In this unit we have suggested numerous things to look for while reading the Bible. We have also encouraged you to read the Bible as closely and with as much interest as a lovesick teenager would read a love letter. We also suggested that you go over and over and over the text, looking for details and connections, in the same fashion as Agassiz’s student observed his haemulon. The ultimate goal, remember, is to hear correctly and to grasp firmly what God is saying to us through his Word.
According to H. Hendricks, “A pen is a mental crowbar.” It is important that you mark these observations or write them down. Develop your own style of making observations that is legible and understandable. For example, you can mark “cause” with a big “C” and draw a connecting line to the “effect,” which you could mark with (you guessed it!) a big “E.” Consider using similar notations for other features that you observe. Try photocopying and enlarging the text you are studying. Work on the photocopy sheet so that you do not completely destroy your Bible. Then fill the photocopy sheet, both the text and the margins, with all the observations that you can find. Some examples are listed above, but feel free to develop your own style.
Keep in mind that we are not trying to interpret the text yet. The interpretation phase comes later. This first phase—and a critical one—is that of observing or seeing. We are merely asking the question, “What does the text say?” So, for now, stay in this phase. Try to see all you can. Later in the book we will move on to interpretation (What does the text mean?) and application (What do I do about the text?).