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Bible: Exegesis Guide

Exegesis Guide

Introduction to Exegesis

The meaning of "Exegesis", as it relates to biblical studies, is the practice and art of working out a critical explanation and interpretation of a text of the Bible. Exegesis involves a process of examination and research by which we come to understand the meaning of a particular text of the Bible in its ancient context. As you begin the task of exegesis, the library has the following resources as introductory guides that can help orient you towards the process of the task. The outline that follows is designed to give you some helpful steps towards asking the kinds of questions you will need to do the task well, and give you some ideas of where you can find resources and answers to your exegetical questions in the library at Lipscomb. Before you begin working on the assignment, make sure you understand the instructions and expectations of your professor, which may differ from the outline presented here.



 Barton, John. Reading the Old Testament: MEthod in Biblical Study. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1996.

            BS1171.2 .B33 1996


Butler, Trent C. Six Ways to Study the Bible. St. Louis: Chalice Press, 2010. 


Chisholm, Robert B. From Exegesis to Exposition: A Practical Guide to Using Biblical Hebrew. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1998.

BS1171.2 .C55 1998

Fee, Gordon D. New Testament Exegesis: A Handbook for Students and Pastors. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2002. 

BS2331 .F44 2002

Fee. Gordon D. To What End Exegesis? Essays Textual, Exegetical, and Theological. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2001.

BS511.3 .F44 2001

Harrington, Daniel J. Interpreting the Old Testament: A Practical Guide. Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press, 1991.

BS1140.2 .H317 1991

Harrington, Daniel J. Interpreting the New Testament: A Practical Guide. Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press, 1990.

BS2331 .H37 1990

Hayes, John H., and Carl R. Holladay. Biblical Exegesis: A Beginner's Handbook. Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1987.

BS476 .H35 1987

Haynes, Stephen R., and Steven L. McKenzie, eds. To Each its own Meaning: An Introduction to Biblical Criticisms and Their Application. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1993.

BS511.2 .T64 1993

Kaiser, Walter C. Toward an Exegetical Theology: Biblical Exegesis for Preaching and Teaching. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1981.

BS476 .K34

Kim, Yung Suk. Biblical Interpretation: Theory, Process, and Criteria. Eugene, Or.: Pickwick, 2013. eBook.

Klein, William W., Craig L. Blomberg, Robert L. Hubbard, Jr.. Introduction to Biblical Interpretation. Dallas: Word, 1993.

BS476 .K545 1993

Montague, George T. Understanding the Bible: A Basic Introduction to Biblical Interpretation. New York: Paulist, 1997.

BS476 .M58 1997

Porter, Stanley E. Handbook to Exegesis of the New Testament. Leiden: Brill, 1997. 

Ref BS2331 .H35 1997

Sandy, D. Brent, and Ronald L. Giese, Jr.. Cracking Old Testament Codes: A Guide to Interpreting Literary Genres of the Old Testament. Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 1995.

BS1182 .C7 1995

Schertz, Mary H., and Perry B. Yoder. Seeing the Text: Exegesis for Students of Greek and Hebrew. Nashville: Abingdon, 2001.

BS476 .S325 2001

Steck, Odil Hannes. Old Testament Exegesis: A Guide to the Methodology. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1998.

BS1174.2 .B3713 1998

Stein, Robert H. Interpreting Puzzling Texts in the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1990.

BS2361.2 .S74 1996

Stuart, Douglas. Old Testament Exegesis: A Primer for Students and Pastors. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1984.

BS476 .S83 1984

Tate, W. Randolph. Handbook for Biblical Interpretation: An Essential Guide to Methods, Terms, and Concepts. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2012.

BS511.3 .T38 2012

Thorpe, Samuel R. A Handbook for Basic Biblical Exegesis. Lanham: University Press of America, 1999.

BS476 .T49 1999

Witherington, Ben. Reading and Understanding the Bible. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2015.

BS476 .W588 2015

Choose a Text and Read it (Over and Over)

Begin your paper by selecting an appropriate section of Scripture to exegete. Depending on the length of the paper assignment, you may only be able to cover a few verses, or a small paragraph, comprehensively. Make sure you are dealing with a logical unit of text as your focus. Here it may be helpful to look at a few English translations to see where they break off the section or paragraph that you are considering. Before you begin researching and writing, it is always a good idea to check with your professor to see if they affirm the parameters of the text you are considering, and if they have any hints or key questions you will need to consider to help you get started in exegeting the text. Having determined the parameters of the text you are going to work with, you may also consider preliminarily ways that your text unit is linked to what comes before it, and what comes after it. You will need to return to this question later on, as you consider the place of your text in the larger context of the book that your text comes from.



