Tag Archives: exegesis

Conquer the exegesis process (Part II)

Here is the second half of the instructions on how to conquer the exegesis process. Created by Katie Hynd, the Post-Graduate Teaching Intern for the Religion Department in the fall of 2013, these images were taken to help as you start the exegesis process. Good luck, and have fun!

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After discussing how both the various translations and the research of a word have affected your understanding of your chosen passage, it’s time to check out the dictionaries and commentaries! All the books in my arms are various dictionaries. They define words and concepts from the Bible. In contrast, a commentary is specifically about the book your passage is found within. After studying my passage, which is Luke 10.38-42, I decided I wanted to learn more about Martha and Mary. Therefore, I looked up their names in various dictionaries and analyzed them. You get to decide what interests you. The commentaries and dictionaries will help you write these sections: Literary Context, Social and Historical Context, and the Theological and Ethical Reading of the Passage. Get ready to research! Read the commentaries’ introductions and outlines. 
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If you find something you want to learn more about, then it’s time to do more research. Go to the stacks! Most of the texts you will use are  on the third floor of the library (call number starts with BS) closest to the big windows looking toward the concourse.
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Want even more information? Check out the online database ATLA! After entering your search terms and being specific in your search terms, make sure the text you are interested in states “PDF Full Text” at the bottom. If you can’t access the article, then you can’t access the article.
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Don’t forget to think and develop your own thoughts about the passage you are researching. This is your project, and you get to write about your own connections when you write the Conclusion and Application section. Also, when you write your introduction, you get to speak to your reader about how this text impacted you. Have fun with it.
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The bibliography. This is the most important section of your paper.  Don’t let it scare you. You get to tame the bibliography. We are using the SBL style, and the “Principia College Biblical Studies Citation Guide” will become your best friend. Read it before you ask for help, but also be sure to ask for help if you are confused. This style uses footnotes, like Chicago style. Remember to keep track of your sources as you write. I suggest creating the bibliographic citations for each source you use AS YOU USE IT. That way you don’t have to search for your sources the night before each section of your paper is due.
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Now that you’re done, put all your sources on the shelving cart. Leave the shelving to the library workers. It doesn’t help anyone if you shelve a book in the wrong section. Also, the library likes to know how often books are used, and when they shelve the books you have used, they check them “in.” That being said, if you can’t find a book, ask the circulation desk about it. They may not have processed the book you want. Last note: do not leave reference materials in your study carrel. Even if you are going to dinner and plan on being back in half an hour, reference materials are for everyone, and there may be someone who only has that half our of time to work on their exegesis. You will probably be writing your paper with lots of others doing the same assignment.

Now you’re done! (At least with learning about the research process.)

Conquer the exegesis process (Part I)

The following images and text were created by Katie Hynd, the Post-Graduate Teaching Intern for the Religion Department in the fall of 2013. Use them as a starting point and a reference when you begin writing your exegesis paper. Good luck, and have fun!

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Welcome to the Library! Come prepared. Bring a mug and sweater, along with your computer and notebook.
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This section of the library, the Reference Room, is going to become your new home. The first step in the process of writing an exegesis is to become very familiar with your passage. Read it in the NRSV along with all its footnotes, the chapter’s introduction, and the book’s introduction. This will help you question the passage and become familiar with your passage’s controversies and/or significant points. In terms of writing, don’t worry about the introduction right now. Move straight into the section “Translations and Word Study.”
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Now it’s time to compare various translations of the Bible. Since we are reading the passage in English, and not the original Hebrew or Greek, the translation of any one Bible is not necessarily the closest to the source text. It is significant to look at how different translators interpret the Bible. We can gain a different understanding of the text if we read how different people translated it. It also helps you with the next task which is…
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…to compare words! It will help if you also make a chart of different translations of your text
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Now it’s time to understand why different translators interpreted a word differently. Start by looking up a word from your passage in Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. This concordance only corresponds to the KJV. The word you look up will list the different passages in which your word is referenced. Look for your passage and then the number to the right of that passage. Then, in the back of the book (in the Hebrew section if your passage is in the Old Testament, or in the Greek section if your passage is in the New Testament), your word’s number will correspond to a Hebrew or Greek term and its definition.

Stay tuned for Part II!

Did he say “Bible extra Jesus”?

by Katie Hynd

How is an exegesis paper different from a research paper? Why do we write these “extra Jesus” papers in Bible classes, anyway? These are two questions I asked last year as I began my post-graduate teaching internship with the Religion Department. I was determined to find answers.

