When I was figuring out how to study the Bible, I kept running across the term “archaeology.” Shovels and dirt popped into my mind! In Bible study, archaeology means digging out information. I thought it was weird, but it got my attention.
Archaeology is often the first step when doing inductive Bible study. Inductive Bible study follows the pattern of Observation, Interpretation, and Application. In the Observation step, you look at the facts. This is where archaeology comes into play.
Much like excavating for ancient artifacts, archaeology in Bible study aims to uncover keywords or phrases so that themes, main points, and the tone of the passage become more noticeable.
How does it work? You read the text (which is a passage of Scripture that has been printed on paper separate from your tiny print Bible!) in double-spaced, 12pt font, and when you see certain words, you color code them according to your Archaeology Key, using colored pencils. After the passage has been color-coded, you then make a list of 5 W and H questions (who, what, when, where, why and how).
Here’s are examples: (Key) With a green pencil, put a box around any words that indicate time (dates, events, “when” words, etc). After combing through the assigned text and boxing all the time words in green, you’re acutely aware of time, whether it’s to point out a length of time Jesus spent with certain people or the connection between one chapter and another. (5W/H question) When: in the evening; it was dark; after disciples had rowed 3 or 4 miles, Jesus caught up with them in the boat (walked on water)
When I first saw Archaeology Keys, I scoffed. Takes too much time, I thought.
And then I tried it.
All I can say is . . . wow. I still can’t believe how much color coding certain words open your eyes. Grabbing a colored pencil and hunting for words is like an adventure. Verses I took for granted have new depth. The 5W/H questions force me to look for answers and be specific in gathering information. Though this is objective and not interpretive, the learning at this level is astounding.
When I wrote my Bible study on the gospel of John, I designed an Archaeology Key to fit the study. Even though it takes a few minutes to comb through the passage and code the words, the end result is worth it!
Give this method a try and see how you like it! If you’d like a sample of mine, leave a comment and I’ll get it to you!