Inkling of Wonder

Inkling of Wonder

Inkling of Wonder by Ma Robertson

January 26, 2015  in Other Leave a comment

Bloom’s Bible Study

One of the most influential articles I’ve ever read is a two-page article with the admi edly boring title “Inductive Bible

Study,” from the book Discipleship Essentials (h p:// In the article the author simply describes how to study the Bible. Methodically — with goals and with direction. He lays out three basic steps in bible study and then delves into the details of each. To the trained bible studier, there really isn’t anything special about the article. It was influential to me because it was the first time I had ever seen such a useful, detailed methodology for understanding Scripture. It was like handing a chainsaw to a lumberjack who had always used an axe.

The three steps described in the article are (1) Observation, (2) Interpretation, and (3) Application. Or (1) What does it say?, (2) What does it mean?, and (3) What does it mean to me? I first read the article a few years ago, and since then I have returned to it almost every time I’ve studied a passage of Scripture. Its usefulness is in its detailedness. It suggests questions like

Who are the main characters? (1)

Why do the events occur? (1)

What are modern equivalents? (2)

Why does the author use this particular phrase? (2)

How does the main point apply to my life? (3)

Where do I need a change in my behavior? In my thinking? (3)

Useful stuff to which I have repeatedly returned.

If you saw the title of this post, it may surprise you to find out that the author of this article is not named Bloom. This is the part of the story where Bloom comes in. A few days ago, my wife was working on a project for her Master’s degree in Education. She mentioned something about Bloom’s Taxonomy, and as a pathological learner I had to Wikipedia it (like Googling it, only cu ing out the middle man). Suffice it to say I was fascinated by Bloom’s Taxonomy. It was like Inductive Bible Study for everything. Step-by-step instructions on how to learn anything more efficiently and retain it for longer. To save space, I won’t explain what Bloom’s Taxonomy is in too much detail. If you are not familiar with it, check out the Wikipedia article

(h p:// (a 10-minute read) and the extra resources listed below. If you already know what it is, please forgive me for probably ge ing the details wrong.

Briefly (from Wikipedia),

Bloom’s taxonomy refers to a classification of the different objectives that educators set for students (learning objectives). It divides educational objectives into three “domains”: cognitive, affective, and psychomotor (sometimes loosely described as “knowing/head”, “feeling/heart” and “doing/hands” respectively). Within the domains, learning at the higher levels is dependent on having a ained prerequisite knowledge and skills at lower levels.

I’m particularly interested in the Cognitive area in this post. Hopefully as I have more time to explore this tool I will find ways to apply the other two domains as well. So stay tuned for more to come.

The Cognitive domain breaks down into 6 categories:

  1. Knowledge – knowing the facts
  2. Comprehension – understanding the point
  3. Application – applying what you’ve learned
  4. Analysis – breaking it into parts & looking at relationships
  5. Evaluation – making judgements
  6. Synthesis – creating something new using what you’ve learned

Teachers apply this model to the classroom by se ing educational objectives aimed at each level of learning (examples for each are provided in the Wikipedia article). Readers can apply the model to reading a book

(h p:// achments/Generic_Blooms_Lit_quest.pdf). And I believe that the Bible studier and the Bible study material writer can apply the model to mining resources from the Bible. Here are three brief examples, (1) a parable of Jesus, (2) a didactic passage, and (3) an Old Testament narrative. See below for concluding thoughts.

The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37)


Who were the Samaritans? What was their relationship with the Jews like?

What question did the lawyer ask that prompted Jesus to tell this parable? (v29) According to Luke, why does the lawyer ask this question? (v29)


Why do the priest and the Levite pass by on the other side of the road?

What is the lesson that Jesus wants the lawyer to learn from this parable?


Why do you think Jesus answers the lawyer’s question with this parable?

Why do you think Jesus chose the characters he chose? Specifically, why is the Samaritan the hero of the story instead of the victim? Why did he make the first two a priest and a Levite?


What does the parable say about the way we should view & treat others?


Do you think Jesus’s parable answered the lawyer’s question? Why or why not?

