. The major literary units or content divisions are
2. Summarize the subject (in a declarative sentence) of each major division and note their relationship to each other (chronological, logical, theological, etc.)
3. List the places you checked your outline
C. Third reading
1. Internal information concerning the historical setting (give chapter and verse)
a. Author of the book
b. Date of its writing or date of event
c. Recipients of the book
d. Occasion of the writing
2. Fill in your working content outline by adding the paragraph divisions. Compare translations from the different translation theory groups, especially from the literal and idiomatic (dynamic equivalent). Then write out your own outline.
3. Summarize each paragraph in a declarative sentence.
4. List possible application points with each major division and/or paragraphs.
D. Fourth reading
1. Make note of significant parallel passages (both positive and negative). Observe these concentric circles of significance.
a. Same book or literary units
b. Same author
c. Same period, subject or literary genre
d. Same Testament
e. Entire Bible
2. Check systematic theology books.
3. Develop specialized lists in order to discern structure.
a. List the major and minor characters.
b. List key terms (theological, recurrent or unusual terms).
c. List the major events.
d. List the geographical movements.
4. Make note of difficult passages.
a. Textual problems
(1) from margin of your English Bible
(2) from comparing English translations
b. Historical problems and uniqueness
c. Theological problems of uniqueness
d. Those verses that cause you confusion
E. Application truths
1. Write your detailed outline on the left side of a sheet.
2. On the right side write down (in pencil) possible application truths for the major literary units and/or the paragraphs.
F. Use of Research Tools
1. Read research tools in appropriate order. Take notes on a “work sheet.” Look for
a. points of agreement
b. points of disagreement
c. new thoughts or applications
d. record possible interpretations on difficult passages
2. Analyze insights from research tools and develop a final detailed outline with application points. This master outline should help you to discern the original author’s structure and purpose.
a. Do not major on minors.
b. Do not forget the context.
c. Do not read into the text more than, or less than, the original author intended.
d. Application points should be done on three levels:
(1) theme of the whole book—first reading
(2) major literary units—second reading
(3) paragraphs—third reading
e. Allow parallel passages to confirm and clarify your interpretation as the final step. This allows the Bible to interpret itself. However, doing it last safeguards us from allowing our overall systematic theological understanding of the Bible from silencing, ignoring, or skewing difficult passages.
G. Theological Insight
1. Use systematic theology books to find how your text relates to the major truths of the Bible.
2. Describe in your own words the major truth(s) of your passage. Your sermon or teaching lesson should reflect this truth!
II. Exegetical Procedures
A. The Text (minimum one paragraph in English)
1. Establish the original text (note any manuscript variants)
2. Translation options
a. Word for word (KJV, ASV, NASB, RSV, NRSV)
b. Dynamic equivalent (NIV, NEB, Jerusalem Bible, Williams, TEV)
c. Other ancient translations (LXX, Vulgate, Peshitta, etc.)
d. No paraphrase translations (i.e., commentaries) at this stage
3. Check any significant variables in the translations and why
a. Greek manuscript problem(s)
b. Difficult word(s)
c. Unique construction(s)
d. Theological truth(s)
B. Exegetical items to be checked
1. Note immediate contextual unit (how is your paragraph related to the literary unit and how is it related to the surrounding paragraphs)
2. Note possible structural elements
a. Parallel structures
c. Figures of speech
3. Note grammatical elements (syntax)
a. Verbs or verbals (tense, voice, mood, number, gender)
b. Special construction (conditional sentences, prohibitions, etc.)
c. Word or clause order
4. Note key words
a. Give full semantical field
b. Which meaning(s) fit the context best
c. Be careful of set theological definitions
5. Note significant biblical parallels of words, topics or quotes
a. Same context
b. Same book
c. Same author
d. Same genre
e. Same period
f. Entire Bible
C. Historical Summary
1. How the specific occasion of the writing effects the truth statements.
2. How the cultural milieu effects the truth statements.
3. How recipients effect the truth statements.
D. Theological Summary
1. Theological truths
a. State clearly the author’s theological assertion:
(1) Special terminology
(2) Significant clause or phrase
(3) Central truth of sentence(s) or paragraph(s)
b. How does this relate to the subject or truth of the literary unit?
c. How does this relate to the subject or truth of the entire book?
d. How does this relate to the subject or truth as revealed in Scripture?
