Review: Biblearc Phrasing Module

Biblearc

As stated previously, I’ve been familiar with Biblearc for the past few years now ever since my friend Lindsay taught it in a How to Study the Bible class at CCBCY. It took me a while to get into it and harness its incredible usefulness, but it certainly comforted me in my affliction when I taught 2 Corinthians for the second time. Arcing (and bracketing) 2 Corinthians more or less (but mostly ‘more’) saved my class that semester.

When I heard that the guys behind Biblearc had added a new feature to their website titled Phrasing I knew I had to give it a shot. 

BibleArc’s Phrasing Module from Bethlehem College & Seminary on Vimeo.

Was I excited? Sure. It was a new way to study the Bible, to see the flow of thought from one line of thought to the next, to see both the big picture and the little details. The problem was that I had no idea what I was doing. I don’t want to disappoint you and lead you to think that if you tried the Phrasing module that you couldn’t figure it out either. I’m just more dense than others. Regardless, I wanted to learn how to use the new module because of how much I had benefited from the Arcing and Bracketing modules.

Thankfully there was a course (because I must not have been alone in my confusion) that was to be led by Andy Hubert, the creator of Biblearc, and Josué Pineda who does much work on Biblearc’s Arcing courses in Spanish.

The Layout

The way this course worked was that there were 7 weekly, interactive, one hour (usually 1.5 hours) lectures, in addition to the introductory lecture. The course centered around the letter of Titus, and this was the letter that we would be working on for the next 8 weeks. As you progress through the course, helpful handouts were given to you to download to help you keep track of the relationships that exist between sentence clauses.

Each weekly video began with either Andy or Josué giving a short devotion by explaining a biblical text through phrasing. Next, newcomers would introduce themselves, and afterwards we would jump into the lesson. We learned about what a Phrase is, different types of phrases, how they are linked together, how we can find them, how we can see the connections they have with each other, and finally, after putting in all the hard work, how we can see what Paul was trying to say and learn from it.

5 Passes

This course was created to help you understand how to complete all of the 5 “passes” in the Phrasing module. Each pass helps you understand the text a little better. It may take a bit to remember some English grammar rules, but it comes back easily.

In the 5 passes you will learn how to

  1. Divide the passage (Psalm 1.1-6) into phrases (i.e., divide the paragraph into sentences).
    Screen Shot 2016-08-27 at 12.57.43 PM
  2. Indent the phrases to show subordination
    Screen Shot 2016-08-27 at 1.00.51 PM
  3. Draw yellow arrows from the supporting phrases to the main phrase.
    Green arrows point relative pronouns back to the nouns in which they refer.
    Blue arrows point genitive phrases to the noun they modify.
    Screen Shot 2016-08-27 at 1.05.27 PM
  4. Indicate the relationships of every phrase (at least the ones with yellow arrows) to the main phrase**.
    Screen Shot 2016-08-27 at 1.11.59 PM
  5. When finished, write out an explanation of the text: your thoughts, wisdom, application, etc.

Enrollment Options

There were three different ways you could enroll.

Basic Enrollment – You participate in the weekly lectures, do the homework, and you would receive feedback.

Discussion Enrollment – This includes everything in the Basic set, and you would could participate in an extra meeting with either Andy or Josue and a few other classmates where you would work together to phrase a biblical text (e.g., 1 Peter 2).

One-on-one enrollment – Here, instead of a group discussion you would meet one-on-one with either Andy or Josue who would work with you to phrase a biblical text.

Thankfully I was able to join the Discussion Enrollment. Initially I didn’t know what to expect, but the guys I met up with were wonderful because they were very kind and helpful. I also saw that I really didn’t know what I was doing so I needed the extra help from guys who had Biblearced a lot longer than I have. While it’s a bit awkward to be wrong and have to admit that I didn’t really know what I was doing most of the time, I learned so much in the group discussions. I highly recommend choosing to join in on all of the group discussions. Hopefully you can always make the time to do it. 

The discussion groups meet over Google Hangouts once a week, and in the beginning of the course you choose between three different times (whichever is most convenient for you). What was unfortunate about reviewing this from Norway was that I couldn’t always make the live lectures and discussion groups. Sometimes the lectures were delayed and wouldn’t be streamed until 5pm (midnight in Norway – a time when I’m well asleep). The Thursday @ 7am group worked well because I would arrive home from my Norwegian course right before 2pm (a 7 hour difference). These discussion ran between 1 hour to 1.5 hours. I also had exams near the end of the semester so they often interfered with my group meeting time.

The assignments didn’t take very long to complete. I put in the effort because I wanted to learn how to Phrase, and I certainly didn’t get everything correct which, honestly, I’m glad I didn’t. I learned much more from it that way. I’m also glad that we studied Titus because Titus is a tough book. There are odd phrases and formulations which made this quite the challenge to phrase well.

Another benefit with Phrasing is that, while it’s meant to be used to separate sentences to find the main idea, you could use this with larger passages in the Pentateuch, the Gospels, or Acts. Rather than analyzing every verse, you could analyze every section and discover the main idea that way. Really, the world, or, rather, the Phrasing module, is your oyster.

Conclusion

This course was terrific. I have a much better grasp on the Phrasing module, and I plan on using it as I study the Bible and prepare to teach. Biblearc has changed a lot since I first saw it, and it continues to become better and more user-friendly as time goes on. There’s a new system now where you can view other arcs/brackets/phrases that other users have recently published. They show the text’s flow of thought, give a main point summary of the text, and sometimes a longer explanation or series of questions to ask.

Biblearc is focused on helping you understand and know God’s word, to be able to teach it without getting stuck in a muck of details, and to simply share its message with others. Phrasing helps you discover the riches of God’s word, and while it doesn’t replace the kinds of information commentary can give you, it certainly is cheaper than one. You can join Biblearc for free, and you can even work on projects for free. But if you want to save your arcing/bracketing/phrasing projects you pay $4 a month. And that’s a price I like. 

**I wouldn’t really recommend following my outline as it has been a few months since I last “Phrased” a Bible passage. It’s just an illustration . . . if nothing else.

Disclosure: I received this course free from Biblearc. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html.

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