Seven-Step Exegesis Guide

I.  Determine Your Text

A.  Choose your text and discover the natural limits of the pericope in which your text is found.
B.  Discover for yourself the limits of the context, the natural larger division of the book in which your pericope is found. Show specifically how the context affects the interpretation of your passage.

II.  Translate the Passage

A.  For those equipped to use the original language:

Write out a continuous literal translation of your own for the passage, consulting standard translations on points of difficulty to see how others have dealt with these points.

B.  For those using English only:

Compare carefully four reputable English translations of the passage, pointing out differences between the translations. On point of difficulty, consult a reputable commentary.

C.  Using concordance and dictionary, carry out word studies on important words in the passage.

III.  Consider the Literary Aspects of the Passage

A.  To discover the structure of the pericope, outline the pericope and trace the train of thought from sentence to sentence.

B.  Examine the form of your pericope and discover whether this form will have a bearing on your interpretation of the pericope.

C.  Show how parallel passages in the Old and New Testaments bear upon your understanding of, the pericope.

IV.  Determine the Historical Setting of the Passage

A.  Set forth and defend your view of the authorship, date, and unity of your pericope and its immediate context.

B.  Describe the historical setting of your pericope, including its intended readers and the situation in which it was written.

V.  Study the Interpretation of the Passage

A.  Examine the discussion of your pericope in a significant theological study by a person important to your theological commitment, and set forth the insights you find important.

B.  Examine the discussion of your pericope in a study by a significant twentieth-century commentator and set forth the insights you find important.

VI.  State the Theological Meaning of the Text

A.  State concisely the message of the pericope to the original readers.

B.  State concisely the message of the pericope to people today.

VII.  Teat the Pericope in a Sermon

Source:  Lecture notes taken from Erskine Theological Seminary, Principles of Exegesis, Spring 2000.

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