Studying The Bible: The Book Summary Method

Psalm 119:105-106 (New American Standard Bible)

105 Your word is a (A)lamp to my feet
         And a light to my path. 
106 I have (B)sworn and I will confirm it,
         That I will keep Your righteous ordinances.

Last week I shared the topical method of bible study. I will admit that It’s not the easiest way to dive into the Word of God, and if you’re like me, you could spend a long time climbing through the various topics that the bible addresses. Nevertheless, it’s still an important method to know – and at least attempt.

Today’s method is a bit more straightforward: the book summary method (some folks use the chapter summary method, and the techniques are essentially the same). This method entails the reader choosing a specific book (or chapter of a book) in the bible to “digest”. For example, you can choose a Pauline Epistle (say, 1 Corinthians) and read the book (or chapter) at least 5 times (in a row). Next attempt to use the “10 C’s” to gain a better understanding of the book or chapter: 

  1. Caption It – give the chapter or book a short descriptive caption or title
  2. Contents – describe or paraphrase the major points of the chapter or book
  3. Chief People – list the important people in the book or chapter
  4. Choice Verse – list a verse that summarizes the entire book or chapter (or one that speaks to you the most)
  5. Crucial Words – write down the key word(s) of the book or chapter
  6. Challenges - list any challenges you had with the book or chapter
  7. Cross Reference – use the cross references (contained within the scriptures of the book or chapter) to give a broader understanding
  8. Christology – seek specific language, metaphor, or references that reveal Christ in the book or chapter (easier for the New Testament, more challenging/interesting for Old Testament study)
  9. Central Lesson – write down the major principles or lessons you learned from the book or chapter
  10. Conclusion – determine how to apply what you read to your daily life 
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7 Responses to “Studying The Bible: The Book Summary Method”


  1. 1 Douglas K. Adu-Boahen July 16, 2008 at 9:04 pm

    Great stuff, bro. I’m beginning a study of the Book of Hebrews myself, so it’s always good to get a fresh reminder…

  2. 2 rascoe1 July 17, 2008 at 2:49 pm

    ST, I have been following the bible study methods, I thinks it is just great.

  3. 3 speaking truth July 17, 2008 at 3:01 pm

    Glory to God rascoe1.

    I’m humbled that God would use me at all. It’s only through the shed Blood of Christ that I’m even worthy enough to search His Word, let alone share how I do it with others.

  4. 4 rascoe1 July 17, 2008 at 4:20 pm

    You know ST, I really appreciate you saying that. It is a gift from the Holy Spirit, to equipt the saints, and you use it well.

    I have tried for years, to be to do, what you are doing, but it is not my gift and I have not been able to as you do. I have my study bible (a Nelsons Study bible, I just love it), a Hebrew bible, a concordance, a bible dictionary, and I will study for hours, making notes in in journals, note pads, stick-it-pads. I had stick-it with scriptures all over, on my bed head, dresser, bathroom mirror, kitchen cupboards, my fridge etc. I study them, memorize them and then I forget them, (that is,where to find what). I love the Word, and the Holy Spirit has blessed me with the ability to understand, so I am content and I just keep reading. I might struggle to find what I need, but I always find it. I consider it a blessing and a privilege to have a desire for the Word, there are many christians who does not have it.

    Keep doing whatyou do my brother, may God bless you.

  5. 5 speaking truth July 17, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    Thank you again for your kind words rascoe1 – they are appreciated.

    I’ve discovered that lately (within the past few months), I’ve grown more dependent on bible study through the internet verses continuing to pick up my bible. It can be addictive – just type in a keyword into the software (or the web) and you’ve got a wealth of scripture to study. That’s why I purchased a new MacArthur NASB study bible (and returned to my Strong’s Concordance, Matthew Henry Commentary and other works) to force me to return to tradition study of written text.

    All in all, it doesn’t matter how we study as long as we just study.

    May God continue to shine His face upon you, my sister!

  6. 6 Clark Bunch May 3, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    Read the book 5 times in a row? This may work well for a New Testament epistle, but I’m sure reading Exodus 5 times in a row will produce fruitful study. I may be a little too ADHD for that.

    I think online search tools, such as ESV.org and BibleGateway.com, are great for Bible study. They are certainly useful for looking up key words or passages, and I find them helpful for linking to. Rather than quote a chunk of scripture in my blog, I cite the scripture I’m writing about with a link to ESV.org. I find it helpful to read from hard copy. I don’t rely on an online Bible to read several chapters from at a time. I can’t imagine that’s good for one’s eyesight.

    I’ve recently started publishing a survey of the Bible online. http://biblesurvey.wordpress.com is the URL. It’s just starting off, and early in Genesis at the moment. I hope the posts get shorter as we pick up speed soon.

    And I agree: how or where we study is not nearly as important as the fact that we DO study.

    • 7 speaking truth May 3, 2009 at 7:49 pm

      Thanks for the note Clark. I agree – Biblegateway and other sites make it easy to locate information, but nothing beats cracking open the book and just reading. I’m going to have to get an ESV study bible since it is the “official” translation of Reformers :lol:

      I am excited about your Bible Survey site – and I look forward to following along over the next year or so.


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