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SEEING THE TEXT - Book Review

1 April 2020
Dr. Moria Levy
book cover

"Seeing the Text" is a 2001 book by Mary Schertz and Perry Yoder, aiming to assist readers in understanding texts. Both authors experienced lecturers, taught English-speaking students the Bible (New and Old Testament) in Greek or Hebrew, leading to the development of a unique visual reading method applicable to various texts. This flexible method allows for overlapping stages, jumps back and forth, and text-specific adjustments.

 

The book is divided into three sections:

1. Looking inside the text

2. Look and rotate

3. Relationship to me as a reader

 

As someone in knowledge management, I have been helping organizations write texts accurately, including procedures and more. This book complements my perspective, addressing extra-organizational content like literature, poetry, legal documents, classical sources, and sacred literature that we receive and must engage with. I find myself increasingly immersed in this content world, and it's genuinely fascinating. In a world with abundant content and prevailing scanning habits, the need to learn how to read and understand deeply is more relevant than ever. Highly recommended! (M.L.(

 

Looking Inside the Text:

 

Preliminary Reading and Comprehension:

1. Commence by reading the text.

2. If you encounter unfamiliar words, find their meanings but avoid checking every word.

3. Decide whether to retain or remove line/verse numbers, as they may aid in referencing.

4. If necessary, use sentence structure, punctuation, or other cues to separate verses or sentences not already divided in the original text.

5. Focus on PARSING grammar: Understand the grammatical meaning of words in the text without analyzing every word but focusing on those that seem unusual.

 

Visual Expression:

1. Organize each sentence or verse into separate table rows. [Add a column for verse numbers.]

2. Include a column for your comments, comprising interpretations of complex words, context-adapted verbal analysis, interesting grammatical information (e.g., passive/active, variable body), syntactic information (e.g., words in unexpected order), and repetitive patterns.

3. Utilize indentation or other visual cues to represent relationships between lines.

4. Engage in critical thinking and share your impressions about the text. Present multiple alternatives for understanding and decide on the most appropriate one.

5. Visually express text characteristics using highlighting (color/font/highlighting, etc.). Options include highlighting repetitions of words or phrases (similar but not identical), word games (words with different meanings in various sentences), and patterns like parallels, opposite parallels, and Chiasm.

 

Creating the Plot:

1. Identify and separate paragraphs (by lines) based on characteristics such as consistency, uniformity, reasonable length, completeness, and transitions from before/after texts.

2. Understand the purpose of each paragraph, determining whether it contributes to the entire text (ONLINE) or accompanies it (OFFLINE). Document your observations.

3. Examine the plot's flow and pace, noting any speed changes between paragraphs.

4. Provide each paragraph with an appropriate title based on the above understanding.

5. Summarize comprehensively what you have gathered from the entire text.

 

Look and Rotate:

Following the initial focus on directly examining the text, the second part compares with external sources of information. These sources encompass chapters preceding or succeeding the text within the same book, chapters from other related sources, opinions of commentators/critics, historical and cultural context, and representative references from the literary canon. The authors strongly advise reading the entire book containing the text, or at the very least, the introduction and table of contents, to gain perspective and a deeper understanding of its context. By comparing the passage with other sections, one can identify relationships, track events' evolution, and comprehend each course's significance.

 

Practical Application:

1. Identify any unfamiliar or incomprehensible gaps in the text.

2. Categorize these gaps into different types of missing knowledge, such as historical information or ideas/values/perceptions.

3. Prioritize which gaps to focus on and determine which external information can help fill them.

4. Delve into other sources to gain insights and draw conclusions.

5. Examine the relationships between the text and external sources to understand the flow and development.

6. Appreciate the importance and role of the studied passage, grasping its purpose and message.

 

Note: The summary combines looking at general sources, examining the entire book, and exploring the literary canon. Each step in the original text is handled with precision.

 

Relationship to Me as a Reader:

In recent years, the approach to text analysis has evolved from understanding the writer's intention to comprehending what the text conveys. Today, the focus is on the reader's perspective, encouraging individuals to see different meanings in the text, each interpretation being equally valid as long as it is derived honestly and logically from the text. The following stages propose a personalized understanding that considers the reader's ideology, values, and cultural context:

 

1. Reflect on your emotional response to the text: Does it resonate with your values and beliefs? Identify your biases and prejudices and reevaluate the text with this awareness.

2. Determine what insights you draw from the text; Share and discuss your conclusions with others to enrich your understanding.

3. Consider what you find valuable to pass on; Plan how to share and disseminate the knowledge gained.

 

Ultimately, this approach to reading and analysis fosters understanding and critical thinking. As a result, we gain even more from our reading experience.


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