Exegetical Assignment #2: Research Paper



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Exegetical Term Paper: Research and Application

Exegesis is defined as: “explanation, critical analysis, or interpretation of a word, literary passage, etc.” (Webster’s New World Dictionary). In this assignment, students will be expected to critically analyze a chosen passage from the Bible.

Write a 2500-3200 word (7-9 pages) Exegetical Paper on the passage assigned by your Instructor. Using the insights from the literary elements and structure you observed in Assignment #1, along with your research findings, write a research and application paper on the same text. This assignment is worth 200 points and has two parts as follows:

Part 1: Research (2200-2900 words; 160 points)—“What it Meant”

Choose a well-defined text: Genesis 12:1-9; Genesis 22:1-19; Exodus 1:8-22; or Deuteronomy 4:1-8. Use the same passage you used for Exegetical Assignment #1.

Write your research observations following a verse-by-verse format. Your focus here must be historical—what might the text have meant to its ancient hearers given the ancient historical context. Save any theological reflection (that is, about what you have learned from God) for the Application portion of the paper. The assignment here is to keep your historical distance, and you will be graded on how successfully you are able to do so in this section.

Since the vast majority of students are not Hebrew readers it is often helpful to consult a variety of English versions and translations. The reason for this is that there is not always uniform agreement on how certain words or phrases should be translated, and this can point to controversial words in a passage. Different translations have different approaches to translation. Some are literal translations (“word for word”)—they want to find a close English equivalent to each Hebrew word. There are also dynamic translations (“phrase by phrase”)—they seek to find the Hebrew intent of phrases rather than individual words. In addition to NRSV, a few of the good translations to consult are:





King James Version/New King James (KJV/NKJV)


New International Version (NIV)


Revised Standard Version (RSV)


New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)


New American Standard Bible (NASB)


New American Bible (NAB)


English Standard Version (ESV)



Do not use paraphrases (The Living Bible, The Message), or colloquial translations (The New Living Bible).

Present your Research Findings from Exegetical Assignment #1. Present these findings in a fluid and conversational way. Do not tell your reader which questions you asked of the text, this information will be obvious as you simply interact with the passage one verse at a time. Footnote all citations (such as from Bible Encyclopedias, or Bible Dictionaries) in appropriate style. You are required to use Chicago Manual of Style. To find style requirements, please consult:


NOTE on Inclusive Language: As a department we are committed to modeling and encouraging inclusive language in teaching and writing. Students are required to use gender inclusive language in their papers. For help on this topic, please visit:


Your paper must have a thesis statement. To craft a thesis statement, think about the text as a whole. What is this text trying to teach people in its original audience? What did the text mean for the ancient world? What is the text trying to communicate to them? How does the passage accomplish these goals? Your answer/s to these questions will form your thesis for the paper. This should be a one-sentence statement that carefully, precisely, and succinctly makes a statement or claim about the meaning (not just the content!) of the passage. Be careful not to make a procedural statement (e.g. “The following paper will exegete the Ten Commandments.”). Such a statement is implicit and need not be stated. A thesis statement, by definition, is a claim or assertion that can be contested. Italicize this statement and place it at or near the end of your introduction. Failure to supply a thesis statement or to italicize it will result in a 5% grade penalty.

A thesis statement, by definition, is a claim or assertion that can be contested.

Create a title: Good papers tend to achieve clarity and precision by being singularly focused on communicating a crisp thesis. This begins with the very first words of text, your title. It should correspond to your thesis statement in some way. Craft a line or phrase that hints at the meaning of the passage but does not make a claim in itself. Failure to supply a title will result in a 5% grade penalty.

Use a minimum of three secondary sources: These three sources must be general resources (i.e. Bible dictionaries/encyclopedias or commentaries). All sources must be published on or later than 1985, including the first edition. Please see the course bibliography for a list of approved and available resources in the Stamps reference room. You may also request help from our Theological Librarian in the Stamps Theological Library. For a list of sources, see the bibliography in the course syllabus, pp. viii-xii. Please note that Bibles do not count as sources and students are discouraged from using study Bibles as sources (e.g. NOAB, NIV Study Bible, etc.).

HIGHLY ADVISED! Use these sources for your exegetical papers as directed in the syllabus!

Aharoni, Y. and M. Avi-Yonah, The Macmillan Bible Atlas, rev. 3rd ed. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1993.

Baker, David W., Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2003.

Bromiley, Geoffrey W. et al., eds. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979-88.

Douglas, J.D., Merrill C. Tenney and Moises Silva. Zondervan Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011.

Freedman, David Noel, ed. Anchor Bible Dictionary. 6 Vols. New York: Doubleday, 1992.

Freedman, David Noel, Allen C. Myers and Astrid B. Beck, eds. Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible. Eerdmans, 2000.

Please do not use any sources from the internet except those accessed through the APU Library Database.

Students may find help in locating journal articles by going to the course website under Files and clicking on “How to Find a Journal Article.”

