Identify contrasts. If the author contrasts two ideas, actions, kinds of people, etc., mark that in your annotations. You can write a short description of the contrast in the margin in the space between lines.
PAGE 1: Liberally annotate the passage.
Circle repeated words or phrases. Not every repeated word or phrase needs to be circled; focus on those that seem significant for understanding the meaning of the passage.
Underline significant verbs. Once again, you don’t need to underline every verb; focus on those that seem significant. Note the tense (past, present, future) and the subject (e.g., God, the author, the audience).
Enumerate lists. If you encounter a list of some kind, number each item in the list in your annotations and consider if there is any significance to the number of items in the list or the way that they are arranged. Does the list build toward the final item in some way? Are items grouped together in some way? Does the list have a logical progression?
Identify contrasts. If the author contrasts two ideas, actions, kinds of people, etc., mark that in your annotations. You can write a short description of the contrast in the margin in the space between lines. Something like “wages from sin vs. gift from God” (for Rom 6:23) is sufficient.
Identify clauses that indicate cause, effect, purpose, result, or means. Key words will often help you identify these clauses. For example, “so that” or “in order that” often indicates the purpose or result of the previous statement. Prepositions like “by” or “through” often indicate the means by which an action is accomplished.
When you notice a clause that address cause, effect, purpose, result, or means in a significant way, put parentheses around it and mark its function. For example, you might write an “M” by those clauses that indicate means. This part of the annotations requires the most careful observation and thought, but it can also be one of the most helpful ways to open up the meaning of a passage.
Write a 200 word analysis of your findings. In your analysis, comment on the insights that you have gained from this close reading exercise. You don’t need to comment on each of the items listed above; instead, focus on what you have found to be most significant and enlightening. For example, consider the following kinds of questions:
What repeated words or phrases are important to the passage?
What contrasts are found and developed in your passage?
What are the significant statements of cause, purpose, result, or means found within your passage?