David L. Thompson's Bible Study That Works Thesis

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Bible Study That Works

Overview of the IBS (Inductive Bible Study) method: A review of David L. Thompson's Bible Study that Works (Nappanee, Indiana: Evangel, 1994)

"Look before you leap" is the first principle articulated in David L. Thompson's text Bible Study that Works. This expression reflects Thompson's informal, accessible tone when addressing ordinary people, struggling with their daily concerns and using the process of Biblical interpretation and study as a source of inspiration and comfort. Thompson advises, first and foremost, again and again: do not come to the text with preexisting assumptions. Do not allow the clutter of your mind to affect your reading. In other words, let the words of the scripture speak for themselves. This open, yet rigorously observational attitude is at the heart of the IBS (Inductive Bible Study) method. IBS stresses an inductive, or observational approach, rather than a deductive method of Biblical criticism.

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In deductive approaches, the reader scans the text to see if his or her assumed meaning is revealed in the passage. But more surprising, complex, subtle and challenging meanings of familiar passages can be revealed through inductive study -- we think we know the Bible, until we truly 'let Jesus speak to us' in his own words, as we open our hearts. In the IBS method observation always comes first, then interpretation of Jesus' words. The order is crucial. The formal steps of IBS are as follows: (1) Observation (asking what does the passage say in its context); (2) interpretation (of the passage in light of one's observations); (3) evaluation (of the passage in terms of its place in the greater narrative arc of the book and the Bible as a whole): (4) application (of the text's true message to the reader's life) and (5) correlation (creating connections between scripture and the present).

Thesis on David L. Thompson's Bible Study That Works Assignment

Beyond a lack of pre-judgment, Thompson advocates studying the Biblical cannon in a series of what he calls units, which involves examining the ways and reasons that these units were originally penned (Thompson 32). Understanding what the story of Jonah and the whale means must be understood in terms of where Jonah ends up in the final narrative, just as the struggle of the Israelites in slavery must be understood in terms of their final liberation, after turning away and then turning back from the guidance of God's words voiced through the prophet Moses. And on an even more 'macro' level, the Bible must be interpreted as a book with a coherent, seamless message.

Thompson says: first survey the unit as a whole, and only then go and review smaller sections of the work. The second step Thompson advocates is titling the text with mental 'short-hands' or creating meaningful divisions different chapters, paragraphs, and subunits in a way that helps make sense of the works' content and structure. This can actually be helpful in avoiding losing the 'forest in the trees,' which is always a danger when reading long, extended narratives. Above all, Thompson is concerned with content in a holistic fashion (Thompson 34). Attend to major matters first, rather than focus on a few key 'greatest hits' passages (Thompson 45). The Bible should not be read like a series of great quotations!

Thirdly, "note proportion and sense the atmosphere," in other words, understand what the author of the book felt was truly important (Thompson 45). Review how much space on the page is spent upon various aspects of the story. The usefulness of this technique can be seen in many books of the Bible -- Thompson examines Jonah as a test case, but this question of proportionality is also manifest… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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