Once you have chosen your text, immerse yourself in reading the actual biblical text, before moving into other resources in later stages of work. If you can, work with the Greek or Hebrew text, or an interlinear version of the Bible. Read the text in several English translations (an efficient way to do this is online with a resource such as that has access to many translations), noting differences; the similarities and differences you observe between the translations will give you an idea of the underlying grammatical issues of interpretation that are present in the Greek or Hebrew text that you will need to consider in your paper. Make observations about words, people, places, ideas, or concepts that you consider central to interpreting the passage; also note areas of potential difficulty or ambiguity in understanding the text. After you have become thoroughly familiar with the contents of the text, proceed to do some research on its backgrounds.

Consider the Historical, Cultural, Literary Background of the Text


To begin this step, it is a great idea to consult a general One-Volume Bible commentary on your chosen text. These commentaries will give you a brief but scholarly discussion of the main issues of interpretation involved in your text. Below are listed a few of these commentaries that are available at the Lipscomb library, reflecting a range of interpretive perspectives such as Jewish, Catholic, Protestant, and Feminist perspectives. In working through the commentaries, look for topics or issues that relate to the historical, cultural, or literary backgrounds of your text that you will need to research further from more specialized sources. Here it is also a good idea to read the general introduction to the biblical book that your text is coming from, and to start developing a sense of how your text fits into the larger context (chapter and book) in which it is found.


Aymer, Margaret, ed. Fortress Commentary on the Bible: The New Testament. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2014.

    BS491.3 .F66 2014

Berlin, Adele, and Marc Zvi Brettler, eds. The Jewish Study Bible.  New York: Oxford University Press, 2004. 

    BS895 .J4 2004

Brown, Raymond E., Joseph A. Fitzmyer, and Roland E. Murphy, eds. The New Jerome Biblical Commentary. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1990.

    BS491.2 .N485 1990

Farmer, William F. The International Bible Commentary: A Catholic and Ecumenical Commentary for the Twenty-First Century. Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press, 1998.

    Ref BS511.2 .I57 1998

Keener, Craig. The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament. Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP Academic, 2014.


Kroeger, Catherine Clark, and Mary J. Evans, eds. The IVP Women's Bible Commentary. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2002.

    BS521.4.I97 2002

Levine, Amy-Jill, and Marc Zvi Brettler. The Jewish Annotated New Testament. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2011.


Muddiman, John, and John Barton, eds. The Oxford Bible Commentary. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2007. 


Mays, James L., ed., The HarperCollins Bible Commentary. Rev. ed. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2000.

    BS491.2 .H37 2000. 

Newsom, Carol A., and Sharon H. Ringe, eds. Women's Bible Commentary. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1998.

    BS491.2 .W66 1998

Walton, John H., Victor H. Matthews, and Mark W. Chavalas. The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament. Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP, 2000.

    BS1151.2 .W35 2000

Yee, Gale A., ed. Fortress Commentary on the Bible: The Old Testament and Apocrypha. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2014.

    BS491.3 .F66 2014


This stage is designed to help you discover information about the background of your text that is not stated explicitly in the text itself, but which is essential to interpreting your text. The commentaries will also help you identify the genre of the text, which is essential for proper interpretation. Depending on the genre, if it is an Old Testament narrative, law, poetry, prophecy, or wisdom text, or in the New Testament, if it is a Gospel or letter or apocalypse, it will be crucial for you to understand of the text. Ask how the literary form of the entire book, as well as your specific section, impacts your understanding of the text. The following dictionaries will contain more information about genres and how to interpret them. Once you have identified issues that you need to familiarize yourself with, you can go to the Lipscomb website library research guide for New Testament and Old Testament subject areas, where you can browse the resources that have been listed for information on your questions and issues of interest. The research guide begins with a list of General Bible Dictionaries


Balz, Horst, and Gerhard Schneider, eds. Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1990. 3 vols.

    Ref BS2312 .E913 1990

Bromiley, Geoffrey W., ed. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. 4 vols. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979-86. 

    Ref BS440 .I6 1979 v. 1-4 

Freedman, David N., ed. The Anchor Bible Dictionary, 6 vols. New York: Doubleday, 1993. 

    Ref BS440 .A54 1992 v. 1-6 

Green, Joel B., ed. Dictionary of Scripture and Ethics. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2011. 

