How to study a text via "Three Worlds"


    First of all, become familiar with the "Three Worlds"  Concept which comes from your Hauer/Young Tetbook, see especially chapters two and three, and see class notes.
    Here  below is how one student summarized the worlds (she has more detail here)

    Literary World--The literary world of the Bible is simply the text itself, apart from anything outside the text.  We mean the world (or, better, worlds) created by the text; the words on the page, by the stories, songs, letters and the myriad other types of literature that make up the Bible.  All good literature (and the Bible is, among other things, good literature) creates in readers' minds magnificent, mysterious, and often moving worlds that take on a reality of their own, whether or not they represent anything real outside the pages (Hauer and Young ch 2).

    Historical World--The historical world of the Bible is the world "behind the text" or "outside the text".  It is the context in which the Bible came to be written, translated, and interpreted over time, until the present.  In studying the historical world of the Bible, we look for evidence outside the text that helps us answer questions such as, who wrote this text, when was it written, to whom was it written, and why was it written.  We also probe the text itself for evidence that links it to historical times, places, situations, and persons (Hauer and Young 2)..

    Contemporary World--The contemporary world is the "world in front of the text" or the "world of the reader."  In one sense, there are as many contemporary worlds of the Bible as there are readers, for each of us brings our own particular concerns and questions to the text.  They inevitably shape our reading experience.  We are all interested in answering the questions of whether the Bible in general, or particular texts, have any relevance to our personal lives (Hauer and Young  ch3).


    Then, if a specific way to organize your research would help,

    here is ONE way you might approach your study:

    You might envision studying a passage as a four step process, or a three step process  (Observe, Interpret, Apply) with an important interlude (Correlate).
    The following outline is from Oletta Wald:

    • OBSERVATION What does the text say?
    • INTERPRETATION  What did it say and mean to its original readers? What does it mean by what it says? 
    • Don't forget CORRELATION: How does this fit with the flow/narrative/story of the rest of  Bible
    • APPLICATION How does this apply  today?  What does it say and mean to us?  How should my life be different tomorrow if I believe this message is relevant?
    These three steps parallel fairly well with the "three worlds':

    and in the "one way" article below,


    Here, then, below, might be one way to study three worlds.  You might follow this process for your next "Three Worlds" assignment, limiting yourself to an hour for each world.  You would not necessarily show in the assignment yo all the work from these steps (though you can), these steps are more for your study time, and the final assignment you turn in will show the fruit of this work.  It would be helpful to keep this list of 25 steps beside you as you work on your project, it can be  guideline or checklist.  Or it may be most helpful to you to u turned incopy of these 25 questions, guidelines. and enumerare your final notes just like this:



    1)Pray for wisdom and's not considered cheating! (: 

    2) If a text has not already been assigned, decide on the exact parameters of your text; yourpericope.

    3)Make a working decision on genre, and who the text seems to be addressed to.  Note if it is addressed to an individual or a group.

    4)Re-copy on sheet of paper (or word document) the text  (use NRSV, NIV or TNIV translation..Find them all in the drop-down box at Bible Gatway here) without paragraph breaks.  Ponder it for several minutes,  read it aloud several times, listen to it on audio ( and  (maybe) even begin memorizing it..  Jot any preliminary thoughts or questions about what it seems to say and mean.  Comment on  any mood, atmosphere, emotion and tone that you imagine.

    5)Rewrite/rearrange the text (or re-organize or reformat it) in a way that makes sense of the flow of thought and grammar.  Even if you aren't familiar with grammatical terminology, split apart clauses and pay attention to tense and form. Try some sentence diagramming (examples here here,here, here)
    (See Oletta Wald, "The Joy of Discovery in Bible Study" for ideas), and David Thompson, "Bible Study That Works).

    Indent new thoughts, even new phases. Make rhymes, parallelisms, and paragraphs  (obvious.   Note (maybe color code) repeated words and ideas.  New paragraphs or indentations for different speakers. Do you spot  inclusio?  chiasm?
    Maybe use this chart >> as a checklist.
    See pp 40-49 of Hauer/Young for lots of help. 
    Try a computer wordle (here) or word cloud (here) of the passage. Outline the passage.  Jot down any new insights about what the text seems to say or mean.

    6)Chart or diagram the text in any way that makes sense to you. Make particular use of arrows/circles/underlining to connect themes,  logic, words literary devices.

    7)Do you see any examples of bounded sets? Centered sets? Fuzzy sets? 

