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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Structure

Just finished a lunch appointment with my pastor.  Great time, great guy.  We were sharing different things that are going on in our lives and essentially encouraging one another.  The conversation veered into our mutual amazement with the Word of God.  He is working through a series on the sermon on the mount currently, he shared that he was really helped in understanding what the text was saying by noticing the structure.
To do good observation yo have to pepper the text with questions; but where do you get the questions?
That has been my experience as well.  What he meant by structure was noticing the structural markers in the text.  For instance, you may have heard that when you see a "therefore," in the Bible, you need to stop and see what it is there for.  The reason, "therefore" is a structural marker, it indicates that what comes after it was somehow impacted or the result of what came before.  That is just one of many words that indicate that type of relationship.  You can find a more complete list here.

When I was learning to go deeper in my Bible study, the men who were leading me and all of the references I used told me that in order to really dig in I needed to pepper the text with questions.  Really?  What questions?  For years I struggled with that.  Then I found structure.  We had a week with Robert Traina at Asbury Seminary.  He schooled  a group of us on how to use structure to make better observations.  Then to use those markers to understand the literary relationships that unearthed a whole passle of questions that I could ask.  The more I use that method, the more I am able to observe, the richer and more overwhelming the text becomes.

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