Balancing the Sword - A comprehensive study guide to life's manual
Perfect to frame the discussions of your family worship or a church-wide study.


Buy Now


Reading Planner

Vocabulary Tool





Study Support








Tell a Friend


Bookmark and Share


Definition of word.

close reading
close read-ing

Close reading is a reading method by which the reader annotates the text with his own observations and speculations.  More specifically, close reading may incorporate virtually all reading strategies (pre-reading, during-reading, and post-reading strategies) to mark the text to amass in-depth understanding.  Close reading requires a reader to become an active reader (in contrast to a passive reader) by engaging his writing skills while reading.  The purpose of close reading is to consider every word, phrase, and structure along with all that is known about the author and his intended audience in order to unearth the most accurate and complete interpretation of the writing. 

Implementation Recommendations: 

  • It is very helpful to use color pencils when marking patterns or structures directly in a text.  (Highlighters are prone to bleed through paper.)
  • Review the entire text while analyzing one aspect.  (For example, read the entire text looking for verbs.  Then, read the entire text looking for adjectives.)
  • Divide the work with others in a group study so that each member can narrow his focus upon one to three elements.  (To illustrate, David examines the text seeking all available clues in the text that the author reveals of himself and expresses tone.  Timothy, David's brother, assumes the task of marking every figure of speech.  Sarah, the boys' sister, focuses her close reading efforts on finding evidence in the text for the primary theme.)

Close reading skills are expected among the Common Core State Standards in language arts for all students.  Furthermore, close reading strategies are expected by the College Board in preparation for AP courses, the SAT, and other college-level challenges.

Exceeding all other books in the world, the Bible has been the subject of close reading methods due to the study efforts of commentators, pastors, and average Christians.  In a sense, close reading is required of Christians.  Several Hebrew words used by biblical writers were translated as meditate in the King James Version.  Two of these words are siyach (see'-akh) and hagah (daw-gaw').  Both of these Hebrew words mean or were also translated in English as muse, ponder, commune, or study.  Interestingly, these same Hebrew words for mediate can also be translated as converse or speak.  Historic students of the Scripture were to ponder and to converse which meant that they were active readers.  The essence of meditating with conversing was the near equivalent of close reading with annotating.

  • “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein...” (Joshua 1:8).
  • “...[H]is delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night” (Psalms 1:2).
  • “I will meditate in thy precepts...” (Psalms 119:15).
  • “...thy servant did meditate in thy statutes” (Psalms 119:23).
  • “...I will meditate in thy statutes” (Psalms 119:48).
  • “...I will meditate in thy precepts” (Psalms 119:78).
  • “...I might meditate in thy word” (Psalms 119:148).

Balancing the Sword is designed to help the reader discover details in the Bible that otherwise might be overlooked.  BTS changes all passive readers into active readers.

Author: Allen B. Wolfe

Buy Balancing the Sword!

Balancing the Sword is a structured study guide for every chapter of the Bible.