Segmenting the Text
Finding the Main Topics
Many times, trying to read something in one large sitting causes you to miss the details. A part of any letter is the flow of topics. In a conversation we don’t discuss everything at once. We start with one topic, which leads us to another. Within each topic we focus on the details before moving to the next topic. By finding the series of topics being discussed, we can begin to outline the book and have concept of the context in which various ideas are presented.
1. How would I identify topics? (Concentration of keywords, introductory statements)
2. Going through the book, where are the shifts in topics?
3. What appears to be the major blocks of discussion?
4. Are some topics nested in larger ones?
Notice the Flow
As topics shift, you may notice a flow between succeeding sections. A concept raised while discussing one topic serves as the introduction to the next topic where the concept is explained in greater detail. Eventually Paul then returns to his initial topic or moves on to a new topic. Paul often introduces an idea and then weaves the thought into the sections that follow.
In Romans the first eleven chapters focus on doctrinal issues, while the remaining chapters deal more with behavioral issues.
1. Read through Romans a fourth time.
2. Using the topics you identified, mark in the margins where you see the topic of discussion changing. Briefly note what the new topic is at each change.
3. What is the theme of Romans as a whole?
4. Make a rough outline of Romans.
5. What would you consider to be the key verse of Romans; the one that best captures the overall theme of the book?