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Monday, October 20, 2014


If you are studying a book of the Bible there are three overall steps you should take.  Most people only take one of them and they take that step rather haphazardly at times.
The process is:
  1. Look at the book as a whole – that means that you do an overview of the book so that you are familiar with the content and the flow of the author’s argument.  There are many ways to do an overview.  But that is not the focus here.
  2. Analyze the content of the book – this is where a lot of us begin.  We dive into the book, chapter 1, verse 1 without having a grasp of what the book is about.  That means that we are trying to figure that out verse by verse.  Not easy if not impossible.  It leads to wrenching passages out of the context of the author’s argument, among other errors.  Like the overview there are many ways one can analyze the content of a book.  We cover five or six in the Dads Teach the Bible workshops, there are three in my book and workbook.
  3. Summarize what you have learned – this is the step that most people skip even if they have done the first two.  The problem is that this is the step that will cement what you have learned in your study.  After doing an overview and working through each section of the book, as you go back through the book you will see the whole with different eyes.
This afternoon I have been working on a summary of the book of Hebrews.  I saw threads of the author’s argument that I missed both in the overview and the section by section analysis.  Why?  Because having done the overview and analysis, as I again read the book as a whole several times I was more familiar with the parts.  I saw connections that I had not seen when I was looking at the detail of the sections or the book as a whole during the overview.

While I still have work to do, there are vestiges of a theme that I had not seen there before emerging.  My understanding of Hebrews and by extension my Lord is richer as a result.

Don’t leave out steps.  Especially 1 and 3.  If you need help with method, let me know.  I will help.


  1. As probably most of us, I was taught and for years had been using step 2 only. Only lately have I started to grasp and use step 1 -- *Book overview* (thanks for pointing me to the _Synthetic Bible study_ messages by Howard Hendricks on, Mike). However, I am yet missing Step 3 and would like to learn and pass it on.

    1. Give me some times when you are available and we can set up a conference call to work through this...