    BS680.E84 D53 2011 

Kee, Howard Clark, ed. The Cambridge Companion to the Bible. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997.

    BS475.2 .C26 1997

Ryken, Leland, et al., eds. Dictionary of Biblical Imagery. Downers Grove: IVP, 1998. 

    Ref BS537 .D48 1998 

Sakenfeld, Katharine D., ed. New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, 6 vols. Nashville: Abingdon, 2006. 

    Ref BS440 .N443 2006 v. 1-4 

Tenney, Merrill C. and J.D. Douglas, eds., rev. Moisés Silva, eds. The Zondervan Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011. 

    BS440 .Z66 2011 

Vanhoozer, Kevin J., ed. Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2005. 

    Ref BS440 .D495 2005 

VanGemeren, Willem A. New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1997. 5 volumes.

    Ref BS440 .N438 1997

Yamauchi, Edwin M., and Marvin R. Wilson eds. Dictionary of Daily Life in Biblical and Post-Biblical Antiquity. Hendrickson, 2015. 

    BS440 .Y37 2014


The following dictionary series by IVP is also a great place to start your research:


Alexander, T. Desmond, and David W. Baker, eds. Dictionary of the Old Testament : Pentateuch. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2003. 

    Ref BS1225.52 .D53 2003 

Arnold, Bill T., and H.G.M. Williamson, eds. Dictionary of the Old Testament: Historical Books. Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP, 2005. 

    BS1205.55 .D53 2005 

Boda, Mark, and J. Gordon McConville, eds. Dictionary of the Old Testament: Prophets. Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP, 2012.

    BS1505.55 .D53 2012 (on order)

Evans, Craig A. and Stanley E. Porter, eds. Dictionary of New Testament Background. Downers Grove: IVP, 2000. 

    Ref BS2312 .D53 2000 

Green, Joel B., Jeannine K. Brown, and Nicholas Perrin, eds. Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. 2nd edition. Downers Grove: IVP, 2013. 


Hawthorne, Gerald F., Ralph P. Martin, and Daniel G. Reid, eds. Dictionary of Paul and His Letters. Downers Grove: IVP, 1993. 

    Ref BS2650.2 .D53 1993 

Longman, Tremper III., and Peter Enns, eds. Dictionary of the Old Testament: Wisdom, Poetry, & Writings. Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP, 2008. 

    BS440 .D53 2008 

Martin, Ralph P. and Peter H. Davids, eds. Dictionary of the Later New Testament and Its Developments. Downers Grove: IVP, 1998. 

    Ref BS2625.5 .D53 1997 


Having perused the dictionaries, also take a look at the subject area research guides from the Lipscomb Library research guide. Use these resources to learn about how to interpret the genre of your text, and to discern what are historical and cultural/social backgrounds of the text that you will need to know in order to interpret the text in its ancient context. What social setting, values, customs, or ideas are assumed or echoed in the text? What social, political, historical, or economic realities bear on a reading of the text? Consider questions of authorship and audience, as well as proposed occasions for writing the book that your text is a part of. Focus on key facts that will help you interpret the text in its context, with the "who, what, when, where, why?" questions. The research guide has sections specifically on the following topics:


New Testament Introduction, Greek Language, Textual Criticism of the New Testament, New Testament Backgrounds, New Testament Theology, Interpretation, Methodology, and Exegesis, as well as on sections of the New Testament: Jesus and the Gospels, Acts of the Apostles, Paul, General Epistles, and Revelation


Old Testament Introduction, Old Testament Theology, History of Israel, Religion, & Archaeology, Ancient Near Eastern Backgrounds to the Old Testament, Hebrew Language, Old Testament Interpretation, Methodology, & Exegesis, Pentateuch, Historical Books, Hebrew Prophets, Psalms, Wisdom Literature, and Writings



