How I Do It

What? You thought this was just a normal “read through the Bible just like everyone else does it” blog? You silly! That simply would not be challenging enough for me.

As someone famous* once said: “Go big or go home.”

I spend about an hour a day “manuscripting” the Bible. That means I have the text printed out on paper in a binder. Then I literally bust out like 700 pens with which to make my observations and write my questions. Ok, it is more like 20 pens. This style helps me see things I would never have noticed before. I spend more time on less text. By the end of the hour my pages usually look something like this:

I also like pretty colors.

The first thing I do is read the whole section I intend to study. This means I have another Bible handy so I can tell where the chapter ends. Then I begin phase 1: Observation.


The simple question to ask here is “what does the text say.” Nothing is too obvious to be an observation. Here are some things I look for:

  • repetition
  • cause/effect
  • nouns
  • compare/contrast
  • location/setting
  • characters
  • numbers
  • themes
  • genres
  • repetition
  • commands
  • “therefore,” “since,” etc.
  • Intro, middle, conclusion

And that usually takes me a long time. But you will be amazed at what you see when you look for basic stuff like that. Then I move to phase 2: Interpretation.


This phase is a little more tricky and it really helps to have people with you to do it. This is where we ask and attempt to answer any questions we have about what we saw. I try my best to pull my answers out of the text that I just read or any text the author might be referencing. So you won’t find me talking about 1 John when trying to figure out what Cain was up to. I go with what it says in Genesis. Sometimes I have to be okay not having all the answers by the time I move on. I just trust that I will get them at some point. On to phase 3: Application


The Bible is not meant to just be studied. It must shape and direct our lives. It must challenge and change us. So I try to find at least one thing God is calling me into through the text. Then I try to live it. I find it helps to get really specific. If your application starts with “when x happens . . .” then you need to get more specific. “Tomorrow I am going to do x,” is a much more helpful way to apply. Get someone to help you if you need it.

And that, my friends, is a manuscript study.

*I have no idea who said that.

7 responses

  1. Wow, that’s amazing. If I had my Bible printed out (which I started to do before I ran out of ink), that’s how I would study. Lots of colors. Did you buy one of those three ring binders from a bookstore or are you just using a pdf that you print some as you go? I’m curious because that’s the kind of study I would like to do.

    • I print them off as I go from a PDF that I get for working for InterVarsity. genesis is 128 pages long! It looks like you are doing the same thing as me! Fun. I will definitely be checking your blog out!

  2. Pingback: Exodus 7 « Badly Drawn Bible

  3. repetition
    “therefore,” “since,” etc.
    Intro, middle, conclusion

    I see what you did there… witty 😉

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