2. Special points of interest
3. Personal insights
4. Insights from commentaries
E. Application Truths
1. Application truth of literary unit
2. Application truth(s) of paragraph(s) level
3. Application truth of theological elements within the text
III. Basic Procedures for an Academic NT Word Study
A. Establish the basic meaning and semantic field
Use A Greek-English Lexicon by Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich, Danker
B. Establish the contemporary usage (Koine Greek)
1. Use The Vocabulary of the Greek Testament by Moulton, Milligan for Egyptian papyri
2. Use the Septuagint and Redpath’s Concordance of the LXX for Palestinian Judaism
C. Establish the semantic domain
Use Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament by Louw, Nida or Expoistory Dictionary of New Testament Words by Vine
D. Establish the Hebrew background
Use Strong’s Concordance with its numbers linked to the Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament by Brown, Driver, Briggs; New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis, edited by Van Gemneren (5 vols.) or Synonyms of the Old Testament by Girdlestone
E. Establish the grammatical form of the word in context
Use an interlinear Greek-English New Testament and an analytical lexicon or Analytical Greek New Testament by Timothy and Barbara Friberg
F. Check the frequency of usage by genre, authors, subject, etc.
Use a concordance
G. Check your study with
– a Bible encyclopedia – use Zondervan’s Pictorial Bible Encyclopedia (5 vols) or The International Bible Encyclopedia (5 vols)
– a Bible Dictionary – use Anchor Bible Dictionary or Interpreter’s Bible Dictionary
– a theological word book – use The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology (3 vols) edited by Colin Brown,
or Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (abridged) by Bromiley
– a systematic theological book – use Systematic Theology by Berkhof; A Theology of the New Testament by Ladd; New Testament Theology by Stagg; or a number of others
H. Write out summary of significant interpretive findings
IV. A Brief Summary of Hermeneutical Principles
A. Always pray first. The Spirit is essential. God wants you to understand.
B. Establish the Original Text
1. Check the notes in the margin of your Study Bible for Greek manuscript variants.
2. Do not build a doctrine on a disputed text, look for a clear parallel passage.
C. Understanding the Text
1. Read the entire context (literary context is crucial). Check the outline in a Study Bible or commentary to determine the literary unit.
2. Never try to interpret less than a paragraph. Try to outline the main truths of the paragraphs in the literary unit. This way we can follow the original author’s thoughts and their development.
3. Red the paragraph in several translations which use different translation theories.
4. Consult good commentaries and other Bible study aids only after you have studied the text first (remember the Bible, the Spirit, and you are priority in biblical interpretation).
D. Understanding the Words
1. The NT writers were Hebrew thinkers, writing in Koine (street) Greek.
2. We must find the contemporary meaning and connotations, not modern English definitions (see the Septuagint and Egyptian papyri).
3. Words have meaning only in sentences. Sentences have meaning only in paragraphs. Paragraphs have meaning only in literary units. Check the semantic field (i.e., various meanings of words).
E. Use Parallel Passages
1. The Bible is the best interpreter of the Bible. It has only one author, the Holy Spirit.
2. Look for the clearest teaching text on the truth of your paragraph (reference Bible or concordance).
3. Look for the paradoxical truths (tension-filled pairs of eastern literature).
1. You cannot apply the Bible to your day until you understand what the inspired author was saying to his/her day (historical context is crucial).
2. Be careful of personal biases, theological systems, or agendas. Let the Bible speak for itself!
3. Be careful of principlizing every verse. Not all texts have universal relevance. Not all texts apply to modern individuals.
4. Respond immediately to new truth or insight. Bible knowledge is meant to produce daily Christlikeness and kingdom service.
