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The purpose of a synthetic summary chart is to highlight the relationship of the book's parts and gain a better understanding of the whole text. This is largely an inductive study, accomplished by discovering what is said in the book, where it is said within the book, and how it is said.

This is a significant study for uncovering the book's literary structure. Understanding the literary structure of the book helps you determine the over arching message emphasized by the author/Author. Tool number 3 will further develop that task.  

The summary chart's end product reflects a graphic a horizontal look at the book.

These charts will contain the bird's eye and worm's eye view.

How to Construct a Chart

1.  READ: To begin, read the entire book in one sitting.  Reread it over and over again.  This repetition saturates you with THE BIG PICTURE, the bird's eye view.

2.  RECORD: As you read certain observations will tend to stand out. You may observe people, places, events, repeated terms or concepts. Begin recording these initial observations on a piece of paper. Note of their reference, which is the worm's eye view.

Next, print out one blank chart DrEJ* and prepare it for recording your paragraph titles. Count the amount of paragraphs in a 2-page epistle or of a 2-page literary unit in a long book. Draw enough parallel lines in the large diagonal box to represent each paragraph.  Draw them from top to bottom. Write the reference governing each box.

After reading the book several times and preparing your chart, you are ready to summarize your analysis of the content of each paragraph. Summarize each one with a brief title to reflect its content (1-5 words) or subject/complement statement (see Tool 3).

Major themes will surface. List them down the sidebar of the chart. Reference them across the book or section so they can be traced easily with our 4th Tool.

3.  RELATE: When the parts have been analyzed and summarized, then it is time to synthesize the whole unit or book. In the long box below your paragraph titles, record the relationships between the parts. Express yourself with the literary principles of structure listed on the previous page (indicate repetition, pivots, climax, cause/effect, contrast...)

Synthesis focuses attention on how each paragraph relates to the rest of the book. Several paragraphs can be grouped under a section heading. The chart of Galatians marks off 3 main sections with summary titles. Above these sections, it contains a summary title which serves as a bird's eye view of the book.

If your chart covers a book of more than 2 facing pages, make separate charts for each of its literary units. Then make a chart for the entire book to summarizing all the units.

EXTRA TIPS: Prayerfully ask questions.

What is being said in this paragraph, in this series of paragraphs, in these chapters?

How is it being said?

Where is it being said within the unit? At the beginning or at the end?

Which literary devices are employed?

What is being repeated?  

Is there a pivotal  event?  

Are questions  being asked and answered?  

Are things being compared & contrasted?

Use colors or draw shapes to highlight principles of literature.

Tools:  1    2     3     4     5

*Dr. Elliott Johnson, Senior Professor of Bible Exposition at Dallas Theological Seminary, popularizes this chart in his Bible survey classes. It causes us to interact with the whole and the parts of an entire book or literary unit. It also dedicates space to create a useful concordance of dominate or unique themes running throughout the book.

Each PDF in the Library contains 1 blank chart.

2. Create a Synthesis Summary Chart