Observation is a two-part process, and it begins by simply seeing what is in the text. However, do not be mistaken...it is so much more than mere reading. To truly see what the biblical author has written requires slowing down, reading the text, and even writing it out by hand. I will teach you how to employ every means available so the Lord can "open your eyes." Below is a chart of how the observation process should look:
The Observation step is perhaps the step that takes the most amount of time. As such, it is the step that has a lot of components. Since this is just a general overview, below are some considerations for the step of observation.
1. Examine Bible Translations
When studying any passage, please read at least two (2) translations. This will give you keen insight into what part of the passage was difficult to translate from the Greek or Hebrew. Focus attention there first.
2. Play"I Spy" with the Text
Using the chart above, slowly move thru the passage, identifying as many "Observations" as you can. There is no need to rush. Take your time. I recommend you write them down creating a list of issues to study by yourself or with others (including scholars who have written Commentaries on the passage).
3. Turn "Seeing" into Questions
Reshape the "I SPY" observation into the form of a "definitional" question. For example, "What is the meaning of the word ____________? Next, add to the question an "Implicational" aspect. For example, "What are the implications of _______________?
4. Seeing Textual "Forms"
• What literary shape is the material? This is examining "how the story is told" (its form) not "what is in it? (its content) Please see PowerPoint for details.
• What Genre is the material written in? Narrative - Genesis: Law - Parts of Exodus, Leviticus; Poetry - Psalms & much of the Prophets; Prophecy - Prophets; Gospel - Matt, Mark, Luke, John; Epistle - Letters of New Testament; Apocalypse - Revelation & Daniel
5. Seeing Textual "Limits"
A text will reveal to you its literary boundary markers. Set the beginning
and end of passage with one or more of these:
• A change in characters, location, setting, or topic
• A change in verb tense or mood (normally Epistles)
• A change in genre or form of material. For example, see difference
from Jonah 1 (narrative) to Jonah 2 (prayer in the form of poetry)