    8)Comment on the context (the sections just before and after your chosen text.  Are there any thematic or literary connections?  Repeated themes or words?
    Especially if your text is a gospel or from Samuel/Kings/Chronicles, locate any other book where the same story is told (often these are listed under paragraph headings in Bibles;  see a Gospel Parallels chart here;  you can also check and compare/contrast the accounts.  Make tentatative conclusions about your author's viewpoint and TTP (targeted theological purpose), based on what he/she does NOT include.

    9)Briefly consider the book the unit is drawn from.  Do you know of any themes or issues it is known to address?  Read the introduction to the book
     here, and check for it in the index of Hauer/Young

    10)What would be your working title to your text? 


    11)Make observations about which  book, which Testament the text is from, and anything you know about its author, historical setting, and its place in the broader biblical narrative (See index in Hauer/Young, for example).

    12)Are persons/events/places  from other biblical books (or testaments) mentioned?  If so, you might check these names places in  your class notes,  Oxford Bible notes, New Bible Dictionary. Erdmans Handbook to the Bible,  Erdmans Bible Dictionary, Worldwide Study Bible) or on Ray VanDer Laan's website (type the name or term in the search bar).  Is there intertextualty, hyperlinking? Check resources such as (tutorial here), concordances, cross-references.

    13)Read the section about your text from at least two commentaries (and be sure to quote then in your final project)  If your text is from Matthew, use the listed "helpful online resources" tab of the course website. If your text is from a book other than Matthew, you can ask Dave for suggestions.  Either way, the Bible Background Commentary(linked there) is recommended.  Don't get overwhelmed with detail, or understanding everything written, but do make note of anything that confirms or differs from your findings, and especially any iusight that is intriguing or new.

    14)Read the section about your text from "The Bible Background Commentary' (Old Testament  
    or New Testament)What "historical worlds" insights are found there? 

    15)Read any article or datafile below  from VanDer Laan  about your passage:

    1 Samuel
    2 Samuel
    1 Kings
    2 Kings 
    1 Chronicles
    2 Chronicles
    1 Corinthians
    2 Corinthians
    1 Thessalonians
    2 Thessalonians
    1 Timothy
    2 Timothy
    1 Peter
    1 John
    2 John


    16)If the text is from Matthew, incorporate any insights from class about the  historical world of Jesus day. If the text is not a gospel, how would it relate to Jesus and the gospels, particularly  the Sermon on the Mount.
    Watch this short video, and ask how your text relates to the "center" of the Bible.  Where does the story  fit?  Do other passages seem to fulfill,  supercede,  bring further revelation to it?

    17)Read the text in two more translations (one being a standard translation such as NRSV, TNIV, ESV, JB, NASV and one being a looser translation or paraphrase (The Message, The Voice, Good News Bible).  .Find them all in the drop-down box at Bible Gatway here)   Jot down any differences and insights.

    18)Summarize your thoughts, findings, feelings and questions

    19)Would you modify your working title at this point?  Add a subtitle which hints at a sub-theme.


    20). What do you know abut the "contemporary" world of the people in the text., or the people addressed in the text.  Comment on how your world/our world is different than ours, and note any problems this causes in application.  Review

    21)Remembering your":personal and social inventory,"  your results on RRWI/EPIC and the Dan Nainan "What race IS that guy?" video: in what ways does your  faith perspective, culture, class, age or gender help or hinder you in understanding/relating to/ appreciating and personalizing the text.

    22)On the left hand column of  a sheet of paper, summarize your findings, suggestions and hunches about what then text "means" to the original readers/ hearers.  Then on the right hand column, make corresponding implications for what the text might mean to us today.  How is our situation/nation/church/world the same or different? 

    23)Especially if your text is  teaching or parable, how might it be retold in  our day, with contemporary references (culture,k technology, news etc).  If the text is parable (or acted parable, like the Fig tree cursing or temple tantrum)  how might Jesus (or whoever told the parable) tell the same story to make the same point today?  (ex. who are the "Samaritans" of our day?)  How might Jesus (or whoever told the parable) tell a different  story to make the same point today? 

    24)Incorporate any insights from areas of skill and knowledge you have (maybe from different classes you have this semester),especially from disciplines that may seem unrelated (science, math,  music, computers. mechanics).  Think creatively.

    25)What is your working summary of the text;s message and meaning,and applications.
    What does it have to with a contemporary church's life?  My life?
    Craft a short devotional thought, or a brief outline of a teaching (sermon or drama) you might offer if asked to bring a  devotional or message on this text in a church setting.