If the term “Manuscript Bible study” is new to you, welcome to this enjoyable way to dig deeper into the Word of God! This method of study is great for growing students of the Word and those who have been studying for years. Every learner will advance in their Bible knowledge. By searching out who, what, when, where and why in each passage, the study becomes more alive, relatable and applicable. The stories of old won’t feel so far in the past any longer.
What is a Manuscript?
Manuscripts are basically described as original writings, such as for a book or document. Studying the Bible “manuscript style” means that the passages from the Word will have no headings or divided chapters. Additionally, verse numbers, added notes or grammar helps are not there (except periods at the end of sentences). You simply have the text.
Chapters, verse indentations and other breaks and notes are meant to help with reading, which they do. However, studying without them brings greater clarity and understanding to what is being read. For the sake of this deeper type of study, the grammar helps we normally use are considered distractions.
What You Will Need
- Choose the passage of Scripture you would like to study. When you first begin, it’s best to choose a shorter book in the Bible, or one that is easily understood. The shorter epistles or some of Jesus’ parables would be good places to start.
- Choose a free manuscript by searching online, or you can use a website such as www.biblegateway.com to copy and paste the passages you want to study. Remove chapter and verse numbers once you’ve transferred it to a word document. You will want to keep each paragraph, chapter and verse written as one continual text.
- Either on your computer, or with the actual books, having additional resources for studying can be helpful and insightful. The use of Bible dictionaries, commentaries, a thesaurus and Bible encyclopedias are very beneficial.
- You will want to use white paper and only on one side (leave the backside blank). Additionally, use double spacing and wide margins. What seems like excess and wasted space will actually fill up with your own observations, points of interest, questions and anything else relevant to you.
- Get out your favorite colored markers, highlighters, pens or pencils.
- You may want to make code chart, which will be explained in the next section. It will help with uniformity and remembering what the markings represent.
Prepare for Your Study.
To get the most out of studying, choose a time when you anticipate minor distractions, if any, and a low-traffic place in your home. The better you are able to focus and concentrate without interruptions, the more your mind will allow the text to open up to you.
Begin with prayer. Ask God to open your understanding to His Word, and to show you greater depths of the meanings and relevance of what you are reading. Ask for His help and strength in accepting all that He has for you in His Word, and applying it to your life as He desires.
Once you’ve chosen the passage of Scripture you want to study, read through it. Next, read through it again and divide it into manageable lengths. A good place to stop one section and start the next would be when there is a change of thought, a change of scenery, or a change/addition of new people.
As you read through a second time and break up sections, make a note in your margins that summarize each section. What was the section about, and where is it heading?
The next step is where your colored markers/highlighters or the like come into play. Before using them on your manuscript, you may want to make a code chart for colors and symbols or shapes. You will be using them to identify people, themes, keywords and more. Use whichever colors and shapes you would like for each. You can use shapes like circles, rectangles, clouds, squiggly lines, and arrows. Different colors for the shapes or underlining can also be used. (If you aren’t sure which shapes and colors you want to use for each area, you can decide as you are reading through your text and make your chart as you go.)
You are now going to read through your first text section, and start digging in. These are the different things you want to mark in your text (remember to use different colors and shapes for each):
- The people being talked about
- Verbs, action words
- Commands that were given
- Attitudes that were displayed
- Words and phrases that are repeated
- Results because of actions
- Conditional statements, such as, “When you do this…., If you do that…..”
Each of these points will help answer the following questions, which you will want to consider with each study section:
- Who is involved in our story or passage?
- What is taking place in the story or at that time in history?
- When did this story take place? Was it just before or directly after other specific and important events that indicate the actions or words of the people you are studying?
- Where did this story or passage take place?
- Why did this story take place? Was it a reaction to something else? Something someone said or did? Was it an act of faith or obedience?
After you’ve gotten a more in-depth view of the passage, add some additional information to your margins:
- What is the summary of each section? What is the overall theme of the book (once you’ve read it in its entirety)?
- Write down words you don’t know. Look up the meanings and jot them down on your paper.
- Highlight verses in the book that stand out to you as words of great importance.
At the end of each manuscript study, you gain insights and knowledge that never stood out to you before. Linking people, circumstances and actions together, among the many other things deeper study brings to your attention is quite fascinating! This incredible collection of books that offers great wisdom and knowledge is alive! You can find yourself relating to and understanding the emotions and situations the people faced.
After seeing the Word come to life, you realize the men and women from 2,000 years ago were very much like people today. Great lessons were learned, both wonderful and difficult.
That brings you to the last part of doing a manuscript study for reflection; How does all of this apply to you?
It’s a blessing that God allows mankind to learn with instruction and examples from those who have walked the earth many years ago.
As you take part in, and enjoy this stimulating way of learning, finish each section with the relevant lessons it has for you!
Thank you Josanne for this helpful article on studying Manuscripts. Discover more articles like this one and join Calm Christian Music to listen to the many Christian piano music channels, Christian Instrumental music, Gospel and Worship music, Christian hymns and psalms, Bible study audiobooks and Christian Choir music channels.