25 May 2015

The Examination

Somebody sent me an email, asking for a copy of the sequence of questions I term The Examination. This is something that might be useful for other people.

This was constructed over the course of around thirty years. As I encountered questions that I thought would be useful additions, I added them, but not their source. Some of them are from reading material such as Tim LaHayes' How To Study The Bible For Yourself.  Other questions are from studying the Bible with active non-Christians.

The Examination

This covers the following questions, and points:

What is the Context

  • Immediate Context:
    • What precedes the word(s)? 
    • What follows the word(s)?
  • Remote Context: 
    • What is the main theme of the chapter?
    • What is the main theme of the book?
  • Total Context:
    • What does the Bible as a whole, say? 
    • What does the rest of the Testament say?

What is the outline of the Passage?
  • What is the outline of the chapter?
  • Pay attention to the connectives
Study parallel passages
  • Passages in canonical works;
  • Passages in non-canonical works;
What is the background of the passage?
  • Internal sources:
    • Study all of the Books in the entire Canon;
    • Take copious notes;
  • External sources:
    • Study the commentaries;
    • Study Greek, Hebrew, English, and Aramaic Dictionaries;
Understand the words
  • Recognize the literary style book:
    • Prose narrative; 
    • Poetry; 
    • Parabolic literature; 
    • Apocalyptic literature;
    • Discourses;
  • Observe the context:
    • The same word usually means the same thing in the same passage, but in a different passage may have a different meaning;
  • Study the specific words:
    • Get all the meanings of the word; 
    • Look at the root of the word; 
    • Look at other words with the same gematria value; 
    • Look at how it is used in other passages.;
  • Study the figures of speech:
  • Pay attention to the underlying language: 
    • Aramaic;
    • Hebrew;
    • Greek; 
    • Latin;
Make Observations about The Actions in the Passage:
  • Who is being discussed:
    • Who was present when it was written; 
    • Who else was around at the time;
    • Who wrote the passage; 
  • Who is involved in the passage:

  • What is the passage about: 
    • What else is the passage about
  • When was it written:
    • What was the time; 
    • What was the date; 
    • What was the season; 
    • What was the astronomical configuration;
  • When do the events in the passage take place:
    • What stage in life; 
    • What time in physical terms; 
    • What astronomical configuration;
  • Where do the events in the passage take place:

  • Where was the author when the passage was written:

  • Why was it written:

  • How was it written:
Make observations about thoughts
  • Literary form: 
    • Prose; 
    • Poetry; 
    • Dialogue;
    • Monologue;
  • Words and phrases:
    • Key words; 
    • Key phrases; 
    • Recurring phrases; 
    • Unfamiliar words; 
    • Gematria connections;
  • Expression:
    • Idiomatic expression; 
    • Figures of Speech;
  • Grammar: 
    • Verb; 
    • Noun; 
    • Pronoun; 
    • Conjunction; 
    • Command; 
    • Question; 
    • Gerund;
  • Structure of paragraphs:
    • How do they relate to the others in the same verse; 
    • How do they relate to others in the same chapter; 
    • How do they relate to others in the same book;
  • Composition:
    • Repetition; 
    • Comparison; 
    • Contrast; 
    • Progression; 
    • Digression; 
    • Cause and Effect; 
    • Questions and Answers;
  • Literary Style:
    • Mood of the passage; 
    • Mood of the word; 
    • Tense of the passage; 
    • Tense of the word; 
    • Atmosphere; 
    • Illustrations; 
    • Idiomatic Expression; 
    • Puns; 
    • Figures of Speech; 
    • Quotes; 
    • Anagrams; 
    • Palindromes;
Answer the following:
  • What principles are explicitly stated?
  • What principles are implicitly stated?
  • How does it apply to me?
  • How do I apply in my life?
  • What do I need to change to live by those principles?
Make up your own questions about the passage:
  • Definitive --- pertaining to meaning;
  • Rational --- pertaining to reason;
  • Structural --- pertaining to relationship;
  • Implicational --- pertaining to things implied;
  • Theological --- pertaining to doctrine;
  • Historical --- background information;
  • Cultural --- background information;
  • Speculative --what else could be meant;
  • Application --- what is the personal application;
  • What is the personal challenge;
  • Interpretation --- the meaning of the author;
  • Open doors to new insight;
  • Information --- observe significant facts;
Formulating good questions:
  • Is the question clear and easy to understand
  • Does it give enough information to guide the thinking
  • Does it have a definite answer
  • Will it lead to speculation
  • Does it stimulate the thought process
  • Does it make a point worth discussing at this tome by this group
  • Does the question reveal the answer
What is the meaning:
  • Figurative meaning;
  • Literal meaning;
  • Qua Postmodernism;
  • Qua Objectivism;
  • Qua Marxism;
  • Qua Maoism;
  • Qua Existentialism;
  • Qua Reform Jewish theology;
  • Qua Conservative Jewish theology;
  • Qua Karaite theology;
  • Qua Orthodox Jewish theology;
  • Qua Sh’ite theology;
  • Qua Suni theology;
  • Qua Daoist theology;
  • Qua Tibetan Buddhist theology;
  • Qua Zen Buddhist theology;
  • As transpersonal psychology;
  • As metaphor;
    • As annihilation metaphor;
    • As sexual metaphor;
  • As Pentecostal theology;
  • As Baptist theology;
  • As Orthodox Christian theology;
  • As Catholic Christian theology;
  • As Calvinist theology;
  • As Lutheran theology;
  • As a tool of social control;
  • As a tool of political control;
Some Guiding principles:
  • What is the relevancy of the passage?
  • What is the universal practice?
  • What is the local practice?
  • Change your life to accord with the principle;
  • Keep a record of how you apply the principle;
Study preparation
  • Look for the relation of the passage to the context;
  • Seek to understand the passage in its original setting;
  • Try to visualize the scene and the event;
  • Find the structure of the passage;
  • Observe the significant facts of the passage;
  • Study the meanings of the words or phrases;
  • Look up the references or parallel passages;
  • Interpret the thoughts of the passage;
  • Make comparisons with corresponding views or customs of the present days;
  • Find illustrations from one's own experiences;
  • Paraphrase the passage in contemporary language;
  • Summarize the central teaching of the passage;
  • Make an outline;
  • Draw principles or implications suggested in the text;
  • Consider personal applications;

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