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When I study the scriptures the methods I employ vary by topic, time I have available, and reason for studying. I mainly rely on(not in order of importance or of usage):

  • external sources (non-scripture) from others within my denomination such as sermons and other insights found on blogs
  • discussing with friends and family
  • verse breakdown, such as using Strong's concordance or another book by a scholar
  • scriptural backing: how do other scriptures tie in, support, or clarify what I'm studying
  • personal prayer for general understanding, and if I am looking for a particular answer to a question

Then I often record my findings in the margins of my scriptures, so that I can find/reference my study later on.

What methods have you found that are effective? Do other people use scriptures to keep their study notes?

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  • Noteworthy that you only look to external sources 'within your own denomination' and you only discuss matters with 'friends and family'. My study of the scripture is far wider than that.
    – Nigel J
    Sep 20 at 9:14
  • @NigelJ so provide an answer. Discussing scripture personal study topics (not the gospel) with strangers to doesn't fit with my personality.
    – depperm
    Sep 20 at 10:34
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After being disappointed many times when friends, families, lay church leaders (such as small group leaders and Sunday school teachers), and non-academic Christian books quote Bible verses out of context to make their point, or even worse, peddle their viewpoints or even doctrines (!) that border on "heresies", my primary study method has been read the whole book in one sitting (Matthew, Romans, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, etc.) to provide context.

In studying Scriptures book by book, I use the following tools:

  1. Use several commentaries at once, gaining insights from their Introduction and Outlines for giving me a solid book-context and to be aware of issues that are still open for debate.
  2. Consult a Bible background textbooks or encyclopedias such as the famous 8-volume evangelical IVP "Black" Bible Dictionaries Series which includes a synopsis of the latest evangelical research done for a book.
  3. Bible dictionaries, Maps, and other background dictionaries for giving an overview of a place name, a synopsis of a Biblical figure, cultural artifact (food, clothing, animal, etc.), geographic references, illustrations of tabernacle, temple, priestly clothing, a prophet's vision, etc.
  4. Scholarly books written about a Bible book, usually to advance a scholar's theory of a particular interpretation of the book (i.e. using narrative criticism, etc.)

To organize all the above resources I use the Logos Layouts feature, creating one layout per Bible book so I can immediately open all resources related to Hebrews, for example.

For taking notes, I plan to use the Logos Notes feature, which provides an easy way to organize hundreds of snippets tied to a verse / passage, which then show up as flags in a Bible which you open in Logos. You can collect those snippets in a notebook and you can have multiple notebooks. They all can show up as flags.

But sometimes I just use Microsoft OneNote app, very popular among college students, which organize your notes in a representation like a 3-ring binder which have colored section (with section title), and then you can add a page to a section with a page title. Each binder becomes a OneNote file which can be synced through Microsoft cloud so you can easily add to from any device (Android, iPhone, PC, Mac, Browser, etc.) using the many editions of OneNote (full fledged Office 365 program, a Windows app, a mobile app, or from a browser).

Having notes grouped by book help me keep all verses in book context and also date context (because I have one file per study session). Those become my raw materials that I can revisit years later.

I don't write my notes in the Bible because I don't use physical Bibles anymore. Using programs like Logos is far more convenient as I can easily compare several translations and have Logos display my notes in any translation I open.

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