Analyze The Language and Grammar of the Text, ask Methodological Questions

Having done some research into the historical and social backgrounds, it is time to get back into the text. This phase should focus on the grammatical details of the text in order to determine linguistically what the text is actually saying. If you can work with the Greek, Hebrew, or Aramaic of your text, that is a great place to start. It might be a good idea here to make your own working translation of the text, with the help of language resources such as dictionaries, concordances, grammars, interlinear Bibles, and exegetical handbooks (see the recommended bibliography sections on New Testament Greek and Biblical Hebrew). If you are not familiar with the original languages, work with a range of translations of your text to see what underlying issues are present in interpreting the original language. Some helpful areas of language to focus on here are vocabulary and semantics, by asking what are the key words in the text and how are they to be interpreted in this specific context? Also look into the imagery used in the language: are there unusual images, idioms, or metaphorical language that you need to consider in its ancient context? Look for words that are unfamiliar or repeated frequently in your text, words with theological or ethical significance, or words that have a climactic place in the structure of the passage. Moving beyond individual words, start looking at the grammar and syntax of the text. What are the particular forms of the words, the word order, and stylistic features? How do they convey the meaning of the text? Once you grasp the grammatical structures of the text, create a sentence diagram or outline that delineates the flow and structure of the text in order to get an idea of how the pieces fit together. Is there movement from one idea to another (e.g., narrative with suspense, surprise, reversal, contrast; logical steps of an argument; poetic associations of ideas or images)?


Once you have done your own work in analyzing the details of the text, engage with what secondary resources have to say about your text. Use commentaries, monographs, and articles to see what scholars have to say about your text. When searching the ATLA religion database, you can conduct searches based on your specific biblical text to find books and articles that discuss it. When consulting commentaries, make sure you assess the emphasis of the particular commentary and its potential to contribute to an exegetical analysis of the text, as different commentaries have different emphases. The following resources are helpful works that discuss the value of different commentary series:

Stuart, Douglas K. A Guide to Selecting and Using Bible Commentaries. Dallas: Word Pub., 1990. 

    BS491.2 .S78 1990 

Evans, John F. A Guide to Biblical Commentaries and Reference Works. 10th ed. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2016. 

    Z7770 .E92 2016 BS482 

The library research bibliographic guide also contains an introduction to the different commentary series, highlighting the strengths, weaknesses, and focuses of each series. For the sake of an exegetical paper, the Anchor Bible (AB), Eerdmans Critical Commentary (ECC), Hermeneia, New International Commentary on the Old and New Testament (NICOT/NICNT), New International Greek Text Commentary (NIGTC), Word Biblical Commentary, and Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the Old/New Testament (ZECNT/ZECOT) will be the most helpful in analyzing the details of the text. Several commentary series will be available as eBooks, if you are a distance student needing access to commentaries. Having looked through what other scholars have said about your text, and sought help for difficult aspects of your text, you can correct, refine, and confirm your exegesis based upon your research. Finalize your thoughts, claims, and conclusions regarding the passage. 


As you conclude this section, with the help of commentaries, consider your text in light of scholarly critical methodologies that have been developed in biblical studies. At this point, you should have a detailed understanding of the words, grammar, structure, and flow of the passage. Now you can consider asking questions of the text that are framed by various methodologies that have been developed in biblical studies. Utilize the resources in section #1 that introduce and show how to apply various methodologies such as Textual Criticism, Rhetorical Criticism, Source Criticism, Redaction Criticism, Narrative Criticism, and Form Criticism that are applicable for your text. Write down any findings that prove helpful in understanding the texts. Several of the dictionaries listed in section #3 have articles on these various methods, and the following books at the library will also contain discussions and models for how to apply the methods.

Soulen, Richard N. and R. Kendall Soulen. Handbook of Biblical Criticism. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2001.

    Ref BS511.3 .S68 2001

Barton, John. Reading the Old Testament: Method in Biblical Study. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1996.

    BS1171.2 .B33 1996

Barton, John, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Biblical Interpretation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

    BS511.2 .C35 1998

Carter, Warren, & Amy-Jill Levine. The New Testament: Methods and Meanings. Nashville: Abingdon, 2013.

    BS2341.52 .C374 2013

Green, Joel B. Hearing the New Testament: Strategies for Interpretation. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010.

    BS2331 .H43 2010

Green, Joel B., ed. Methods for Luke. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

    BS2595.52 .M47 2010

Haynes, Stephen R., and Steven L. McKenzie, eds. To Each its own Meaning: An Introduction to Biblical Criticisms and Their Application. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1993.

    BS511.2 .T64 1993

Klein, William W., Craig L. Blomberg, Robert L. Hubbard, Jr.. Introduction to Biblical Interpretation. Dallas: Word, 1993.

    BS476 .K545 1993

Porter, Stanley E. Handbook to Exegesis of the New Testament. Leiden: Brill, 1997. 

    Ref BS2331 .H35 1997

Steck, Odil Hannes. Old Testament Exegesis: A Guide to the Methodology. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1998.

    BS1174.2 .B3713 1998

Tate, W. Randolph. Handbook for Biblical Interpretation: An Essential Guide to Methods, Terms, and Concepts. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2012.

