Reading Carefully Part 1

Lesson 2
Reading Carefully Part 1


Today we will discuss reading sentences carefully. Next week will expand outwardly to paragraphs and discourses. I like how Duvall and Hays began this chapter by using figurative imagery. It interests me because using figurative imagery is often used by the biblical writers to get their point across to the reader. Figurative imagery employees our emotions. As a side note to this lesson on reading sentences carefully, two common types of Figurative imagery used in Scripture are: similes and metaphors.

Many people have trouble distinguishing between simile and metaphor. A glance at their Latin and Greek roots offers a simple way of telling these two closely-related figures of speech apart. Simile comes from the Latin word similis (meaning “similar, like”), which seems fitting, since the comparison indicated by a simile will typically contain the words as or like. Metaphor, on the other hand, comes from the Greek word metapherein (“to transfer”), which is also fitting, since a metaphor is used in place of something. “My love is like a red, red rose” is a simile, and “love is a rose” is a metaphor.1

Duvall and Hays began this chapter using the analogy of a young man reading a love letter. This tactic really worked on me because when Darlene and I became engaged to be married she was in Louisiana and I was at Ft. Knox in Kentucky. Then, in our second year of marriage we were separated again by a continent, and the Pacific Ocean for eight months; she was in Texas and I was in Korea. I read and re-read her letters in the way that Duvall and Hays describe. So, when they tell me that I should study over Scripture the way that I studied Darlene’s letters when I was in Korea, my emotions help me to understand what they mean.

The first thing that we are to do in our journey into God’s word is to observe as many details about the text as possible. Duvall and Hays tell us to refrain from interpreting and applying the text during this stage. At this point we are asking, “What does the text say?” Not, “What does the text mean?”2

Things to Look for in Sentences
  1. Repetition of words – Look for words and phrases that repeat.
  2. Contrasts – Look for ideas, individuals, and/or items contrasted with each other.
  3. Comparisons – Look for ideas, individuals, and/or items compared with each other.
  4. Lists – Whenever the text mentions more than two items, identify it as a list.
  5. Cause and Effect – Look for cause-and-effect relationships.
  6. Figure of Speech – Identify expressions that convey an image using words in a sense other than the normal literary sense.
  7. Conjunctions – Notice terms that join units: and, but, for, therefore. Note what they are connecting.
  8. Verbs – Note active, passive past, present, etc.
  9. Pronouns – Identify the antecedent for each pronoun.3

The first step in the interpretive journey is to make as many observations about the text as possible. This list of nine things that Duvall and Hays gave us to look for are not exhaustive, but they are a really good start to begin digging deeply into the word. Read the text several times and observe the details. When you do, write down the details that you have observed. Every sentence in the Bible is rich with details, some more than others; therefore, I encourage you to dig deeply into every sentence at the beginning of your study.4

1 Metaphor. Merriam-Webster. Accessed October 04, 2017.
2 J. Scott Duvall and J. Daniel Hays, Journey Into God’s Word(Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008), 23.
3 J. Scott Duvall and J. Daniel Hays, Grasping God’s word: A Hands-On Approach to Reading, Interpreting, and Applying the Bible(Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012), 62-63.
4 Ibid.