Essentially, an exegesis paper is a research paper. The Religion Department uses the word “exegesis” instead of “research” because there are specific requirements for papers in Bible classes that a typical research paper doesn’t include (or that a research paper requires that an exegesis paper foregoes).

An exegesis paper does not argue a thesis statement or answer a research question. It is guided by a Bible passage.

In Bible classes the word “passage” is used frequently. A passage is a short selection of Bible verses. This short selection can be as short as one line from the Bible, or it can be up to five or six Bible verses. The length is up to you and your professor.

You will become very familiar with the Bible passage you select. After selecting your passage and reading the surrounding text, your exegesis assignment sheet will ask you to answer questions about the literary, social, historical, and theological context of this passage.

The word “context” can seem complicated, and it threw me off when I was writing my exegesis. Don’t let it derail you! Context simply means the surroundings or setting. So, when you are given the prompt to research the literary context, you are being asked to analyze the text that comes before and after the passage you’ve selected—the surroundings. Similarly, the questions about your passage’s social and historical context are asking you to share the setting of your passage. And finally, the questions about your passage’s theological context are asking you to analyze how God is referenced in the surrounding text and how He is portrayed in your passage.

While there are lots of differences between an exegesis paper and a research paper, in both you are expected to write an introduction and a conclusion. The intro and conclusion give you the space to tell your professor what you thought about your passage before you started researching and what you think about it now that you have written a complete paper.

Recently I was surprised when chatting with a few of my friends about their experiences writing an exegesis paper. They told me they enjoyed the space to research a Bible passage. They liked learning more about how to use Bible resources and what to do when they have questions about Bible lesson selections.

So if you choose a passage that deeply interests you or bothers you or you simply want to learn more about, researching and writing an “extra Jesus” paper can be fruitful. Wishing you all the best!

If you want to learn about the root of the word “exegesis” or why religion papers use Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) style or what to do if you are lost and confused in the research process, please see Exegesis Paper FAQs.

Katie Hynd is the post-graduate intern in writing for the Principia College Center for Teaching and Learning. Last year she interned for the Religion Department.

Seven Bible style tips

by Katie Hynd

Learning about Bible grammar threw me for a loop. Even though I am a trained writing tutor, I had no idea how many tricks of the trade there were for religion classes until I served as a writing tutor for an Old Testament class. The more questions students asked, the deeper I delved into the SBL* Handbook of Style.

Here are a few key tips that will help you toward a good grade in your Bible class.

  1. The word “Bible” is always capitalized.
  2. The word “biblical” is not capitalized (except when it begins a sentence…).
  3. Capitalization is a bit more complicated when it comes to eras and events. Ask your professor if you are unsure whether something you will reference frequently needs to be capitalized, such as Babylonian Exile. (Note: you may find each professor has a different preference.)
  4. Abbreviations are important!
    1. Books of the Bible should be abbreviated, but don’t guess how to abbreviate the book title! On the last page of the Biblical Studies Citation Guide, Barry Huff, one of the Principia religion professors, has listed how each book should be abbreviated.
    2. WARNING: Exceptions to the rule! If the book of the Bible is the first word in the sentence, or if you don’t include a chapter number, write out the whole book title.
  5. The words “chapter” and “verse” should not appear in your paper unless one of these rules applies.
    1. If you are referencing a chapter, first write the abbreviated book of the Bible and then the chapter number (use the Arabic numeral system). Examples: Exod 4:5, Luke 3.
    2. If you are referencing a verse, include the abbreviated book of the Bible and then the chapter you are referencing. Examples: Gen 1:1, Matt 4:2.
  6. The word “God” is capitalized if you are discussing the Hebrew deity. If you want to use the Hebrew word for God, it is also capitalized and can be spelled as either Yahweh or YHWH.
  7. Use quotation marks to emphasize words you are researching, such as “angel” or “temple.” Quotation marks will bring attention to the word and explain to your reader why you are repeating one word in your paper. Conversely, use italics when you are analyzing a word in a foreign language, such as mal’ak (Hebrew for angel) or heykal (Hebrew for temple). This helps the flow of your paper and your reader.

And if you have further questions, please ask a writing tutor (or your professor) for help!

*SBL stands for Society of Biblical Literature

Katie Hynd is the post-graduate intern in writing for the Principia College Center for Teaching and Learning. Last year she interned for the Religion Department.