As you know, when you are studying the Bible Inductively, its pretty important to ask good questions. In his work on Methodical Bible Study, Robert Traina brilliantly categorizes all the questions that must be asked. Rather than try to add anything to what he has done so comprehensively, we can just think of all the questions as either being Factual questions or Implication questions. Because we tend to automatically ask questions about things the text isn’t saying while reading what the text is saying, controlling the types of questions asked helps us to look at what the text is saying.
- For instance when Paul says to the Corinthians, ‘I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you.’ The first question shouldn’t be “What traditions is Paul speaking of?” Only because that isn’t a question that the text is prompting us to ask – it’s not a question about what the text is saying, but what the text is omitting.
So the idea is to keep your questions contextual. Asking Who, What, When, Where, and How are all questions that get at the facts. Why questions are speculative, so stay away from them.
Implication questions are different than factual in that they get at what the author is implying by what he says. This is not asking questions about what is omitted from the text. This is adding up what the author is saying to make a specific point that is under the surface. If someone said to me, “Inductive Bible Study is complicated, you wouldn’t understand because you’re an American,” it becomes immediately clear what they are saying – Americans are stupid people. We understand implications by looking at what the text is saying and simply ascertaining what the significance behind what the authors language could be.
- For instance when Paul says to the Corinthians, ‘I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you. But I want you to understand.’ Clearly we can see that Paul is contrasting what they do understand and what they don’t. The implication must be that they are keeping the traditions that Paul passed down to them without even understanding the reasons behind them.
So there it is. Two Categories of questions to barrage the text with. This will be a tremendous help for you I’m sure.