What do you think the lawyer’s motives were in asking the questions he asked in v25 and v29?


What might a modern version of this story look like?

Think of a scene in a book or movie where a character goes above and beyond to show kindness like the Samaritan did in Jesus’s parable.

Philippians 2:1-8


What do these verses say to do? What do they say not to do? What do these verses say Jesus did?


What is the main point of this passage?


What does the example of jesus in v6-7 tell us about how we should view ourselves and others? (v3-4) Why does Paul say the mindset of Jesus is “yours”?


In what ways do people act out of rivalry?

Can you think of a time when you saw someone consider someone else as “more significant” than themselves?


Do you think Paul practiced what he preached?

Do you think Jesus really considered other people as being more important than himself? Why or why not?


Read Philippians 1:12-18. What do you think Paul would have said to those who were preaching Christ from rivalry?

Think of 5 ways you could count others as more significant and look after their interests instead of your own.

Story of Mephibosheth (2 Samuel 9)


Who is Mephibosheth? What disability did he have?

What is David’s role in Israel at this time? What does David do for Mephibosheth?


Why would Mephibosheth be afraid of David? (v7) Why does David honor Mephibosheth?


How do you think Mephibosheth was viewed by society?

Why do you think the author ends this account by reiterating that Mephibosheth was lame in both feet?


In what ways is this story similar to our story of Jesus saving us?

Do you think Mephibosheth’s reaction (v8) should be our reaction to Jesus saving us?


The song “Carried to the Table” by Leeland (h ps:// is based on this story. How well do you think the songwriter captured the meaning and emotions of the story?


What might a modern version of this story look like?

Imagine Mephibosheth is telling this story to his grandchildren many years later. What do you think he would say?

Some Thoughts

I’ll conclude by thinking about a few areas where the model may be especially helpful.

Narratives. Bloom’s Taxonomy has been applied a thousand times to educational objectives involving literature, and for good reason. I think it provides an excellent model for narrative stories. If you don’t believe me, try it yourself on a different biblical narrative. There’s nothing special about 2 Samuel 9 — I had just read it earlier that day and decided to try out Bloom’s Taxonomy on it. The above Bible study took me about 15 minutes to write.  Evaluation. This isn’t something we tend to do in Bible study. You don’t often see questions like “Do you think Jesus’ parable answered the man’s question?” or “Do you think Paul really practiced what he preached?” But I think you will agree that these are useful questions. I think that having an exegetical category of Evaluation could help to produce more of this type of question.

Synthesis. This category weaves its way into some Bible studies, but not as many as it should. Questions like “Imagine Mephibosheth is telling this story to his grandchildren many years later. What do you think he would say?” really help the Bible student to take what she has learned and apply it in creative ways (using that right brain (h p:// that the education prophets keep telling us about).

More categories. This may just be a personal preference. I love organization. If you want to find a file on my computer, you will have to dig through several layers of folders to get there. Even my web bookmarks are several folders deep. But I think that having more categories for exegesis could help make sense of the text in different ways. So instead of Observation, Interpretation, Application, we would have Knowledge, Comprehension, Analysis, Application, Evaluation, Synthesis. Observant readers will notice the overlaps.


Here are a few resources I’ve bookmarked.

Literature questions

(h p:// achments/Generic_Blooms_Lit_quest.pdf) using Bloom’s Taxonomy

Bloom’s Taxonomy Book Review Questions (h p:// *This one is fantastic. Major credit due for some of the questions I used.

Bloom’s Taxonomy Question Stems

(h p:// – to help get you started thinking of some Bloom’s Bible Study questions

Shortcut to Brilliant Bible Study: See Your Thinking Bloom (h p:// – a reminder to me that there is nothing new under the sun, with some great example questions for a Bible study on the Woman at the Well

And, of course, the Wikipedia article (h p:// Did I mention that one?

What do you think? Let me know below!

About Matt Robertson

Disciple of Jesus Christ, husband to my best friend, MDiv student at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, coffee enthusiast, pathological learner.

View all posts by Ma Robertson »

Inkling of Wonder

Blog at