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Arcing and Bracketing…What’s the Difference?

Arcing and Bracketing are both study methods that serve to graphically display the flow of thought in a biblical text. Thus, in one way they are the same thing with just a difference graphical representation. Yet, each method possesses its own strength. Arcing’s strength is to most clearly display how groups of propositions relate to one another. Bracketing’s strength is to most clearly display the main point of the passage.

Consider the arc and bracket of Romans 3:21-26 below.

Arc of Romans 3:21-26

Notice now easy it is to see from the arc that 25a-25b relates to 25c-26b as an Action-Purpose relationship. God put Jesus forward as propitiation (action) in order to show God’s righteousness and that he might both just and the justifier (2 purposes).

Bracket of Romans 3:21-26

Here, the bracket makes it crystal clear what the main point is, as seen by the longest line. “The righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law.” This is the main point that this entire passage supports and explains.

See also What is Arcing? and What is Bracketing?

Also available: new online, interactive courses in Arcing and Bracketing.

12 comments for “Arcing and Bracketing…What’s the Difference?

  1. Jerry Brown
    May 9, 2014 at 10:37 AM

    If I were going to pick one to start with and become comfortable using, which one is recommended, arcing or bracketing?

    • May 9, 2014 at 2:44 PM

      You cannot go wrong either way. We are excited above both approaches and are confident you will be as well.

  2. Charlotte Flowers
    May 16, 2014 at 10:04 AM

    Would you recommend either course for a total novice, a lay person with no seminary training at all?

    • May 16, 2014 at 3:21 PM

      Absolutely, both of them. Neither of these level 1 courses require any seminary or Bible college education.

  3. Christopher
    August 29, 2014 at 12:43 AM

    Do we need to have good understanding or grasp of English grammar/rules to learn from theses courses and to learn how to use these (bracketing & arcing) tools?

    • August 30, 2014 at 12:11 PM

      Good question. You by no means need to be an English expert with regard to complex grammar structures. However, basic knowledge of picking out the subject, verb and object is fairly important. More important, however, is the ability to think conceptually about logic. (And the course itself should help you grow significantly in this.)

  4. gary
    July 15, 2015 at 1:41 PM

    Will the longest line in the “bracket” method always be the main point?


    • July 16, 2015 at 1:19 PM

      Yes, the longest horizontal line in a bracket will be the main point according to the way you have bracketed the passage. Note, however, that the main point is not necessarily the same as the most important point. Also, sometimes the main point needs filling out from the primary supporting point to make sense.

  5. JV
    March 20, 2016 at 3:34 PM

    Is there a way to convert an arc into a bracket within the biblearc module?

    • March 24, 2016 at 2:48 AM

      Absolutely. They are actually the same module now and so it is just a matter of changing a display option. The way you do so is to click the vertical ellipsis icon on the top-right of the module and then checking to view the arc and bracket as desired.

  6. Vikki
    April 6, 2016 at 2:26 PM

    What is the difference between arcing and phrasing?

    • April 10, 2016 at 3:17 PM

      Whereas Arcing focuses on the logical flow between verbal propositions, Phrasing (as taught in this course) focuses on the subordination and logical connections between “phrases” – which are smaller units that include prepositional phrases, genitive phrases and the like. Also, Arcing starts from grammar but demands a significant degree of logical consideration to determine what is the flow. Phrasing leaves the emphasis on what the grammar presents to us and helps us make sure we are seeing things rightly.

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