Scripture Engagement/ Manuscript Bible Study Practice Tips
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Manuscript Bible Study Practice Tips

Create A Manuscript

  • Choose an appropriate translation for your small group. The translation you choose really depends on your audience and your specific goals.
  • Get a copy of the text you want to study where the chapter and verse numbers have been removed. The resource page will help you with this process. Some people also prefer to get rid of paragraph breaks, but this is a matter of preference.
  • Put line numbers in the margins so there is some way of distinguishing parts of the passage for the benefit of group discussion. The resource page will also help you with this process or you can look the process up using a web search engine.
  • Double-space the text and leave wide margins so there’s plenty of room to mark it up.
  • Print the manuscript single-sided so it can be laid out and seen all at once.

Doing the Study

There are other sources listed on the resource page, but here are a few brief guidelines:


  • Every person will need a manuscript of the passage you are going to study.
  • Have alternate translations or perhaps Bible dictionaries available.
  • Provide colored pencils/pens for marking.

Start Individually

  • Start with prayer.
  • Have everyone study the passage individually for a set amount of time.
  • Hone in on the text and make as many observations as you can.
  • Mark observations when you see them.
  • Use different colored pencils/pens to show different ideas visually.
  • Examples of observations to look for:
  • Conditional clauses (if this…then that)
  • Verb tenses (past, present, future)
  • People
  • Key Words
  • Comparisons/Contrasts
  • Figurative Language
  • Repetition and Progression of Ideas
  • Important Connectives (therefore, but, so)
  • As people are studying, have them come up with questions they have about the passage.

Small Group Setting (2-5 people)

  • When the time is up, bring the group back together to have everyone share their observations and ask the questions they have about the text.
  • As a group, work out what the passage is saying. Make sure all conclusions come from the passage.
  • Have people talk about how the passage applies to them personally and share what they plan to change in their lives.
  • End in prayer.

Larger Small Group Setting (6 people or larger)

  • Separate the group into smaller groups (3-5 people).
  • Have individuals study the passage for a set amount of time.
  • When this time is up, have the small groups compare findings for a set amount of time.
  • Have the small groups report back to the whole group to discuss ideas and themes.

Tips for Leader

  • Constantly direct learners back to the text; when they state an observation, ask where they see it.
  • Know the passage well enough to be able to answer questions and guide participants.
  • Remember, you are not the authority—the text is. Let the Bible do the teaching.

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© Phil Collins, Ph.D., 2014. This material was created in partnership with the Taylor University Center for Scripture Engagement.