Biblical Studies: Conducting Exegesis

Guide to help you find library resources to help with studies of the Bible.
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Conducting Biblical Exegesis

According to the Anchor Bible Dictionary," exegesis is the process of careful, analytical study of biblical passages undertaken in order to produce useful interpretations of those passages.  Ideally, exegesis involves the analysis of the biblical text in the language of its original or earliest available form."

The following are several factors that can be considered in exegesis:

textual criticism (original wording of text, beginning and ending points of passages);

historical context (events before and at the time scriptures were written, also includes social settings and culture);

literary context (investigation of sources and authorship),

form (what is the genre?  Prose or poetry, etc.),

lexical and syntactical -  usage of individual words  in order to determine the meaning to determine the original meaning.

biblical context (how do the passages fit into the Bible as a whole?)

,structural  and theological meaning.

However, before writing an exegetical paper, be sure to check with your instructor  for guidelines on conducting exegetical research.

Below are links to resources that may be helpful in conducting exegetical research as well as references to useful print Reference  sources.


A number of resources are available to help in your biblical exegesis:

1. Specialized Biblical Encyclopedias -  These provide overview articles regarding individual books of the Bible including key information (such as when the book was written, by whom, for whom, etc.); what the historical, cultural and social setting was during the time period the text was written, analysis of the textual meaning of the scripture, information on translations, etc.

Two good sources to start with are: Oxford Encyclopedia of the Books of the Bible (online encyclopedia)

Anchor Bible Dictionary (print encyclopedia set)  Raynor Reference BS440 .A54 1992

2. Biblical Commentaries - "Although varied in form, content, and style, a commentary is a book that discusses the biblical text chapter by chapter and verse by verse, lifting up noteworthy phrases and words for clarification or comment."  from the Handbook of Biblical Criticism.

Commentaries help explain the Bible passages and are a useful tool in conducting biblical exegesis. The Libraries have a number of Biblical Commentaries which can be checked out. Find how you can locate these resources.

Reference sources