To get the most out of Hebrew poetry when reading it in English: (1) look for subtle comparison and contrast, not bland repetition; (2) look for layered parallels; (3) look for movement in the parallels. Want to know more? Read this article.
Reading the poetic portions of the Old Testament in English, especially in the Prophets, can be challenging. But the fact is that the more familiar one becomes with the poetic sections of the Prophets, the more one sees that they are absolutely, vitally central to the NT. In the end, the way to make OT poetry interesting and understandable is not by retreating from it but by studying it even more intensely using all the imaginative and scholarly resources at your disposal.
An important assumption of close reading, whether or not the text at hand is Scripture, is that every detail matters. Every detail can and should be subjected to scrutiny. One way we can subject details to scrutiny is by asking, “How else could it be said?” By asking this question we attempt to replicate the thinking that constructed the text.
Part of teaching the Church to love Bible Study is teaching them how to read the Bible closely. In that spirit, this is something I wrote a few months ago for my church's blog: As I have been teaching Romans and Galatians on Sunday mornings these last several months, I have also had occasion to…