Sunday, September 21, 2008

How to do a Bible character study

Character Studies

When studying a Bible story, we meet many characters whom we must get to know if we are to understand the story well.

Questions to ask when meeting a new Bible character:
1. What are the key verses used to describe this person?
2. What is this character doing when he or she is first mentioned?
3. Is this description a description of the person’s total personality or just a description of the character at a stressful moment in his life?
4. What words do the Bible writer use to describe this person?
5. Can we make any assumptions about this person’s moral behavior?
6. Do you think the Bible writer wants us to like or dislike this person?
7. Does this person’s goodness or moral behavior matter in this instance?
8. Does this person’s faith matter in this instance?
9. Does this person speak? If so, what are the exact words?
10. What does this person need?
11. Who does this person look to for help? God? Satan? Other humans?
12. Are there any commands, instructions, or promises in the Bible that this person is hoping on or is violating?
13. Is this person mentioned in another chapter or in another Bible book?
14. What is the end result of this person’s life? Does this person succeed because of faith? Does he perish for lack of wisdom, faith, or goodness?
15. Be honest, if you met someone like this in your life, what would you think of this person?
16. What do extra-Biblical sources think of this character?
17. If good comes to this person, does he deserve it? And why?
18. If evil comes to this person, does he deserve it?
19. Is this person mentioned in secular history?
20. Was this person important in the eyes of secular people?
21. Is this person habitually preached about? Why? Why not?
22. Why do you think this story is important?


Exercises:
Read the story of Mary and Martha in the gospel of John. Do we know everything about Martha from this incident? Can we assume that we know all of Martha’s personality from this small incident?

Read the book of Job. What do we know about Job’s wife? Can we judge a woman who lost all her children and everything in her life in one day? Do you think God judged her?

Do a concordance search for Lot. What do all the Bible authors think of him?

What does Paul think of Peter? What does Peter think of Paul?
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