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Exegesis Paper

You will complete an exegesis of a passage from the New Testament (employing methods of interpretation and perspectives, such as literary and historical context, literary form, and structure). Exegesis means to expound upon a text, to unpack a text of its many meanings. Elements of various types of criticism will be employed to further develop your ability to interpret the Bible. The paper should be 2000-3000 words in length and follow MLA style.

Select one of the following passages as the basis for your exegesis:

  •   Matthew 6:9-13

  •   Matthew 17:1-13

  •   Luke 9:28-36

  •   Luke 11:2-4

    Follow the outline below and answer the questions in each section using recommended sources. Keep the outline headings below as the subheadings of your exegesis.

  1. Literary Criticism

    1. Context: What follows and precedes your passage? Are your pages affected by this context?

    2. Form criticism: What is the literary form of your passage? Are there other places in the Bible

      (or related text) where this form is used and which help to interpret this passage?

    3. Structure: Do you detect any particular structural pattern (e.g., parallelism within your

      assigned book of the Bible)? Describe the parts of your passage.

    4. Redaction criticism: Has your passage come through an editorial process? What changes

      have been made? Explain why certain changes have been made.

    5. Key words: What are the theologically important words in the passage? Do these words

      evoke any other parts of the Bible? Are these words used in a new way by the author of this passage? What do these words mean?

  2. Theological Analysis

    1. What does this passage say about the relationship with God?

    2. What questions might this passage have addressed in the community for which it was

      originally written?

[Some of the ideas above are adopted from A Guide to Biblical Exegesis by G. Landes and W. Wink (unpublished.)]

You should document your paper carefully. More than three consecutive words used by another author need to be documented as direct quotation (as block quote or with quotation marks). Both paraphrase and direct quotation need to be cited. The purpose of such documentation is to enable the reader to find your source with ease. Failure to document adequately will earn the score of zero on the paper. Keep the use of quotation to a minimum. More than half of a paper consisting of quotation is unacceptable.

Be sure to use some material from the bibliography in the course Doc Sharing area for your exegesis, especially the biblical reference books. Below are some hints for successfully completing the paper:

1. Look up your passage in the New Testament.


  1. Consult a general commentary (such as The Jerome Biblical Commentary, The New Jerome Biblical Commentary, or The Collegeville Bible Commentary).

  2. Consult specific commentaries (see the course bibliography in Doc Sharing, e.g., Harrington’s Matthew’s Gospel, Fitzmyer’s The Gospel According to Luke).

  3. Conduct a periodical search (through EBSCO) of your passage, limiting search to full-text, peer- reviewed journals.

Use the checklist below to ensure that you are following the format properly:

  1. Are all ideas documented (including page numbers)?

  2. Are all quotations documented (including page numbers)?

  3. Is there a works cited page?

  4. Do the notes and bibliography include sources recommended by the syllabus?

  5. Does the format include the headings from the syllabus?

  6. Does each sentence make sense?

  7. Does the “form” section clearly name a literary form?

  8. Does the redaction section contrast the assigned passage with Mark’s version (except for infancy

    narrative and Lord’s Prayer)?

  9. Does the key word section include more than one key word?

  10. Does the key word section refer to Old Testament material? 

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