    BS511.3 .T38 2012

In recent decades the scope of biblical interpretation has grown, as a broader array of voices and methodological approaches have expanded our engagement with and understanding of Scripture. Historically, the majority of biblical scholarship has been published by European or North American white males. It is always a wise idea to read the perspectives of scholars that do not come from this same social location. How might new perspectives provided by innovative methodological approaches (e.g., feminist or womanist criticism, racially or ethnically centered interpretation, disability studies, ecological criticism, postcolonial criticism) inform your reading of the text? How do these perspectives expand your work to this point, or perhaps lead you to rethink your interpretive approach? 

Adeyemo, Tokunboh, ed. Africa Bible Commentary. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010.

  BS491.3 .A47 2010

Brenner, Athalya, and Carole Fontaine, eds. A Feminist Companion to Reading the Bible: Approaches, Methods, and Strategies. London: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2001.

    BS521.4 .F45 2001

Also note the series The Feminist Companion to the Bible (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press) edited by Athalya Brenner, which contains volumes on every book of the Bible available via eBook.

Brown, Michael J. Blackening of the Bible: The Aims of African American Biblical Scholarship. Harrisburg, Pa.: Trinity, 2004.


Gorman, Michael J., ed. Scripture and Its Interpretation: A Global, Ecumenical Introduction to the Bible. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2017.

    BS511.3 .S368 2017

Junior, Nyasha. An Introduction to Womanist Biblical Interpretation. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2015.

    BS521.2 .J86 2015

Schipper, Jeremy, ed. This Abled Body: Rethinking Disabilities in Biblical Studies. Atlanta: SBL, 2007.


Schüssler Fiorenza, Elisabeth. But She Said: Feminist Practices of Biblical Interpretation. Boston: Beacon, 1992.

    BS680.W7 F56 1992

Segovia, Fernando, and R.S. Sugirtharajah. A Postcolonial Commentary on the New Testament Writings. London: T&T Clark, 2009.


Smith, Mitzi J. I Found God in Me: A Womanist Biblical Hermeneutics Reader. Eugene, OR.: Cascade, 2015.

    BS521.4 .I5 2015

Sugirtharajah, R.S., ed. Voices from the Margin: Interpreting the Bible in the Third World. Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 2006.

    BS476 .V65 2006

Bring together your Interpretation of the Whole 

Drawing together your research on the historical and social context of the text, your grammatical analysis of the text, and your application of critical methodologies, it is time to start formulating your overarching understanding of the text, and thinking about how you will communicate your ideas. Here it is helpful to return to some questions from earlier in the process, such as the question of genre: Does the text conform to the expected pattern of the genre, or does it differ in significant ways?  What about the historical and social context? Does the text fit in with what we would know and expect from the time? What cultural or institutional situations in life does the text reflect?  Having gathered as much information about the text as possible, what would understand the purpose of the text to be? What rhetorical effect is the text designed to accomplish (e.g., to inform, teach, edify, persuade, predict, entertain, exhort, comfort, threaten, debate)?  



Looking beyond the specific text that you have worked with, consider now how it fits in the larger context of the book in which it is found? What comes before this passage that the audience would bring to bear in hearing this text? How does this text set up what comes next? What are the literary juxtapositions in the context? Attend to the immediate context, larger subunits of which the text may be a part, and the book as a whole in which the text appears. Are there connecting threads that inform a reading of the text? Are there disconnects (e.g., changes in literary style or theological viewpoint, breaks in continuity of thought, duplications, repetitions, or inconsistencies) that affect the message of the text in relation to the larger work of which it is a part? And moving further from there, how about within the canon of the Bible? (cf. Canonical Criticism). How does the text function as part of Scripture? What connections does the text establish with other parts of Scripture, both OT and NT, through direct quotations, echoes, imagery, literary allusions, etc.? 

Consider Application of the Passage

The goal of an academic exegesis paper is to explain what the text says and what it meant for its original writer and audience in its original literary and socio-historical setting; it is not a sermon or Bible class. The emphasis of the paper should be on showing your research and communicating your interpretation of the text, not on preaching the passage. The paper should concentrate on findings from the observation and interpretation steps and should only include an application if the instructor has requested it explicitly. If the assignment includes space for taking steps to interpret the meaning of the text for a modern context, and how you would communicate the text to a modern audience, the following are some helpful resources that are held at the library:

Achtemeier, Elizabeth. Preaching from the Minor Prophets. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998.

