Asking Questions of Your Text
These questions will stimulate the exercise of listening carefully to the text. Not all questions will be pertinent to your text, and some will remain unanswerable.
- Who wrote this text? What can you learn about the background of the writer?
- To whom did they write it, in what circumstances, and for what purpose?
- Is there a historical-cultural issue in your passage? If so, how does understanding the cultural reference shed light on the meaning of the text?
Listening to the Text
- Are there any textual-critical difficulties you need to investigate?
- What is the text about?
- What is the genre of the text? Does it mix genres?
- How does your reading of the original languages shed light on the text?
- Does a discourse analysis of the passage reveal any questions about the grammar or syntax of the passage?
- What key words need to have their meaning clarified?
- What literary structure and devices does your author employ (e.g., irony, imagery, metaphor)?
- What textual clues define your text?
- What do the surrounding pericopes mean for the delineation and interpretation of your passage? What role does your text play in the book (or collection of books) in which it sits?
- If the author has written other biblical books, how do they shed light on your text?
- Does your text allude to or explicitly reference another passage of Scripture? Does your text allude to or explicitly reference an Old Testament text? Is your text referenced or alluded to by another passage? Are there key people, places, things, or themes in your text that are also found elsewhere in Scripture?