I have deliberately not included the concluding verse in this Bible Gem reference. The reason is that I want you to determine what is to be the extent of the next natural section. How far should we go in what we include in the next section we look at? How do we divide up the verses into natural units? What constitutes natural units? “Oh that is easy Ian. I will just go with how my Bible divides it up. I use the section headings to tell me which parts go together.” Oh really? Well look at the NIV and then look at the GNB in many different published forms. You will find the section is divided differently.
The NIV has a unit called Jesus Rejected at Nazareth which runs from Luke 4:14 to Luke 4:30; then Jesus Drives Out an Evil Spirit (Luke 4:31-37); followed by Jesus Heals Many (Luke 4:38-44).
The GNB divides it differently as follows: Jesus Begins His Work in Galilee (Luke 4:14-15); Jesus is Rejected at Nazareth (Luke 4:16-30); A Man with an Evil Spirit (Luke 4:31-37); Jesus Heals Many People (Luke 4:38-41); Jesus Preaches in the Synagogues (Luke 4:42-44). Well look at that! The division is different between versions too. Yes that’s right, the segments are divided differently. And this is with an easy part, the narrative section.
First to Galilee, then to Nazareth, following that to Capernaum. Sometimes the narrative is divided according to stopping places on the journey. But other times it is according to the different activites that took place along the way. How are these units put together? What is Luke’s purpose in arranging his material in the way he has? Looking at a harmony of the Gospels will show you a different view again. Have look at it for yourself. A harmony will give you a different understanding. Take the time to do it now and see what you find.
Thoughts are packaged in words which are arranged in sentences. Sentences are then put in paragraphs. We were told in school that we ought to begin a new topic with a new paragraph. But let’s face it, a new paragraph does not always signal a new topic. Sometimes the same topic has to be dealt with in a number of paragraphs. That is especially true of Paul’s thought processes. His thoughts will often span many paragraphs or even many chapters. His thought can keep going over many pages. Thoughts are arranged in sentences, sentences in paragraphs, paragraphs are set into chapters. But we know from earlier Gems that Robert Estienne did not always divide the chapters correctly when it came to keeping the topics together. Over and above these grammatical structures are the pericopes and the sense units. Pericopes are the smaller units which are divided off and given the headings in our Bibles. But I have demonstrated above by using the NIV and GNB that the pericopes are divided differently between versions.
The issue is how each writer meant it all to hang together. Aha, that is the challenge before us and that is where sense units come in to play. The “sense unit” is a new term that has come into use in biblical studies to determine the grammatical units that are combined together in units of “sense”. Those units that naturally go together to make sense of the whole. Where does the current idea start and where does it finish? It might surprise you to realise that a natural sense of how the units hang together can sometimes span many paragraphs, many pericopes and a number of chapters. It is up to you to gather together the sense of what each writer meant and determine how it all fits as a unified whole.
Try looking at this relatively simple part of Luke from 4:14 to the end of this chapter to see how it hangs together and where it should be separated. Use the different versions you have and use a harmony; the one in E-Sword if you have no hard copy of a harmony of the Gospels. Just this one realization will help you in the future to sort out your own understanding and your view of how a section should be divided. Because when we realize the versions divide the passage differently we realize we can’t just simply take the division we have in our Bible as “gospel truth”. Each Bible can divide it differently. So we had better be thinking about it ourselves rather than entrusting the thinking to someone else.
Studying God’s Thoughts Will Make You Wise, While Studying Man’s Only Makes You Clever.Robb Thompson
The adage I am using in Deeper Bible is “Teach a man to fish; feed him for a lifetime”. Happy fishing.Ian Vail
You can learn from ANYONE and ANYTHING if you ask the right questions.Ian Vail
All leaders are learners. The moment you stop learning, you stop leading. I learn as much as I can, from as many as I can, as often as I can.Rick Warren
Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.Benjamin Franklin
That’s what I am trying to do for you in order to teach you to fish.Ian Vail