Hey Cameron,

Hope you’re doing well.  The Lord is good… AND faithful. The Lord certainly has tremendous plans for you and your family.  Everyone knows you are chomping at the bit to jump back into ministry where you will be able to use your gifts and serve the Lord more completely with your life.  Therefore it seemed wise to give you more to fill your time. One of the characteristics of Inductive Study is that it is absolutely consuming.  When it is done properly it can take time, and speed it by so quickly that you don’t even know where it has gone.  Therefore it is imperative that you have all the tools necessary to make sure your time spent is as fruitful as possible.Just thought it might be a good time to go over some things that we tend to overlook in our Inductive Bible Studies. One of the important areas to consider in the observation stage is the Atmosphere of the passage.  We spoke of positive and negative atmosphere, and truly I thought that would be enough but as I was considering the energy you invest in study it seemed like you would benefit from preventing this area of study from being fruitless. That is to say, if we can cover the details of ‘Atmosphere’ then you’re time spent attempting to ascertain what it is in the passage and then how it pertains to anything at all will not be a waste.

Let’s look at atmosphere.  True, we are attempting to discover the MOOD of the pericope, whether its negative or positive but more than that.Remember it is not uncommon to have different atmospheres in paragraphs that are next to each other, and consequently what captures our attention will be the times where we find entire books with a positive atmosphere in every paragraph save one.  When the author wants to draw our attention to a certain passage of scripture, one of the methods He employs is using atmosphere to point something out.Obviously, this kind of example of the use of atmosphere to focus the readers attention on a certain paragraph is very effective.  Attention is immediately given to the third paragraph. So the atmosphere has given us a great bit of motivation to find out what the terms and structure might be indicating in the middle paragraph.However, it must be stated at this point that there are quite a few more atmospheres that are presented in scripture outside of positive and negative.  You most likely have already experienced that fact if you have been investigating the atmosphere of you’re passages and have been unable to qualify them as truly positive or negative.  You’ll think, “Maybe neutral is a mood.” 

Robert Traina sheds some light on this in his book Methodical Bible Study. Traina offers a few examples of types of atmospheres that dominate a passage

  • Joy
  • Urgency
  • Confident assurance

Obviously there are scores more, but the idea is that descriptions like this help to further your investigation of the material under analysis.  If the atmosphere that dominates a passage has been determined to be ‘Anger,’ then scrutinizing that description may help reveal some amazing things about the paragraph that is dominated by anger as well as the paragraphs around it that layout the context in which it is found. 

Your next problem which obviously follows this is encountering a paragraph that feature different atmospheres.  There is an easy remedy for this.  In our study of structure we come across a law called the ‘law of proportion.’  When the proportion of material in a book or passage is clearly given to a certain subject it is obvious that the author wants His readers to take careful note of that.  When a passage contains the repetition of words like ‘hate,’ ‘anger,’ ‘wrath,’ ‘frustration,’ & ‘madness,’ you do well to conclude that particular passage to have an atmosphere of Anger.  When the same passage has other words like ‘happy,’ & ‘joy,’ examine how much of the passage is devoted to anger and how much is devoted to happiness.  If you find a passage that is proportionately more devoted to Sadness than to Joy, although the vocabulary clearly presents both moods within the same paragraph – Examine the amount of material presenting each and make a good conclusion.  If a passage is 80% Anger and 20% Joy then it is easy to determine the conclusion.  True, it is not always that simple, but this is just one of the ways that the Inductive Bible Study consumes time like its going out of style.

Blessings brother, Leep