A SELECTED LIST OF
RECOMMENDED RESEARCH TOOLS BY CATEGORY
I. The Bible
A. Understanding the process of translating.
1. J. Beekman and J. Callow, Translating the Word of God
2. Eugene Nida, God’s Word in Man’s Language (William Carey, N.D.)
3. Sakae Kubo and Walter Specht, So Many Versions (Zondervan, 1983)
4. F. F. Bruce, The Book and the Parchments (Revell, 1963)
B. History of the English Bible
1. F. F. Bruce The English Bible: A History of Translations From the Earliest Versions to the New English Bible (Oxford, 1970)
2. Ira Maurice Price, The Ancestry of Our English Bible (Harper, 1956)
II. How to do Research
A. Walter J. Clark, How To Use New Testament Greek Study Aids (Loizeaux Brothers, 1983)
B. F.W. Danker, Multipurpose Tools for Bible Study (Concordia, 1970)
C. R.T. France, A Bibliographic Guide to New Testament Research (JSOT Press, 1979)
D. D. W. Scholer, A Basic Bibliographic Guide for New Testament Exegesis (Eerdmans, 1973)
A. James Braga, How to Study the Bible (Multnomah, 1982)
B. Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart, How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth (Zondervan, 1982)
C. Richard Mayhue, How to Interpret the Bible for Yourself (Moody, 1986)
D. J. Robertson McQuilkin, Understanding and Applying the Bible (Moody, 1983)
E. A. Berkeley Mickelsen, Interpreting the Bible (Eerdmans, 1963)
1. John MacArthur, Jr., Rediscovering Expository Preaching (Word, 1992)
G. Bruce Corley, Steve Lemke, and Grant Lovejoy, Biblical Hermeneutics (Broadman & Holman, 1996)
2. Robert Stein, A Basic Guide to Interpreting the Bible
IV. Basic Introductions to Biblical Books
A. Old Testament
1. R. K. Harrison, Introduction to the Old Testament (Eerdmans, 1969)
2. William Sanford LaSor, David Allen Hubbard and Frederic Wm. Bush, Old Testament Survey (Eerdmans, 1982)
3. Edward J. Young, An Introduction to the Old Testament (Eerdmans, 1949)
4. T. Arnold and Bryan E. Beyer, Encountering the Old Testament (Baker, 1998)
5. Peter C. Craigie, The Old Testament: Its Background, Growth and Context (Abingdon, 1990)
B. New Testament
1. Donald Guthrie, New Testament Introduction (IVP, 1970)
2. Bruce M. Metzger, The New Testament: Its Background, Growth and Content (Abingdon, 1965)
3. D. A. Carson, Douglas J. Moo, and Leon Morris, An Introduction to the New Testament (Zondervan 1992)
4. Walter A. Elwell and Robert W. Yarbrough, Encountering the New Testament (Baker 1998)
5. Robert H. Gundry, A Survey of the New Testament (Zondervan, 1994)
V. Bible Encyclopedias and Dictionaries (multi-volume)
A. M. Tenney, ed., The Zondervan Pictorial Bible Encyclopedia, 5 vols. (Zondervan, 1976)
B. G. A. Buttrick, ed., The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible and Supplement, 5 vols. (Abingdon, 1962-1977)
C. Geoffrey W. Bromiley, ed., The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, 5 vols., rev. ed. (Eerdmans, 1979-1987)
1. Joel B. Green, Scot McKnight and J. Howard Marshall editors, Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels (IVP, 1992)
2. Gerald F. Hawthorne, Ralph P. Martin and Daniel G. Reid editors, Dictionary of Paul and His Letters (IVP, 1993)
3. David Noel Freedman, ed., The Anchor Bible Dictionary, 6 vols. (Doubleday, 1992)
VI. Commentary Sets
A. Old Testament
1. D. J. Wiseman, ed., The Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (InterVarsity, 1970)
2. A Study Guide Commentary Series (Zondervan, 1977)
3. R. K. Harrison, ed., The New International Commentary (Eerdmans, 1976)
4. Frank E. Gaebelein, ed., The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Zondervan, 1958)
5. Bob Utley, www.freebiblecommentary.org
B. New Testament
1. R. V. G. Tasker, ed., The Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Eerdmans, 1959)
2. A Study Guide Commentary Series (Zondervan, 1977)
3. Frank E. Gaebelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Zondervan, 1958)
4. The New International Commentary (Eerdmans, 1976)
5. Bob Utley, www.freebiblecommentary.org
VII. Word Studies
A. Old Testament
1. Robert B. Girdlestone, Synonyms of the Old Testament (Eerdmans, 1897)
2. Aaron Pick, Dictionary of Old Testament Words (Kregel, 1977)
3. R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer, Jr. and Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Moody, 1980)
4. William A. Van Gemeren, editor, Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis, 5 vols. (Zondervan, 1997)
B. New Testament
1. A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament (Broadman, 1930)
2. M. R. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament (MacDonald, 1888)
3. W. E. Vine, Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words (Revell, 1968)
4. William Barclay, A New Testament Wordbook, (SCM, 1955)
5. , More New Testament Words (Harper, 1958)
6. C. Brown, et. al., The New Dictionary of New Testament Theology, 5 vols. (Zondervan, 1975-1979)
1. Alan Richardson, ed., A Theological Word Book of the Bible (MacMillan, 1950)
