INDUCTIVE METHOD OF BIBLE STUDY
By Venerable Dr. Ifechukwu U. Ibeme. www.scribd.com/ifeogo
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Deduction: looking for proofs of our preconceived ideas from Scripture (Eisegesis). Deduction starts from a general thesis and seeks to produce its particular proofs, according to Plato’s method of syllogistic validation. Deduction searches for proofs.
Induction: finding out the meaning/message of the Scripture to make it our received or realised idea (Exegesis). Induction starts from particular observations or data and seeks to arrive at their general interpretation or true meaning, according to Aristotle’s method of scientific discovery. Induction searches for the gist.
Best biblical explanative process (exegesis) should follow literary-inductive interpretative principles (hermeneutics).
The purpose of Bible Study is not only to discover the Divine Truth, but also to decide for that Truth and to demonstrate the same Truth
in our lives; then shall one be properly placed to disseminate the Truth.
Below are some practical steps for fruitful inductive method of Bible study.
In Simple Summary This Involves:
Three BASIC STEPS (and other three Helpful Moves).
A. PERUSAL (READING): What is the written text?
Aim: To carefully and intelligibly read the text and get conversant with the passage.
Method: Read the Scriptures generally, then read the portion of the Scripture you want to study thoroughly. Let your reading be:
► Intelligible reading,
► Animated reading,
► Prayerful reading,
► Repeated reading,
► Wide reading,
► Consistent reading.
B. PLACES-PERSONS-POINTS (OBSERVATION): What does the text say?
Aim: To keenly look at the content of the text (as a whole, in parts and in details) to be able to accurately reframe it in your own words.
Method: As you read, use queries to sharpen the keenness of your power of observation of the passage, thereafter attempt to render/summarise the text/passage as you understand it.
(a) Ask all the Wh’s and How’s.
What style of Writing is this? (Narrative, Discuss, Poetry, Parable, Prophecy, Philosophy, Teaching?).
What subject/event is being discussed?
When did/does/will this happen?
Whence did/ought to antecede?
Where did/does/will this happen?
Whither should/did follow?
Who was/is speaking?
Whom was/is spoken to/of?
Why/Wherefore did/does/will the event/discuss take place?
How was/should this be accepted/expected?
(b) Notice important matters.
► Key/recurrent words/contrasts.
► Main theme/points/ideas.
► Outline sub-themes, sections, and segments.
► Literary genre and style, grammatical structure and figures of speech.
► Flow of logic/sequence followed in both reasoning and developments.
(c) Make your own summary or rendering of the passage or text.
C. PURPORT (INTERPRETATION): What did the text mean in its context?
Aim: To discover the plain contextual intention of the author or speaker.
Method: First of all and most importantly, true interpretation must insist on the “NATURAL (LITERAL) SENSE” or “LITERARY (GRAMMATICAL) MEANING” of the text in “PLAIN CONTEXT” with adjoining Scriptures.
Do not hasten to interpret allegorically, mystagogically or figuratively out of context except the form of the text indicates such and be sure to use plain biblical (not presumed) categories for their deciphering (e.g. Mat 13:1-23).
ALLEGORY which fascinates some people today as “revelation-knowledge” of the Scriptures is not interpretation and revelation but imagination and innovation. Imaginative symbolisation of the Scripture is subjective, has no reliable basis and often becomes unimaginably wild and erroneous in contradiction to other Scriptures. ALLEGORY sees every Scripture (irrespective of literary style and figure of expression) as not meaning what it says contextually but having some secretly coded meaning known to insightful few, which varies in depth or purpose and changes according to the “insight” (fancy or imagination) of the interpreter.
LITERALISM that fails to take literary forms and natural sense of biblical texts into consideration and yet claims to be the fundamental or true meaning of the Scripture often leads to errors that contradict other Scriptures.
(a) Background Information:
With the help of any available Bible Study Aids – Bible handbooks, Bible commentaries, Bible dictionaries, Bible maps, Bible charts, Study Bibles. Etc. – get as much factual information as you can about the periods, places, practices, parlance and peoples that relate to the text and context.
(b) Historical Context:
► In what circumstances (time, place, culture) was this written?
► What sequence of events and at what stage of these sequences is the text?
► How was the text understood and responded to by the people involved?
► How should the text have been understood by the people involved?
(c) Grammatical/Literary Context:
► How is the passage related to surrounding portions of the Scripture?
► What style/structure is the book, chapter or verse written? Is it prose or poetry; parable or plane; pedagogue, preaching or prophecy; past, present or prediction?
► What mood or figure of expression is the text written?
D. PRINCIPLES (CORRELATION): How is this interpretation agreeable with other Scriptures and related to the whole revelation of God?
Aim: To ensure a biblically balanced, safe and sound understanding of the text.
Method: Be in fellowship with all the inspired prophets of the Scriptures and sound teachers of the Church, by ensuring that your interpretation and understanding of the text is true with the whole Word of God.
Support, balance, elucidate and compare your interpretation with other related Scriptures and Bible Teachers. This depends on how vast you are in the Scriptures and how willing you are to agree with God’s Word.
(a) Canonical Context:
► Reflect on all you know in the Scriptures especially in relation to the text.
► How does the meaning of the text relate to the whole revelation of God’s Word?
► Does this fit into the Truth as revealed in other parallel Scripture passages?
► Consult Bible concordances, Bible encyclopaedic indexes, Bible topical notes, Bible chain references and other Bible Study Aids as mentioned in C (a) above.
(b) Theological Context and Content:
► Which aspect of the doctrine of salvation in Christ does this fit into?
► What further detail of revelation of God does this furnish the believer?
► Consult handbooks of Christian Doctrine, Systematic Theological books.
E. PRACTICALITY (APPLICATION): What must I/we do with this in real life?
Aim: To derive exhortations and admonitions for faith and life.
Method: Meditate and reflect on:
What mysteries to learn about God’s –
– Nature (Father/Son/Holy Spirit),
– Pleasure/ Will,
– Power/ Purpose.
What error/sin to avoid.
What commands to obey.
What examples to follow.
What precepts to learn.
What propositions to accomplish.
What promises to claim/hope for.
What portions to memorize.
F. POWER (TRANSFORMATION): What difference has all this made in my life?
Aim: To pattern my life after God’s revealed pleasure and purpose.
Method: Surrender to and depend on the Holy Spirit to help you obey and conform to God’s Word so that its power shall work out in your life:
► by believing what God has revealed to you in His Word;
► by letting it rule your ideas, opinions, desires, choices, etc;
► by letting it change your nature from glory to glory till the full stature/image of Christ.
Last updated February 6, 2012
By Venerable Dr I. U. Ibeme.
Copyright © PriscAquila Publishing, Maiduguri, Nigeria.
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