The goal of the manuscript method is to help you see the book being studied as clearly as possible and understand its purpose and how each and every one of its parts supports that purpose. The way we achieve this is to transform a Bible book into a manuscript and with colors and lines discover and emphasize important elements.
The Manuscript method can be explained in 10 major steps.
Step 1. Text preparation
Step 2. First reading
· Step 3. Verify sentences
· Step 4. Division into paragraphs
· Step 5. Coloring repeated words and phrases
· Step 6. Communication units
· Step 7. Text Relationship
· Step 8. Knowledge of the author and recipient
· Step 9. Text Interpretation
· Step 10. Meaning Today
Step 1: Preparation of the text
The development of this method requires some changes to our text format. We conserve original text and remove all distractions.
11 Select the book of the Bible you want to study AND the translation. (A word for word translation like ESV or NASB is easier to use with dictionaries, concordances or other research books later on.)
1.2 Copy or transcribe the biblical text in a format with wide margins, double spacing. Take out any headers and numbers that indicate chapters, verses.
1.3 Print the text.
Step 2: First Reading
The first approach is to read the text. Read several times to understanding the passage better. Read the text several times.
2.1 Read the manuscript aloud.
2.2 Describe how it feels to read the text of the Bible and make comments both positive and negative. Try to answer the following questions:
Could I understand better without chapters, verses and headings?
What difference did I notice in this reading?
What is the tone or emotion in which the author writes?
2.3 Write down your impression after reading the book for the first time. What could be the author's purpose in writing? You'll notice how this concept changes as you study.
2.4 Read the entire manuscript several times.
2.5 Write down any questions you have about text- Don`t try to find an answer to a question at this time.
Step 3: Verify sentences
Make a large ball every time there is a period (.), thus indicating the termination point of a grammatical sentence. By definition a sentence begins with a capital letter and ends with a period, (or sometimes ends with a question mark.) Remember the smallest communication element is a complete grammatical sentence.
Compare the number of verses with the marked circles. Did you find a difference? How do you explain the difference? Verses began to appear around 1000 ADand were accepted as we have now about 1250 AD. So what was the purpose of adding these numbers?
Step 4: Division into paragraphs
It's time to start working with text. Dividing the text into sections helps us better manage the ideas and themes of the text.
4.1 Separate the book into paragraphs. Separate paragraphs with a horizontal line that goes from one side of the sheet to the other. (A paragraph must end with a period. A sentence cannot be divided in two separate paragraphs.)
4.2 Write a title for each paragraph using the same words that were in paragraph (no more than 4 words).
Step 5: Coloring repeated words and phrases
It's time for a researcher`s joy. It`s time to observe carefully.
5.1 Begins to mark keywords that repeat, synonyms, concepts or phrases. Choose a color for each group of words, for example synonyms, separate them using geometric figures. Feel free to mix and match colors and shapes. For example, green circles for hope, black triangles for anger, yellow for warnings, blue double underlined for power.
5.2 Make an index or key for the words and their accompanying colors and shapes so you don’t forget the indication chosen at the beginning.
Step 6: Text Relationship
6.1 Mark the conjunctions.
Conjunctions are words that link words, phrases, or clauses and establish hierarchical relationships between them. A conjunction does not have grammatical meaning; its meaning is acquired in relationships with the words that it connects.
There are two main classes of conjunctions: coordinating and subordinating.
a. Coordinating conjunctions join words, phrases or clauses of EQUAL grammatical rank, such as: and, but, or, nor, for, yet.
Courtesy and kindness characterize a gentleman. (conjunction joining words)
He was a good man, but his goodness did not save him. (conjunction joining independent clauses)
He is your friend in prosperous times and in perilous times. (conjunction joining prepositional phrases)
b. These coordinating conjunctions are used in pairs: either--or, neither—nor, both—and, not only—but also.
The students are either learning lines or constructing scenery.
c. Subordinating conjunctions join clauses of UNEQUAL grammatical rank; that is, they join dependent clauses to independent clauses, such as: after, although, as, as if, as much as, as long as, as soon as, because, before, if, in order that, than, that, though, unless, until, when, whenever, where, wherever, whether, while.
Because we believe in Christ, we have eternal life.
6.2 Show cross references. A cross reference refers to an element that appears elsewhere in the book. Use arrows to connect these ideas.
6.3 Look for editorial characteristics the author uses and his reason for doing so. Every author has his particular way of writing. When we recognize these literary characteristics it helps to understand the text easier.
Step 7: Division communication units
Separate the book into communication units.
A communication unit by definition contains all the communication of the idea. If we interpret a paragraph without taking into account all the communication unit is like listening to only part of a conversation. We may know what the subject of the conversation is, but we surely don`t know all the details. Therefore, we can get the wrong impression of the conversational topic.
Separate the paragraphs dealing with the same issue with double lines. That is, add an extra line to the line you used to indicate paragraphs. This graphic indicates your communication unit.
Step 8: Knowledge of the author and recipient
To interpret a message correctly we need information about the writer and the recipient. Sometimes the only source of information is written in your hands.
8.1 Investigate what you know about the author and the recipients using only the information that is in this letter/book.
8.2 Make a list of phrases, words or types of statements that help you know the writer and the situation in which the recipients find themselves.
8.3 Answer the following questions before further analysis of the text: What could be the purpose of writing this letter? This is a preliminary approach to the deep study.
8.4 External Context: Here you can search dictionaries and commentaries about the place and culture of the author and recipients.
Step 9: Interpretation of text or the meaning to their original recipients
At this time our manuscript is ready to start with the interpretation of the text.
9.1 Now take the first communication unit, analyze it and think of the message with the observations and interpretations. Record your findings on the same page to the left of the text.
9.2 Do the same thing with the rest of the units.
9.3 Perform the following question. How do the communication units support the purpose of the letter? If it does not support it, look for another purpose.
9.4 These questions are a good guide to keep in mind
a..How did the author see the situation, that led him to think, feel and write in this way?
b..What was the condition of the recipients and who are they?
c. What changes in thinking or actions were recommended?
d. What biblical truth is being taught?
9.5 Write an answer in the margin to all the questions that arose in 2.5.
9.6 Ask the following questions and write your comments in the margins:
How important is this book? If it had not been written, what would have been missing in the Bible?
Is that important to you, too? Why?
Step 10: Meaning Today
In what way is the situation of the recipients the same or similar to mine?
What are the beliefs that change due to the argument of this book?
What attitudes do I have that are not consistent with what the author presents?
The final question naturally arises: How do you respond to this message? Write it in your notes and share what you learned to a friend.
out of context