Tracing 101

46 is the earliest (nearly) complete manuscrip...


Tom Steller wrote,

Because the Bible alone is the inerrant, infallible authority for what we are to believe about God and how he wants us to live, it is no surprise that we bring a lot of baggage to the text. By nature we don’t like the thought of absolute authority residing in anyone outside of ourselves. What if God commands me to do something I don’t want to do? Or what if he portrays himself in a way that differs from the way I think he should be? This would lead to a tremendous pressure to import our own meanings into the text rather than content ourselves with the author’s intended meaning wherever it leads us.

Because this is true, we (all christians) should make it our life’s aim to rightly divide God’s word. It will not do to believe what sounds good to us, or what we hear others say, for Christian faith is not only one of community, but it is also a personal faith. We each must be in God’s word every day; studying it, memorizing it, living by it. This is the foundation of the Christian faith: to know the Lord Jesus Christ, who is revealed to us in his word.

One helpful tool to inductively study God’s word is called Biblical Tracing.

Dr. Schreiner recently asked me to grade for his Romans class, and when I looked at the syllabus I realized there would be quite a bit of tracing involved. However, I am fairly new to the concept, so I began reading up on it and tracing passages to become better familiar with the method. I can now say that I believe it to be an extremely helpful initial step in Biblical study, and one I would recommend any Christian to utilize.

Below is a video I did explaining and illustrating this Bible study method.. It is a way to trace an argument through passages of Scripture which allows for a visual representation of that argument. In doing so it requires you to think carefully about a passage and the flow of its argument. This is extrememly important as many erros made when it comes to Biblical interpretations arise out of “proof texting” rather than listening to the context and the argument a particular author is making.

FYI, feel free to skip through the pauses and goofy transistions. I was playing around with a new app called educreations. It’s really pretty neat!

Here are some further resources to help in this regarding, including the ones I mentioned in the video:

Biblearc: This is a very helpful website that explains many of the concepts of arcing/tracing. If you can dish out 10 bucks a year they also have a really great app that makes arcing very user friendly. If you don’t care to learn arcing or utilize their app, you can still watch the tutorial videos to help you get a better grasp of the different relationships.

Tom Schreiner: My PhD supervisor, Dr. Tom Schreiner, as written a wonderful little book called Interpreting the Pauline Epistles in which he has a chapter on tracing. It explains the method in detail and provides several helpful examples. You can download the chapter free here.

John Piper: Piper has also written a book detailing this method, although he utilizes “arcing.” His book however explains the different relationships between propositions and so it will be helpful in that regard, whether or not you are interested in arcing. Here is the pdf.

Also, if you check back with me every so often I’ll try to post a similar video of a weekly tracing. There won’t be any introduction, a walk through whatever text I do that week. If there is a particular passage you want to see traced, let me know and I’d be happy to do that as well.

I hope that you have found this to be beneficial and that you see the benefits of a method like tracing. The closer we read and think through God’s word the more it will become a part of our daily lives. Happy study!

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