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Here Is The Bible Study Method We Use, Better Known As DOTW

Posted by Rev. Eric Foley on with   Comments

There are literally thousands of methods that have been created for Bible reading! Behind each one is an understanding of what kind of book the Bible is and what it is designed to do.

For example, in the popular lectio divina method, the Bible is understood as a “living word” that the reader “enters” in order to commune with God. In the lectio divina method, Bible readers are trained to read slowly, carefully, and repetitively, and then to meditate, pray, and contemplate. Through this process the reader is encouraged to enter into the text as if he or she were actually a part of it.

No doubt many Christians have found such Bible reading methods fruitful, and yet…

What would happen if we read the Bible not as a word that we enter, but rather as a word that enters us?

In other words, what if the Bible is a read as a revelation of God’s character? What if it is designed to reveal God’s actions toward us and to reveal how God calls us to respond to him and to others? What if we could train ourselves to read the Bible so that the emphasis of our reading was not creativity or mystical experience but instead careful attentiveness to what each scripture reveals about God’s character, his action towards us, and the response he commands from us?

Such a method would approach each passage of scripture something like this:

Hear

1. What does this reveal about the Character of God?

2. What is the context?

3. How does the Nicene Creed shed light on this?

Do

4. What action does God take in this passage toward others?

5. What action does God call me to take toward God? Toward others?

6. What actions did I take?

It’s really the most basic kind of Bible reading of all. We call it the DOTW Bible study method. DOTW stands for Doers of the Word. That name reminds us that all our Bible study is foolishness unless it leads to do the wise word we have heard!

That’s why the method is divided into two parts: Hearing the word and doing the word. Jesus tells us in Matthew 7:24-27 that if we hear the word without doing it, we are foolish and our lives will be thrown into turmoil by every problem we face. We’ll always be crying out, “What should I do now?” Jesus says that if we hear the word and do it, we’ll be wise and our lives will be steady in the storm.

As regards what order to read the Bible in, each method has its own recommendation to that question as well. Following the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL) is one used by many churches in many different traditions, and so we follow it here as a way of keeping in communion with and seeking to serve with as much of the faithful church around the world and across the ages as we can.

So each week we’ll be applying our DOTW method to the RCL reading from the Gospel and offering two posts: One post will be designed to help us hear the word, using the first three questions noted above. A second post will be designed to help us do the word, using the final three questions noted above.

We hope you’ll find the method helpful and the weekly posts fruitful. Please check out our first hear the word post and then our first do the word post, and then look for updates each week thereafter!

Tags: bible study method, lectio divina, revised common lectionary