The Bible holds a vast amount of knowledge, and there are many ways to study that knowledge. I have used a variety of methods over the years. In some cases, the method chosen has been dictated by purpose. I use academic exegetical analysis methods if I am engaging in academic work. For my everyday bible study, I have used the SOAP (scripture, observation, application, prayer) method or prewritten bible studies on specific texts or topics.
Recently, I decided to undertake a series of biblical topics using the James Method. The James Method incorporates several components, including:
- Verse mapping. Verse mapping takes a specific verse and maps the words in the verse by looking up definitions. To do this step, I regularly use the Blue Letter Bible app, which provides a lot of biblical word definitions.
- Context. Looking at verse context includes who, when, why, and what. Who was the verse written by, and to whom was it addressed? When was the verse written? Why was it written? What was the subject or focus?
- Translations. I always start with the ESV translation. However, looking at other versions provides a nuanced view of how the verse may be experienced. I often include a reading of the NLT and NIV versions.
- View of God. What does this verse tell me about who God is and what he has done for me?
- View of Man. What does this verse tell me about who I am?
- Reflection and application. Reflection and application provide a space for me to reflect on what the verse means to me and how I may apply it to my everyday life.
- Prayer. Praying over God’s word and giving thanks for any insights and understanding that has been revealed through the study of this passage.
Overall, I am enjoying the process. I love words, so the verse mapping component speaks to my soul. Beyond that, I am realizing that deep diving into the verses this way also helps me to memorize scripture. The James Method is by no means a quick study method. Most verses take a minimum of five days to complete. I’m also enjoying deep diving into a few topics. Some of those I’ve chosen for this year include anxiety, surrender, grace, gratitude, love, and the armor of God. One topic per month usually gets me through four to six verses. I realize that doesn’t sound like much, but this process is less about volume and more about depth, and I am definitely experiencing depth.
There are so many ways to study the Bible. We would love to hear more about methods you use to study the bible. Please share in the comments below.
Contributed by Liz Hunt