Bible Structures

SEMANTIC STRUCTURE

Observe semantic patterns, e.g., the contrast between the antonyms. Romans 5:1-11 contains several
antonyms. In verses 6-8, “ungodly” and “sinners” are the opposite of “righteous” and “good.” In verse
10, “death” and “life” are opposites. Note phrases that are reciprocal in nature, e.g., 1 Corinthians 3:6:

SYNTHETIC STRUCTURE

Some literary structures of the Bible are constructed in introversion, alterations, or combination of both;
for example, the Book of Jonah is alteration and an introversion of a single verse in Isaiah.

PARAGRAPH ANALYSIS AND OUTLINING

English Bibles that do not have verses arranged in paragraphs obscure the meaning of the text.
Paragraphs form convenient portions for study, preaching and teaching. Every paragraph has a main
point that amplifies the theme of the unit being studied. However, the Scriptures are living in the sense
they speak in many diverse ways. Hence, these divisions are arbitrary! Therefore, you will want to
compare the divisions of versions against one another. You may discover a different division.

To do paragraph analysis and outlining, first record on a worksheet the paragraph divisions of the
sections to be studied from various versions of the Bible, such as American Standard Version, New
International Version, Holman Christian Standard Bible, Evangelical Standard Version, New English
Bible, and a Greek New Testament. Determine your own paragraph divisions for the passage.
Prepositions, conjunctions, and repeated phrases indicate a new paragraph.

Using your powers of literary observation, record the content of the various sections. Write descriptive
sentences or short headings for each point of your structure. Make an outline for the sections. The
outline must be thematically coherent, parallel and balanced. After you have done everything you can
with the text, compare several outlines from major introductions and commentaries. Set your worksheet
up like this on an 11 by 8 ½ inch paper:

NIV | HCSB | NEB | MINE |            OBSERVATIONS               | OUTLINE

Test your outline to be sure it is faithful to the text. Is it relevant and dynamic? Does it stimulate
interest and response?

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