Reading and Applying Scriptures
1-3. When giving talks, how should we read scriptures?
1 When you speak to others about the purposes of God, whether privately or from the public platform, your discussion centers around scriptures that you read from the Bible. So the actual reading of those scriptures ought to be done well. It should not be done in a matter-of-fact way. Rather, it should bring an added stimulation to your presentation if the reading is to accomplish its purpose. For this reason the Speech Counsel slip lists “Scriptures read with emphasis” as something for special consideration by everyone who wants to be a capable minister.
2 Scriptures should be read with feeling, but it should not be overdone. The amount of expression given to a text should depend upon the text itself and its setting in the talk. It should bring the argument to a high point but should not attract attention to the reading.
3 Furthermore, the reading should focus attention on the part of the text that supports your argument. It should drive home the point so that the audience is convinced. Thus, reading scriptures with proper emphasis instills confidence. It makes the reading authoritative.
4, 5. What is meant by “right words stressed”? Illustrate.
4 Right words stressed. The reason for which a text is being read should govern what is going to be stressed. If every thought expressed in the text is emphasized equally, nothing will stand out and your point of argument will be lost. So make certain that the words that are given primary stress are those that carry the thought for which the scripture is used.
5 For example, if you are using Ezekiel 18:4 to prove that sin leads, not to eternal torment, but to death, you would read it in this way: “The soul that is sinning—it itself will die,” with special emphasis on the italicized words. But if the point that you are making is that it is not merely the body but actually the soul that dies, you would shift the emphasis, reading: “The soul that is sinning—it itself will die.” Your placement of emphasis should be determined by the reason why you are reading the scripture.
6-12. In what ways can we stress the thought-carrying words of a text?
6 Effective method of emphasis used. The thought-carrying words that you want to stand out can be stressed in a number of ways, and the means you use should be in keeping with the scripture and the setting of the talk.
7 This aspect of the quality “Scriptures read with emphasis” is not intended to exhaust all possible means of oral emphasis. You will deal with these details more fully when you study sense stress. But a few methods are listed here to assist you in acquiring the ability to read your Scripture texts effectively.
8 Voice stress. This involves any change in voice, whether in pitch, pace or power, that makes the thought-carrying words stand out from the rest of the sentence.
9 Pausing. This may be done either before or after the key portion of your scripture, or both. Pausing immediately before you read a principal thought creates anticipation; pausing afterward deepens the impression made.
10 Repetition. Emphasis can be gained on a particular point by interrupting yourself and rereading the word or phrase. This method should be handled with discretion.
11 Gestures. Body movement, as well as facial expression, can often help to punctuate a word or phrase.
12 Tone of voice. Occasionally the tone in which words are read can affect their meaning and set them apart, but, here also, discretion should be exercised, especially in using sarcasm.
13, 14. When a householder reads a text, how can we stress its key points?
13 Texts householder reads. When a householder reads a text, he may stress the wrong words or none at all. What can you do then? Generally in such a case it is best to resort to your application of the text to emphasize the points you want stressed. After the reading is completed, you might draw the householder’s attention to these words by repeating them or asking questions.
14 There is another way this can be handled, but it requires caution and tact. You might interrupt the reading at the proper point, excusing yourself as you do so, and then draw particular attention to the word or phrase being read that you want to emphasize. If this can be done without embarrassing or antagonizing the householder it can be effective, but it should be done sparingly.
15-17. Why is it important to make the scripture application clear?
15 Reading a text, even with emphasis, is usually not enough to accomplish your purpose. Occasionally, it is true, the scripture itself might serve as the application of the idea you intend in your argument. But, for the most part, it is necessary to draw attention again to the thought-carrying words in the text and then show how they apply to the argument. This is what the Speech Counsel slip refers to as “Scripture application made clear.” Remember, the average person is unfamiliar with the Bible and cannot absorb your point in just one reading. Reemphasizing the key words and applying them permit the ideas to sink in.
16 If it is to be possible for you to apply a text, it must be appropriate to your argument and, generally, it must be properly introduced. Then, having in mind teaching, you will want to make your application as simple as possible.
17 Furthermore, you must have a clear understanding of the text and your application must be accurate. Consider the context, the principles employed or the persons involved when your use of the scripture calls for it. Never use a scripture in a way that is out of harmony with what the writer intended. Follow the Society’s publications closely on application.
18. How can we effectively isolate key words to be applied?
18 Words to be applied isolated. Before or during the applying of the text the key words should usually be reemphasized. This is to make certain that everything in the text not related to your argument will be subordinated or made secondary. The words themselves that appear in the text need not actually be repeated to do this, although that is generally the way it is done. But in certain instances you can, in some other way, effectively focus your audience’s attention on the isolated thoughts being considered. One way you can do this is simply to use synonyms in restating your idea. Another is to ask questions. If your presentation involves a householder, your questions can be phrased to draw the key thoughts from the other person.
19-22. What follow-through is referred to by “point of introduction driven home”?
19 Point of introduction driven home. This simply means to make certain that your purpose in using the text is clearly understood and appreciated. It may be you have not found it necessary or desirable for some reason to make a formal introduction to the text. That does not mean the point of the text need not be driven home. But, as a rule, you have made at least some advance preparation for your argument before the text is read. Now you must see that there is some follow-through to round out the use of the text.
20 Your audience and the importance of the point in the overall presentation of material will determine the extent to which application must be made. It is generally not enough just to discuss the text. You must connect the thoughts emphasized in the text to your introductory argument. You must plainly state what that connection is.
21 The simpler your application can be, and still accomplish your purpose, the better it will be. It should be free from all unrelated details. This can be accomplished by reducing your argument to the fewest possible facts and then adding only what is necessary to make them understandable. If something has been left unanswered in the introduction, your application must supply it.
22 At this point of progress in the Speech Training program, simplicity and directness should be your goal. When you achieve it, your reading and applying of scriptures will reflect the ability of a skilled teacher.