    BS1560 .A594 1998

Billings, J. Todd. The Word of God for the People of God: An Entryway to the Theological Interpretation of Scripture. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010.

    BS476 .B5 2010

Gibson, Scott. Preaching the Old Testament. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2006.

    BS1191.5 .P74 2006

Graves, Mike. The Sermon as Symphony: Preaching the Literary Forms of the New Testament. Valley Forge: Judson, 1997.

    BS2341.3 .G72 1997

Green, Joel B. Practicing Theological Interpretation: Engaging Biblical Texts for Faith and Formation. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2011.

    BS476 .G724 2011

Holbert, John C. Preaching Old Testament: Proclamation & Narrative in the Hebrew Bible. Nashville: Abingdon, 1991.

    BS1191.5 .H655 1991

Lowry, Eugene L. How to Preach a Parable: Designs for Narrative Sermons. Nashville: Abingdon, 1989.

    BV4221 .L68 1989

Marshall, I. Howard. Beyond the Bible: Moving from Scripture to Theology. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2004.

    BS2331 .M27 2004

Mays, James L. Preaching and Teaching the Psalms. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2006.

    BS1430.52 .M39 2006

Thompson, James W. Preaching Like Paul: Homiletical Wisdom for Today. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2001.

   BV4211.2 .T49 2000

Wenham, David, and Ian Paul. Preaching the New Testament. Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP, 2013.


Wright, Christopher. How to Preach and Teach the Old Testament for All its Worth. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2016.

    BS1191.5 .W75 2016

See also the series on preaching biblical books edited by David Fleer and Dave Bland through ACU Press, which contains volumes on Exodus, Wisdom books, Prophets, Psalms, Luke-Acts, John, Romans, and Hebrews.

The following commentary series are also aimed at providing discussion of the contemporary significance of the text, that you may wish to consult at this point to get some ideas:


Bible Speaks Today - IVP (BST)


New Interpreter's Bible (NIB)

New International Version Application Commentary (NIVAC)

Two Horizons Old/New Testament Commentary (THOTC/THNTC)
Teach the Text Commentary (TTC)

Write the Paper

Now what remains for you to do is to bring all your research together and write the paper! It's a great idea to begin by outlining the flow of your paper and how you intend to structure it, before beginning the writing process. The Craft of Research, now in its 4th edition, is a classic resource that has helped graduate students think through how they want to craft their papers in the most effective ways:

Booth, Wayne C., G. Colomb, and J.M. Williams. The Craft of Research. 4th ed.: Chicago: U of Chicago Press, 2016.

    Q180.55.M4 B66 2016

    (the 2nd edition available as an eBook)

Another resource is the Lipscomb University Writing Center, housed in the library, which offers personal feedback sessions for any stage of the writing process. You can set up an appointment and have someone look over your plan for the paper at the beginning of the process, or get some help with tidying things up at the end of the process. It is also a good idea to check with your professor about the best way to structure and arrange your paper. As you engage in writing, remember that the style required for graduate papers in biblical studies is the SBL Style, which is based on the "Chicago Style" used in other humanities. The following resources will walk you through how to use this style correctly. There are also many resources available online that offer abbreviated summaries of how to utilize the SBL style; a quick google search should yield several helpful results.

Kutsko, John F., Bob Buller, and Billie Jean Collins. The SBL Handbook of Style (2nd ed. Atlanta: SBL Press, 2014).


Turabian, K., Wayne C. Booth & Gregory C. Colomb, A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations: Chicago Style for Students and Researchers. Chicago: U of Chicago Press, 2013.  

    LB2369 .T8 2013

Take your time in writing, don't leave everything to the last night before the paper is due. The longer you sit with your ideas and your paper, the better it will be. Read it several times to find an optimal flow to your structure and smoothness to your language. Aim for clarity and brevity in your writing; if you can state your ideas and conclusions briefly and succinctly, they are more likely to be understood by your reader. Focus on a strong opening paragraph that formulates precisely what you are planning to do in the paper and outlines the main points you are going to make. If your paper has a thesis (some exegetical analysis papers may or may not, depending on if you are making an argument), make sure you build the content of your paper around that thesis to support it. Pay special attention to the transitions between paragraphs and sections, making sure that there is a logical development and smooth connection as you build your argument. Ask a friend or two if they would be willing to read your paper, checking for clarity of sentences, improvement of style, and grammatical and spelling errors. Wrap everything up by double-checking the style of your footnotes and bibliography, and you are done!