The Exegetical Paper is important for applying to a specific passage what you have learned about hermeneutics. In this paper you will accomplish the following: pick a particular passage for your exegetical paper; discuss an overview of the exegetical problem for that passage; give an outline of your passage; offer a thesis statement summing up the main point(s) of your passage; provide an overview of the background information of the passage (historical, cultural, literary, and social contexts); and offer a bibliography for your study. This paper will focus primarily on the first step of the Interpretive Journey: Grasping the Text in Their Town (the importance of authors and first readers). This assignment will provide an opportunity for you to lay a good foundation for the final exegetical paper and will provide an opportunity for you to gather information for the final exegetical paper. The passage you pick will remain your focus for the rest of the class, and you will build your final exegetical paper on the material presented here. This first exegetical paper assignment helps you lay a foundation for critically evaluating your passage.


Choose one passage from the list below for your Exegetical Paper. After choosing your passage, offer an overview of the exegetical problem you intend to discuss (some suggestions are given below—this list is NOT exhaustive), and research at least seven (7) scholarly sources related to your passage and generate a bibliography that will be incorporated in the final Exegetical Paper. Textbooks do not count toward the total number of sources. The paper should contain the following sections: an introduction, a statement of the passage under consideration and the translation you plan to use, an outline of the passage, the thesis statement for the passage, an overview of the background material (historical, cultural, literary, and social contexts), and a conclusion. You should include a bibliography for the sources you use for background information (and be sure to offer footnotes for citation of sources). The sources used should reflect the seven (7) scholarly sources you have selected for this assignment (NOTE: you may use more sources). Textbooks do not count toward the total number of sources. You must use current Turabian format and submit the document as a .doc or .docx file.

Here are the passages from which you may choose:

• Judges 11:29-40—Problems: Why does Jephthah make his vow? What happens to Jephthah’s daughter? Why is Jephthah mentioned in Hebrews 11?
• Psalm 137—Problems: How do we read an imprecatory Psalm? How do modern Christians handle the violent language? How do we apply this text today? What is the main point of this passage?
• Isaiah 6:1-13—Problems: Why is Isaiah in the Temple? Who are the angels? Why does he confess “unclean lips”? What is the meaning of the coal from the altar?
• Jeremiah 20:7-18—Problems: In what way does Jeremiah think God “deceived” him? What does he mean that God’s word is a disgrace? What is the fire in his bones?
• Luke 15:11-32—Problems: How many parables are in this chapter? What is the focus of the prodigal son story? What group is the focus of the stories of chapter 15? Are these stories simply about salvation?
• Luke 24:13-35—Problems: why couldn’t they recognize Jesus? What caused their eyes to be open later? What is the meaning of the “burning heart” reference? What is the importance of the idea that Jesus shared from “all of the Scriptures” about Messiah?
• John 7:53-8:11—Problems: Did John write this passage? If not, how does that effect the interpretation of it? Why are the Pharisees wrong in this case? Why does Jesus write on the ground? What is the point of this story?
• John 14:1-15—Problems: Is verse 1 a command or an acknowledgement? What is Jesus preparing for his followers—rooms or mansions? Where does this idea originate in Jewish thought? What does it mean to “see the Father” in Jesus? What are the greater works that his followers will do?
• Romans 7:7-25—Problems: Who is the intended audience? To whom are the “I” statements referring? What is the relationship between law and sin? In what way is Paul the apostle “sold under sin”? What does he mean here? Is this passage addressed to Christians or non-Christians?
• Galatians 4:21-31—Problems: What does Paul mean by “allegory” here? Who are “Hagar” and “Sarah” in Paul’s “allegory”? What does Paul mean when he says Christians are not children of the slave woman but are children of the free woman?

• Galatians 5:1-12—Problems: To what “freedom” are Christians called? What is the “yoke of slavery”? What is the difference between “flesh” and “spirit” here? How does “circumcision” cause one to fall from grace (v. 4)? How do we deal with Paul’s statement that his opponents should be mutilated? What does he mean?
• Ephesians 5:21-33—What does “submission” mean in this passage? What were husband/wife relationships like in the first century? How is Paul’s view different from his cultures? How does marriage reflect Jesus and the Church? What roles are given here and how universal are they?
• Ephesians 6:10-20—Problems: Who is the enemy? What is the “full armor of God”? How do Christians “put on” that armor? What does it look like in everyday life? How important is spiritual warfare to Paul? How important is prayer to spiritual warfare?
• Colossians 1:21-29—Problems: What does the conditional sentence in verses 22-23 mean? What does Paul mean that he is filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ?
• Hebrews 6:1-8 (pay attention to context)—Problems: What are the “elemental
principles”? Who is the audience: genuine believers or lost people? What is the danger: apostasy, loss of rewards, loss of salvation, etc.? What does it mean to “fall away”? What does it mean to be impossible to renew someone to repentance?
• Hebrews 10:26-31—Problems: What is the “deliberate sin” referenced in verse 26? What does it mean that there is no longer a sacrifice for sins? What is the danger here: apostasy, loss of salvation, etc.?
• 1 John 5:13-21—Problems: What is the source of the Christian’s confidence? What is the sin unto death? How does one commit it? Why should a Christian not pray for that? Who can commit that sin? What does the phrase “the one who has been born of God does not sin” mean? What does it mean that the whole world belongs to the evil one?
• Revelation 1:12-20—Problems: What are some of John’s sources for the imagery describing Jesus? What does it mean? What are the stars, angels, lampstands, etc.? What is the point of this vision?

Mechanics for the assignment:

  1. Select the passage you will use for the exegetical paper assignments.
  2. Give the reference for the passage (you do not have to quote the passage for this assignment, but please mention the translation you intend to use for the paper: e.g., ESV, NASB, etc.).
  3. Give an overview of the exegetical problem you intend to address in this passage. You should also sum up the main point(s) of the passage for your reader. (You can include this information in the introduction or offer it as a separate section if you wish).
  4. Offer an introduction (complete with a clear and concise thesis statement and an overview of the paper’s contents) regarding the topic of the paper.
  5. Give an outline of the passage being considered. The outline does not have to be detailed but should reveal some consideration of the structure and ideas of the passage.
  6. Offer a thesis for the passage. This statement should sum up the main principles or ideas of the passage in one of two concise sentences.
  7. Analyze the background of your passage by investigating the historical background of the book. This investigation should include consideration of authorship, recipients, date, and provenance of the biblical book in which the passage appears. Further background information includes the cultural and social backgrounds of the people who first read the text (or the city to which the text is addressed). Finally, offer an overview of the literary context of your passage in the overall argument of the biblical book in which it appears. See Duvall and Hays for more information on these issues.
  8. Offer a formal conclusion to the paper.
  9. List your bibliography in current Turabian format. Scholarly sources should be used for this assignment. Be sure to use current materials (within the last 7 years). Peer reviewed articles are acceptable as well as scholarly texts.
  10. Five (5) page double spaced research paper. Include title page, contents, bibliography.
  11. Edit for typos, spelling, grammar, and style based on current Turabian formatting.
  12. There should be at least 7 scholarly sources.

Note: Your assignment will be checked for originality via the Turnitin plagiarism tool.

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