Christian Scriptures II:
How to begin an exegesis project

Exegesis is the systematic attempt to discover the meaning of a passage of Scripture. It involves the application of specific steps of inquiry into the message of a passage, culminating in an application of that message to today's situation.

2013-2014 Scriptures II Exegesis Guidelines
(.pdf file written by Biblical Literature faculty in the School of Theology and Christian Ministry)

Overview of steps and recommended resources


building materials fire smoke

Start with the foundation--building materials

For your exegesis paper you need to work on three distinct aspects.
We use this metaphor: building materials, fire, smoke.
Follow the links below for guidance on the first phases of your project:

Transforming your environment: Applying the scripture to daily life (smoke)
Intensifying your research: Carrying out an in-depth analysis of the scripture. (fire)

1. Completing a word study green worksheet | Word study handout
2. Performing a verse-by-verse analysis blue worksheet
3. Interpreting the Passage lavender worksheet
Building a foundation of understanding: Gathering background information (building materials)

1.Choosing & reading your verses yellow worksheet
2. Researching background information legal-sized worksheet
3. Examining literary (structure) issues gold worksheet

Recommended Resources for Building Materials and Fire

Bible Dictionaries:

How to use for...
These sources contain encyclopedia-like articles rich with background information
  • Anchor Bible Dictionary
    Call number: R 220.3An22f

    6 vols., Freedman, D. N., ed.
  • The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
    Call number: R 220.3 In8b, 1979

    4 vols., Bromiley, G. W., Rev .ed.
  • Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible
    Call number: R 220.3 In8i

    4 Volumes plus a Supplementary Volume
    Buttrick, A. B., ed.

Bible Commentaries:

How to use for...
These sources generally contain background information (building materials) then verse-by-verse exegesis
  • New International Commentary on the New Testament (NICNT)
    Call number: R225.7N42e
    Note: contains historical and grammatical information
  • New Interpreter's Bible
    Call number: R220.77N42a
    (second copy on Reserve)
    Note: contains literary and structural information
  • Word Biblical Commentary
    Call Number: R 220.77 W891

    Note: contains grammatical and historical information, followed by verse-by-verse exegesis

Gospel Synopsis:

How to use for...
  • Synopsis of the Four Gospels
    Call number: R226.1 B471s 2001

    Aland, 12th edition

Online Resources

Biblegateway.com: "[A] tool for reading and researching scripture online! It provides advanced searching capabilities, which allow readers to find and compare particular passages in scripture based on keywords, phrases, or scripture reference."
Passage lookup | List of available versions of Bible | Commentaries | Dictionaries

Database Refresher

BLISweb: Use the online catalog to search the holdings of Benner Library. Do a title search to find the call number and availability of the books listed below.

Specific, recommended, sources:

ATLA: Includes a full range of index citations to journal articles, essays in multi-author works, and book reviews in religious and theological scholarship. Choose "scripture citation" to look for articles on your passage.


MinistryMatters: Use the “library” tab to access online versions of important Bible commentaries.