2. Everett F. Harrison, ed., Baker’s Dictionary of Theology (Baker, 1975)
VIII. Cultural setting
1. Adolf Deissman, Light From the Ancient East (Baker, 1978)
2. Roland de Vaux, Ancient Israel, 2 vols. (McGraw-Hill, 1961)
3. James M. Freeman, Manners and Customs of the Bible (Logos, 1972)
4. Fred H. Wright, Manners and Customs of Bible Lands (Moody, 1953)
5. Jack Finegan, Light From the Ancient Past, 2 vols. (Princeton University Press, 1974)
6. Victor H. Matthews, Manners and Customs in the Bible (Hendrickson, 1988)
1. John Bright, A History of Israel (Westminster, 1981)
2. D. J. Wiseman, ed., Peoples of Old Testament Times (Oxford, 1973)
3. P. R. Ackroyd and C. F. Evans, ed., The Cambridge History of the Bible, vol. 1 (Cambridge, 1970)
C. New Testament
1. Adolf Deissmann, Light From the Ancient East (Baker, 1978)
2. F. F. Bruce, New Testament History (Doubleday, 1969)
3. Edwin M. Yamauchi, Harper’s World of the New Testament (Harper and Row, 1981)
4. Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah (Eerdmans, 1971)
5. A. N. Sherwin-White, Roman Society and Roman Law in the New Testament (Oxford, 1963)
6. J. W. Shepard, The Christ of the Gospels (Eerdmans, 1939)
1. Jack Finegan, Light From the Ancient Past, 2 vols. (Princeton University Press, 1946)
2. H. T. Vos, Archaeology of Bible Lands (Moody, 1977)
3. Edwin M. Yamauchi, The Stones and the Scriptures (Holman, 1972)
4. K. A. Kitchen, Ancient Orient and the Old Testament (InterVarsity Press, 1966)
5. John H. Walton, Ancient Israelite Literature in Its Cultural Context (Zondervan, 1989)
1. C. F. Pfeiffer and H. F. Vos, The Wycliffe Historical Geography of Bible Lands (Moody, 1967)
2. Barry J. Beitzel, The Moody Atlas of Bible Lands (Moody, 1985)
3. Thomas V. Brisco ed., Holman Bible Atlas (Broadman and Holman, 1998)
A. Old Testament
1. A. B. Davidson, The Theology of the Old Testament (Clark, 1904)
2. Edmond Jacob, Theology of the Old Testament (Harper & Row, 1958)
3. Walter C. Kaiser, Toward an Old Testament Theology (Zondervan, 1978)
4. Paul R. House, Old Testament Theology (IVP, 1998)
B. New Testament
1. Donald Guthrie, New Testament Theology (InterVarsity, 1981)
2. George Eldon Ladd, A Theology of the New Testament (Eerdmans, 1974)
3. Frank Stagg, New Testament Theology (Broadman, 1962)
4. Donald G. Bloesch, Essentials of Evangelical Theology, vol. 2 (Harper & Row, 1978)
C. Entire Bible
1. Geerhardus Vos, Biblical Theology (Eerdmans, 1948)
2. L. Berkhof, Systematic Theology (Eerdmans, 1939)
3. H. Orton Wiley, Christian Theology (Beacon Hill Press, 1940)
4. Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology, 2nd ed. (Baker, 1998)
D. Doctrine—historically developed
1. L. Berkhof, The History of Christian Doctrines (Baker, 1975)
2. Justo L. Gonzales, A History of Christian Thought, vol. 1 (Abingdon, 1970)
A. Norman Geisler, Christian Apologetics (Baker, 1976)
B. Bernard Ramm, Varieties of Christian Apologetics (Baker, 1962)
C. J. B. Phillips, Your God Is Too Small (MacMillan, 1953)
D. C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (MacMillan, 1978)
E. Colin Brown, ed., History, Criticism and Faith (InterVarsity, 1976)
F. F. F. Bruce, Answers to Questions (Zondervan, 1972)
Walter C. Kaiser Jr., Peter H. Davids, F. F. Bruce and Manfred T. Brauch, Hard Sayings of the Bible (IVP, 1996)
XI. Bible Difficulties
1. F. F. Bruce, Questions and Answers
2. Gleason L. Archer, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties (Zondervan, 1982)
3. Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe, When Critics Ask (Victor, 1992)
4. Walter C., Kaiser, Jr., Peter H. Davids, F. F. Bruce and Manfred F. Baruch, Hard Sayings of the Bible (IVP, 1996) and More Hard Sayings of the Bible
XII. Textual Criticism
A. Bruce M. Metzger, The Text of the New Testament, Its Transmission, Corruption and Restoration (Oxford, 1964)
B. J. Harold Greenlee, Introduction to New Testament Textual Criticism (Eerdmans, 1964)
C. Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, (United Bible Societies.)
1. Old Testament (Hebrew)
i. Francis Brown, S. R. Driver, and Charles A. Briggs, Hebrew and English Lexicon, (Clarendon Press, 1951)
ii. Bruce Einspahr, Index to Brown, Driver and Briggs Hebrew Lexicon
iii. Benjamin Davidson, Analytical Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon (MacDonald)
iv. Ludwig Koehler and Walter Baumgartner, The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, 2 vols.
2. New Testament (Greek)
i. Walter Bauer, William F. Arndt, F. Wilbur Gingrich and Frederick W. Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon (University of Chicago Press, 1979)
ii. Johannes P. Louw and Eugene A. Nida, eds., Greek-English Lexicon, 2 vols. (United Bible Societies, 1989)
iii. James Hope Moulton and George Milligan, The Vocabulary of the Greek Testament (Eerdmans, 1974)
iv. William D. Mounce, The Analytical Lexicon to the Greek New Testament (Zondervan, 1993)
XIV. Available web sites to buy out of print, used, and discounted books