How should one best read the Bible? There’s no easy answer. The only readily apparent response to the question is in what not to do—namely, trying to read from cover to cover, from Genesis to Revelation, with no greater goal than completing the task for the sake of completing it. Like any great American road trip, reading the Bible is more about the journey than the destination—finishing is secondary to understanding the lessons and insights in its books. One could argue that reading the Bible is never a task to be “finished” at all.
To read the Bible, specifically the high register of the King James Version, you need a plan. When it comes to study methods for the Bible, you have many to choose from. Today, we’ll be taking a closer look at the verse-mapping method of Bible study, an approach that best suits visual learners as they take deep dives into select Bible verses.
What You’ll Need To Get Started
Besides your copy of the Bible, you’ll need to stock up on a few other supplies. Have a pen and paper handy, preferably in a spiral notebook—you’ll be mapping more than one verse, after all, and you’ll want to keep all your work together. In addition to your basic pen in blue or black, grab some colored markers or pencils and a highlighter. Color-coding counts in mapping verses, and you’ll want various colors at your disposal. And in our digital world, resist the urge to attempt this on your tablet. Writing longhand will help you retain what you learn and discover through verse mapping. You may also want a wide-margin KJV Bible to aid in your annotations.
Selecting Verses To Map
You needn’t start at Genesis 1:1 in mapping verses. Start with verses that have been favorites of yours for their beauty or personal relevance. From there, start fanning out to more challenging verses, such as those you’ve always wanted to better understand or those that seem so difficult that you’ve ignored them altogether to this point. You may even wish to pray for guidance.
Doing the Work
Begin mapping your verse by writing it out on a piece of paper. From there, go over the verse one word at a time and think about which words you would like to explore further. As you analyze each word, finding its synonyms and antonyms, and exploring the original Hebrew or Greek to understand the translation, map out your observations on the paper. After diagramming the verse with these insights, sum up your findings in some notes beneath the verse map.
A New Approach
The verse-mapping method of Bible study may change the way you read Scripture, concentrating less on sheer page-turning and more on getting the most from each word. If you feel as though you’ve been trying to read too much in each study session at the expense of retention, try verse mapping to see whether this slower and more thoughtful approach works for you.