The Sections and Contents of an Exegetical Paper
1. Title Page
The title page should clearly state the passage that you are exegeting, the course title, the professor’s name, the date submitted, and your name.
2. Main Idea and Outline (about 100 words)
Identify your passage and summarize the main idea in 1–2 sentences. Next present a full outline of your passage (do not give an outline of your paper), showing how the main idea unfolds. For each main point of your outline, show in parentheses which main verses correspond. All of the verses of your passage should be included in the main points of your outline.
3. Introduction (about 150 words)
This paragraph should gain the reader’s attention and introduce the main idea of your passage. The introduction should: 1) be written last; 2) connect with the reader in a professional manner (use the theological interpretation and application section of your paper for ideas); and 3) introduce the main ideas of the passage.
4. Context (about 300 words)
This part consists of two sections. First, include a brief discussion of the historical-cultural context of the book. What do your readers need to know about the biblical author, the original audience, and their world in order to grasp the meaning of the passage? Second, discuss the literary context of your passage. Describe the author’s flow of thought in the book and discuss how your passage fits into and contributes to the flow of thought. Pay particular attention to how your passage relates to the passage that precedes it and the one that follows it.
5. Content (about 1200 words)
This represents the body of your paper and the heart of your exegetical work. You should let the main points of your outline function as subheadings. Include under each subheading a detailed explanation of your passage. Explain what the text says and what it meant in context. Be sure to include significant elements that you discovered as you observed the text and studied the passage’s historical-cultural context. Also, explain the meaning of critical words and concepts. Synthesize your own observations with those of the commentaries. Allow resources to assist you, but be careful not to let them dictate what you conclude about the passage. Be critical of your sources, and do not be afraid to disagree with commentators. Keep in mind that the goal of this section is to explain the meaning of the text in context. Discuss the details of the text, but be sure to move beyond mere description of details to show how they come together to convey meaning.
6. Conclusion: Theological Interpretation (about 250 words)
Summarize your findings and discuss how the passage contributes to the theological message of the Bible. The conclusion must address the following theological categories:
Doctrine of God
Reflect on how the passage deepens understanding of these categories. Keep in mind that not every category will be addressed in every text.
Present a formal bibliography of the sources you cite in your paper in accordance with the Turabian style manual. For this assignment the student should use at least seven books and two peer-reviewed journal articles, for a total of nine up-to-date resources. The Bible does not count towards that number because professors automatically assume you will use it.
A good starting point would be to use only books listed in the syllabus bibliography or the course textbook bibliography. Begin with the course textbook and any relevant bibliography provided. See also the bibliography listed in the syllabus. For best results, consult these sources or sources cited by them. Use resources accessible through LR’s library databases.
Do not conduct the research process through the open internet (e.g., Google). Blogs, devotional websites, personal websites, and various other internet sources are not acceptable unless the materials have been published in print by a reputable academic publisher. In general, anything available on the internet or through free software is either outdated, purely devotional, or both. Devotional Bibles, Study Bibles, and one volume commentaries on the whole Bible, OT, or NT are too dated, devotional, or general for academic research (e.g., Matthew Henry, Walvoord, John Peter Lange, J. Vernon McGee, Pulpit Commentary, etc.). See the Luther Rice library video on commentary types.
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