Interested in learning how to Verse Map with a group of people? Join my Facebook Event July 10th – 24th, 2017.
Following the Write Call isn’t just about writing the book God calls you to write, it is also about going and growing deeper into His Word.
As a Christian Fiction author, I want my writing to bring others closer to God while entertaining them, but how can I do that if I am not in God’s word and really soaking it up.
So to help you and me be better stewards of God’s gift, I am going to propose a new (to me at least) way of studying your Bible. Kristy Cambron introduced me to this great concept of #VerseMapping, and I want to introduce it to you, too.
What is Verse Mapping?
Verse mapping is an in-depth Bible study tool that takes you deeper into God’s word to look at a verse’s meaning and context. It is not the only way to study, but it does help you look at a verse in its context of the passage and history and apply it to your own walk with Christ.
Kristy Cambron creates a more in-depth definition: Verse-Mapping is a method of studying the historical context, transliteration, translation, connotation, and theological framework of a verse in the Bible.
The Two Types
In my preparation for the verse mapping event, I found two styles of verse mapping: the quick and easy index card method and the more in-depth notebook method.
The Index Card Method
This can be done pretty quick compared to the other more in-depth method. Just grab an index card, your favorite Bible/app, and a dictionary. You can carry it with you for easy reference throughout the day/week.
- Personalize it. Cross out words like “you” and “we” and replace it with your name.
- Highlight or circle words that jump out.
- Study the words you highlighted.
- Cross reference. Read other translations for deeper meaning.
- Ask God to reveal new truth.
Examples from the Internet:
The Notebook Method of Verse Mapping
Verse mapping is a Bible Study Tool. It is not the only way to study, but it does help you look at a verse in its context of the passage and history and apply it to your own walk with Christ.
Creating the Verse Mapping Toolbox:
With the right resources, you will be amazed at what you can learn. Here are my recommendations for creating your own toolbox:
- A good Study Bible in whatever translation you prefer. Study Bibles provide excellent footnotes, introductions, and cross-references to deepen your study.
- A good Bible Dictionary. Just like a real dictionary, you can look up certain words or people of importance and easily grab the historical context.
- A Strong’s Concordance or another tool for examining the Hebrew or Greek transliterations. www.blueletterbible.org is a great resource but it does take a little getting used to.
- A journal for writing your explorations down on.
- Highlighters, markers, or pens for color-coding, decorating, or just bringing important ideas to the forefront.
How do you verse map?
Verse mapping can be as complicated or as simple as you want it to be. This is about a journey of growing closer to God and understanding His Word. So to put it simply, there is no one way to verse map. This is my general outline that I hope you will take and adapt to your own preferences.
Note: I do not always do every step below. Depending how much time I have I may leave out various steps, especially depending on how familiar I am with the context of the verse. Make it fit for you. The most important thing is to dive and go deeper in your relationship with Christ.
My Basic Steps
It is by the Holy Spirit we gain understanding and without Him this endeavor becomes fruitless. Every time you sit down to study, pray and invite the Holy Spirit to guide you in wisdom and understanding.
“But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit – the Father will send Him in My name – will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have told you.” John 14:26 (HCSB)
- Pick a Verse and write it down.
Choose a Bible verse of importance to you. Needs some ideas? Choose a verse from a devotional, a pre-made Bible study, or even recommendations from a friend.
- Compare several translations.
Choose at least 2 other translations of the same verse and write them down. Bible translations fall on a spectrum, ranging from Word for Word translations (literal word for word translation from the original Greek/Hebrew text) and Thought for Thought translations (contextual meaning is translated). I like to choose verses from both sides and the middle of this comparison chart.
(Image below from Christianbook.com.)
- Examine the text.
Focus on those verses. Highlight and words or phrases that stick out to you and look up the definition or the Greek/Hebrew translation.
When you look at multiple translations, it makes it easy to see differences in word choices, common themes, and phrases. Then you can dive into your concordance in the Hebrew/Greek and really learn the depth of those words because the neat thing about Hebrew and Greek is most of their words have multiple meanings, which means some things are lost in translation. Dig deep and learn.
Need a resource for looking at the Greek and Hebrew? I love https://www.blueletterbible.org/.
- Look at the context.
This is where you look at the entire passage or chapter to determine how this verse fits into the context of the Bible. Remember the five W’s and the sneaky H from your school days? Yeah, they’re back. (And just in case you forgot, they are: Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How.)
Here are some questions to get you started:
- To whom is this verse directed toward?
- What is going on in this and the surrounding verses?
- What is going on historically at the time of this writing?
- Why is this being said? Why does it need to be said?
- Cross References
Honestly, this is my favorite part. If you are using a study Bible, it often has cross references indicated in the margins or footnotes. Apps often have notations that you can click on that will guide you to various cross-references. These give insight into how the verse fits into the rest of the Bible and sometimes God guides you in a different direction than you intended to go.
This one is a biggie. What is the point of studying God’s word if you do not write it on your heart. Reading and studying God’s word is great unless you do not apply it. Then all that work you did becomes fruitless.
Here are a few suggestions for application:
- Summarize what you learned about the verse in a few sentences.
- Rewrite the verse in your own words (changing the “we”, “you”, etc. to your name).
- Make a plan of action for the verse.
- Turn the verse into a prayer.
- Create an image for your verse.
“Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. Because if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man looking at his own face in a mirror. For he looks at himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.” James 1:23-25 (HCSB)
These are just the basics. If you would like resources or templates, visit the Verse Mapping Resources Page.