NOTE: Treat general resources like condiments, not like the main course. These resources are meant to supplement what YOU think the passage means. Cite secondary sources by either quoting or paraphrasing their content and crediting authors in the footnotes. Be sure to maintain your voice in the paper. Avoid overloading the paper with needless quotes. Use your quotes to back up your claims. DO NOT HAVE YOUR QUOTES MAKE YOUR CLAIMS FOR YOU!

Part 2: Application and Wesleyan Quadrilateral (320 words; 40 points)—“What it Means”

Application (10 points): Write a 160-word (one-half page) essay about how this text applies to you and your community today. In making the leap from what the text meant to what the text means, students are to ask the following questions:

Universal level analysis: How does what I have learned from the passage affect the way I think about God, the world/society, the church in general?
Personal level analysis: How does what I have learned from the passage affect the way I live? How does this message/s challenge or encourage me personally?

Feel free to write with the first person pronoun. As you do, push yourself to go beyond “I have learned a lot.” Think about how the text informs your life and unique experiences. The Application portion should not be an afterthought in your exegetical analysis, but the culmination of it! This is where you work out how the message of the text gets traction in your life!

The only caveat is that you remain focused on what you have learned from the text itself. Be sure that your Application comments are derived directly and reasonably from the meaning of the passage.

While exegesis is primarily about determining what the text meant in its original context and to its original audience, we must not leave the matter there. It is also important to extend the text’s meaning into the contemporary world. After all, the Bible is revelation for us as it was for them. In transitioning from the “then” to the “now,” be careful that you do not throw off the work of Observation and Research. Responsible Application must be an outgrowth of proper Observation and Research.

Wesleyan Quadrilateral (10 points): At the end of your paper, include a 160-word (one-half page) reflection on how the WQ is helpful for your interpretation. This section will have two parts: 1) describe the four elements of the WQ; and 2) explain which of those elements you were drawing from and informed by in crafting your research and application of the pericope.

Style, Form, and Grammar: Please follow the following style, format, and grammar expectations:

Page length: 2500-3200 words (7-9 pages, which includes a title page and a one-page Works Cited or Bibliography
Heading to include Name, Date, Class Name (single spaced) or title page
Font: Times New Roman 12 (Times New Roman 10 for footnotes)
Margins = one inch on all sides
Double spaced (except Heading, which is single spaced)
Page Numbers included at bottom of page
Proofread, proofread, proofread! Papers may be docked for poor grammar, spelling, sentence structure, etc. There is no excuse for this in a college level paper.
Footnotes conform to Chicago Manual of Style:

In Microsoft Word: To add a footnote to your text, place your cursor immediately following the statement you wish to document, and click on References, then click on Insert Footnote. Make all necessary adjustments such as deciding on footnotes or endnotes. Please have the footnote markers appear in Arabic numbers (i.e. 1, 2, 3, 4, etc.).

For Mac Users: Go to Insert, look about half way down and click on Footnote. Format it appropriately and add. You can use either footnotes or endnotes. Please have the footnote markers appear in Arabic numbers (i.e. 1, 2, 3, 4, etc.).

a. For citing a book, the format should be:

Author, Title (Location: Publisher, Date), page number(s).

Example: James T. Kirk, Space Exploration in the Twentieth Century and Beyond (New York: Vulcan Press, 2010), 21.

In the bibliography this book would appear as follows:

Kirk, James T. Space Exploration in the Twentieth Century and Beyond. New York: Vulcan Press, 2010.

b. For citing a journal article, the format should be:

Author, “Title,” Journal Name Number in series (Date): page number(s).

Example: Leonard McCoy, “Heart Ailments in Klingons,” Journal of the Federated Medical Association 44 (2020): 213-214.

In the bibliography this article would appear as follows:

McCoy, Leonard. “Heart Ailments in Klingons.” Journal of the Federated Medical Association 44 (2020): 210-223.

(The page numbers are different because you may be citing a specific page number from the article, but in the bibliography, the entire article is referred to, using the beginning page number and the ending page number.)

Bibliography or Works Cited page conforms to Chicago Manual of Style (see above under footnote style)
Use gender inclusive language (“humanity” instead of “man”; “people . . . they” instead of “a person . . . he”)
Include a Title
Thesis statement placed in italics
Cite the Bible as follows:

—first time only: Sample — “You must remain completely loyal to the Lord your God” (Deut 18:3, NRSV).

NOTE: Include the version (e.g., “NRSV”) for exact quotes only, close quote, then in parentheses, cite book, chapter, and verse followed by abbreviation of version, close parentheses, THEN period. You only need to give your version one time unless you are citing multiple versions.

—thereafter: Sample— “When you draw near to a town to fight against it, offer it terms of peace” (Deut 20:10).

—Do not footnote your Bible verse.

All written assignments must be submitted in Microsoft Word. A 10% penalty will be applied to those who do not. Instructions for Converting Pages Documents (Mac) to Microsoft Word:

File > Export to > Word, then click on Next. In the pulldown menu send the document to wherever you want it (desktop, etc.) > Export > open email and attach Word file, send. Or upload to the Assignments tool on the course website.

Final Comments = Have fun. Exegesis is intended to be an occasion for joy and excitement. Remember that God has something to teach you from the passage. That lesson may change you forever!

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