The Problem

Historically, the Reference Question has been one of the most difficult introductory remarks to understand.

Is it asking me to give references?

Wait, it’s almost never asking for references?

It’s an answer that comes from more than one verse, right?

Then why is it a question introductory remark?

Wait, it has to do with the question and not the answer?

You get the picture.

Created to help quizzers better finish questions, the Reference Question, in theory, indicates that each question will come from a separate verse. In practice, however, it has been used to indicate that the answers come from more than one verse rather than the questions. Take a look at the following example:

20 points. Two-part reference question. Seven-part chapter analysis answer.
Matthew chapter 14 names which individuals and mentions which geographical location?

Individuals
14:1+    Herod
14:1+    Jesus
14:2+    John (the Baptist)
14:3      Herodias
14:3      Philip
14:28+  Peter
Geographical Location
14:34    Gennesaret

Do the questions come from separate verses? Not really. The questions themselves aren’t coming from any specific verses at all. These are general questions about the chapter. The answers, however, clearly come from separate verses. So, why is this a reference question? Exactly. And therein lies the problem.

In practice, the reference question ends up being about where the answers come from. It’s much easier to quickly see where the answers are located than to figure out where the questions are coming from.

Because of the fogginess surrounding where specific questions come from, complicated contests occur based on validity, and quizzers learning the ropes puzzle over what should be a regular multiple part question and what should be a multiple part reference question. In fact, upon polling dozens of National-level quizzers on the reference question rule, we found that most of them—even quizzers in the top 10—did not fully understand the Reference Question.

Our Solution

Introductory remarks fall into three different categories: question introductory remarks, answer introductory remarks, and location introductory remarks. Since reference questions really end up being more about where the answers come from than where the questions come from, it doesn’t make sense to keep it as a question introductory remark. And since we still think it’s useful for quizzers to know if they need to look in multiple verses for the answers to a question, we did not want to completely eliminate the ability for question writers to include that information in the introductory remarks.

So we created a new introductory remark: “from separate verses.” You’ll hear this in the location part of the introductory remarks (typically the last sentence of the intros before the actual question starts).

The location introductory remarks now have the ability to tell you where the answer comes from (section[s], chapter[s], or book[s]) along with what kind of verses (separate or consecutive) the answer comes from.

Take a look at the following example:

20 points. Two-part question. Four-part answer. From separate verses of Matthew.
What was mixed with what?

13:33    …“The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.”
27:34    There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall

The quizzer now knows to look for two questions with four answers and to look in separate verses of Matthew for those four answers–almost exactly the same information they would have had under the old reference question rules.

And since not every question requiring multiple verses will come from non-consecutive verses, questions will also indicate if the answers come from consecutive verses, as in the following example:

20 points. Two-part question. Four-part answer. From consecutive verses of the section titled “The Destruction of the Temple and Signs of the End Times.”
What will and will not pass away?

24:34    Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.
24:35    Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

The quizzer now knows to look for two questions with four answers and to look in consecutive verses of the particular section for those four answers.

So there you have it! We’ve hopefully simplified a confusing introductory remark in favor of a straightforward one that will be clear to all quizzers, coaches, officials, and parents regardless of previous experience.


NOTE: These rules are for the 2022-2023 season. If you're looking for the 2021-2022 rules for the Gospel of Matthew, go here.

For a list of example questions rewritten to match the new rules, go here

If you have questions about the changes, please feel free to ask a question in the Facebook group.