Bible 347 Return to Syllabus

Writing Up an Exegesis

An exegesis is both a process of research and a paper presenting the results of that research. While it would be possible to write up the results by presenting the material in the same order in which it was studied, it is better to present it in a more logical order. That order is as follows:

  1. Introduction: The paper should begin with an introduction which catches the readers' attention. This is a good place to present questions which an initial look at the passage raised. Ideally, it concludes with a thesis statement, in this case, a statement of the main idea of the passage under study (i.e., a macrostructure of the passage).

  2. Text: Either at this point, or following one of the next two headings, the paper should present, in block quotation, the text of the passage under study in a literal translation. Depending upon how it is translated, the translation can be from a formal equivalence translation or can be a literal translation produced by the researcher.

  3. Background: It is logical to begin the paper with introductory material to the book in which the passage is found to the extent that such material has a bearing upon the meaning of the passage. This may be as short as one sentence that mentions the author and audience if introductory questions have little light to shed on the meaning of the passage. This is also the place to present any historical background material that sheds light on the passage under consideration. In addition, this section is also the place to present evidence of any customs, rituals, or other cultural aspects that may have bearing on the passage.

  4. Context: Next it is logical to present the greater context within the book in which the passage is found. The paper should begin with the greater context and narrow down to the immediate context. This is the place to present any material at the discourse level that has bearing on the understanding of the passage being studied.

  5. Exposition: Finally one begins the exposition of the text. Ideally this is presented verse by verse. For each verse, one should present any text critical issues that bear on the verse. Note that minor variations that all editors agree are secondary need not be presented. This is also the place to discuss word meanings and grammatical issues that affect the meaning of the verse. However, it is especially important to present not just data but conclusions as to what the verse in question means, as well as explanation of how this verse relates to other verses in the passage. Repeat for each verse in the passage.

  6. Conclusion: Like all papers, an exegesis should finish with concluding remarks that summarize what has been discovered in the research of this passage.

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