TIP of the day: Plain meaning/ analytic reading - text flow diagrams

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Posted: Wed, Feb 10 2016 4:56 PM

As I had several posts on block diagrams and as several Logos resources provide their own directions for creating various forms of block diagrams, this post is simply going to show examples of different versions of text flow/block diagram/mechanical layout/grammatical outline/colon analysis or other phrase level diagrams that can the made in Logos or commonly owned software.

1. One of the most important and unappreciated view is sense-lines, the unit of lines in some of the more important Bible manuscripts. This is the format of many lectionaries.

Ash Wednesday
Lectionary: 219

Reading 1 Jl 2:12-18

Even now, says the LORD,
return to me with your whole heart,
with fasting, and weeping, and mourning;
Rend your hearts, not your garments,
and return to the LORD, your God.
For gracious and merciful is he,
slow to anger, rich in kindness,
and relenting in punishment.
Perhaps he will again relent
and leave behind him a blessing,
Offerings and libations
for the LORD, your God.

Blow the trumpet in Zion!
proclaim a fast,
call an assembly;
Gather the people,
notify the congregation;
Assemble the elders,
gather the children
and the infants at the breast;
Let the bridegroom quit his room
and the bride her chamber.
Between the porch and the altar
let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep,
And say, “Spare, O LORD, your people,
and make not your heritage a reproach,
with the nations ruling over them!
Why should they say among the peoples,
‘Where is their God?’”

Then the LORD was stirred to concern for his land
and took pity on his people.

2. a basic block diagram with annotation emphasizing structural elements.

3. Block diagram with outline comments

4. Logos bilingual block diagram

5. Block diagram with rhetorical function i.e. similar in purpose to the discourse analysis within Logos.

6. A Logos example.

7. an unusual annotated diagram emphasizing key concept analysis

8. A typical arcing example

9. Sample done in Logos

10. block diagram with notes done in Word

11. A graphic organizer single purpose layout.

12. Rather straightforward variant of block diagram.

13. Cantillation based diagram

14. A horizontal block layout

15. Manual, marked up block diagram variant.

16. A standard block diagram.

17. A form of arcing easily done in Logos.

18. An interesting micro-diagram - phrase/colon level.

19. A block diagram with comments.

20. A doodle style analysis.

21. Some layouts are special purpose e.g. chiasms rather than strictly textual. These technically belong under "figures of speech" but because they show the structure of the text are worth noting here.

22. An uncommon layout referred to as "exegetical".

23. A hybrid of a Reed-Kellogg sentence diagram and a phrase level diagram. This has some broad usefulness as it adds some of the advantages of tree diagrams into the RK format.

24. A multilingual diagram which can be useful in comparing the basic structure of various editions or translations.

25. Flow, color coding and comments added

26. Flow oriented presentation of layout.

27. Block diagram with connectors and comments.

28. from Thurén, Lauri. Argument and Theology in 1 Peter: The Origins of Christian Paraenesis. Edited by Stanley E. Porter. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press Ltd, 1995. an argument oriented form:

29. a clause structure oriented layout from Michaels, J. Ramsey. Interpreting the Book of Revelation. Vol. 7. Guides to New Testament Exegesis. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1992.

30. A mechanical layout with explanation in table format.

A Mechanical Layout of Scripture from Seeking Our God blog:

Matt and Rachel Taylor:

What is a mechanical layout? A mechanical layout involves the rewriting of the text in a form that will reveal the grammatical structure of that text.

“There are to marks which characterize the efficient observer:  awareness and thoroughness.  He is not mechanical in his observation.  Rather he is alive to the contents of a passage.  He perceives, he actually sees.  And he sees all the components of a passage.  He takes nothing for granted.  He disciplines himself to absorb consciously the entire unit.  He marks attentively each term, because he knows that any artist who is worthy of the name makes a thoughtful and purposeful selection of terminology.  He also notes carefully the relations and interrelations between terms.  He keeps his eyes open to the smallest as well as the largest connections.  He pays close attention to the general literary form and atmosphere of a passage.  In brief, all the constituents of a Biblical unit become part of the consciousness of the proficient observer.”[1]

The mechanical layout is a phrase-by-phrase chart of the text to show the grammatical relationships. To begin, copy the text phrase by phrase, placing independent clauses (complete subject/predicate constructions) toward the left, with the subordinate phrases more to the right. Usually set the connecting words (and, but, etc.) off to themselves and line up ideas that are equal in weight.

The mechanical layout is made up of the following components:

  1. The main statements of a paragraph (declarations, questions, or commands) should be placed at the extreme left-hand margin of the page.
  2. Each line contains only one main statement and its modifiers, provided — there is not more than one modifier in each clause AND the modifier is not of extraordinary length.
  3. Subordinate clauses and phrases are placed below the lines of the main statement to which they refer. In doing this, think about “Does this statement amplify or expand the statement above it, or does it begin a new thought?”
  4. Two or more modifiers, including subordinate clauses or phrases or plural subjects, are usually written beneath that on which they depend, unless they are so brief they can be retained conveniently in the original order of the text.
  5. Coordinate clauses (clauses connected by and, but, either, or, neither, nor, and for) are generally regarded as containing main statements and are therefore placed as far left as the statement that they are coordinating. NOTE: Lists of names, qualities, or actions should be tabulated in vertical columns for the sake of clarity.

You don’t have to be a grammarian to do this, by the way, but a brush-up on some basics will help, especially if you had to think hard to remember what a subject and a predicate are. A Bible with paragraphs clearly marked will also help keep the chunks bite-sized.

Stripping away all the details on the right side of the page, you can see the main thrust of the text.

[1] Robert Traina, “Methodical Bible Study,” (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1980), 79.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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