A Story within a Story (Learning About “Intercalation” in Inductive Bible Study)

In this Inductive Bible Study exercise, I invite you to read one of my favorite passages of scripture – a double story of Jesus healing people.

Let’s take a look at Mark 5:21-43.

Go ahead and read through the passage prayerfully several times. It’s a great story to read and spend time with. Don’t rush through your reading. Take your time and meditate on the passage. Invite the Holy Spirit to bring this passage alive for you.

After you’ve finished reading the passage several times, I’d like to briefly introduce the rhetorical structure known as “intercalation.” This is where the author inserts one story in the middle of another story.

In this passage from Mark 5:21-43, you can see intercalation. The author (Mark) begins and ends this passage with the story about Jairus’s daughter. In the middle, he inserts the story about the woman who is bleeding. The story of Jairus’s daughter surrounds the bleeding woman’s story. That is an example of intercalation.

Intercalation is used to show comparisons and to highlight and strengthen those comparisons. Spend some time prayerfully looking at what the author might be comparing between the two stories. Why do you think those comparisons are so important for understanding Jesus as our healer?

May God bless your time in His Word.