OV7 – Using boxes-and-arrows flow charts to explain biblical theology

©  Jeff Stacey   |   Last updated:   30 January 2016

To rightly understand any part of the Bible requires seeing how it fits into the Bible’s overall “big picture” (both theological and historical).  The best way for me to do this is by visualising it with diagrams.  So I have developed boxes-and-arrows flow charts to portray biblical theology and events, as follows:1  

  • The entities are summarised in each box of the flow charts.  They are defined by a brief title, sub-title and sometimes sub-headings. 
  • The attributes of each entity are outlined in the detailed explanations for each box, with references to relevant Bible verses.
  • The main relationships between the entities are portrayed by the arrows that connect the boxes.  What each arrow represents is also outlined in the detailed explanations.  

Neither the boxes nor the arrows should be seen as “watertight”.  They only aim to represent the main features and there are many overlaps and other connections.  Some of these are indicated by cross-references to other boxes.

This technique has been a helpful tool for me in understanding any part of the Bible.2  I use it to try and trace God’s strategy by asking:

  • Which Era of biblical history is this in? [Era number?]
  • What theological “rules of the game” applied in this Era? [from the “A” Chart for that Era  –  see OV8(a)]
  • How did these rules actually work out in each historical situation? [from the “B” Chart for that Era  –  see OV8(a)]
  • How was God accomplishing His primary purpose in these situations? [guided by the relevant detailed explanations from both Charts  –  see OV8(b)]

Continue to OV8


1.   This technique is also called “thought mapping”.  It is similar to using “entity-relationship-attribute” (ERA) diagrams or flow charts, as developed and applied in systems analysis.  So I’m using ERAs to chart the Bible’s Eras!(Return to reading).

2.    Hopefully my graphical presentation will appeal to others who also “think visually”.  This is sometimes called “right-brain” orientation.  It tends to be intuitive and aesthetic, spatial and relational in the mental processes involved.  This complements the emphasis of “left-brain” orientation which tends to be rational and logical, linear and sequential – and often much faster than “left brain”!  Actually I am aiming for my overall approach to incorporate both…(Return to reading).