From John Piper, in his latest book Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God:
One of the best honors I received during my six years of teaching college Bible classes was a T-shirt. My teaching assistant made it. On the back it said, “Asking questions is the key to understanding.”
When I speak of becoming intentional about thinking harder, that’s mainly what I mean: asking questions and working hard with our minds to answer them. Therefore, learning to think fruitfully about biblical texts means forming the habit of asking questions.
The kinds of questions you can ask of a text are almost endless:
- Why did he use that word?
- Why did he put it here and not there?
- How does he use that word in other places?
- How is that word different from this other one he could have used?
- How does the combination of these words affect the meaning of that word?
- Why does that statement follow this one?
- Why did he connect these statements with the word because or the word therefore or the word although or the words in order that? Is that logical?
- How does it fit with what another author in the Bible says?
- How does it fit with my experience?
For more on what Piper means by asking questions of the text, you can also see his article “Brothers, Let Us Query the Text.”