Like many scholarly papers, an Exegesis paper has a standard set of sections which are commonly usedThis set of sections provides a benchmark for scholarship and professionalism in academic Biblical research.  Within these sections are sub-sections which provide the reader with background research to your topic, the problems or shortcomings in this research that you wish to address, the methodology you used, delimitations and the Exegesis itself.  Listed below are the sections you will need to include in your Exegesis paper along with some suggested sub-sections which will cover all the relevant items you gathered in your preparation research.  To see an example of how to layout your paper, click on the page entitled "Sample Paper" listed above.


When typing/desktop publishing your paper, it is very important to meticulously use SBL (Society of Biblical Literature) or Turabian style.  Choose one of these styles only, not elements of both.  Memorize it and apply it to all your biblical research papers.  The page entitled "Sample A Papers" listed above shows examples of SBL style.  We have these styles, in order to provide a professional, comparable standard for scholarly biblical research and they are required by Universities and for publication in scholarly journals.  By not adhering to style, you immediately run the risk of your paper appearing amateurish in the academic community and it will, most likely, not be read if you submit it for publication.  Because of the professional presentation style provides, it goes without saying that a paper submitted which uses style, will receive a much better grade than one which doesn't.  Click on the page above entitled "Style for Exegesis Papers" for links to webpages outlining style and referencing requirements. 

1.  Title Page

Select a title which clearly and concisely describes the content of your paper and catches a reader's interest.  Be very careful to apply style to the title page as any mistakes here will create a bad impression.  (See the page above entitled "Style for Exegesis Papers" and follow the appropriate links for instructions on how to lay out a title page.  Also see the sample papers on the "Sample" page listed above.) 

2.  Table of Contents

A very important item which gives an overview of the sections and subsections you are using. 

3.  Introduction

Your introduction, as a general rule, should be no more than 10% of your entire paper.  Your introduction must contain:

  • Background Statement - Open your paper with a brief discussion relating to your passage.  Include what research has been done on it before, the issues that arose from that research, clashes in opinions/findings of other academics and why they disagreed (i.e. history of interpretation). 
  • Statement of the Problem - This is the reason you are wanting to write a paper on this specific passage.  It might be that nobody has dealt with this verse before or you are unhappy with the way other scholars have approached this verse or you have seen a problem with this verse and you want to spend some time really unraveling it.  For whatever reason, state it specifically and plainly in one to two sentences.
  • Purpose of the Study – ask significant questions of what you hope to achieve by undertaking this research (like provide an interpretation of a verse that has not been written about, to address a shortcoming in current research, etc.). 
  • Methodology – specify how the study will be conducted to obtain the final results.
  • Delimitation of the Study - Some texts have many aspects or issues that need to be investigated.  Only in a doctoral dissertation will you have room to deal with them all (even then, you may still have to limit your study).  In a term paper, you will only have room to address one, or maybe, two of these issues.  Define what specific issue or aspect of the text you will be investigating in your paper. 

4.  Main Body

This section should be approximately 80% of your paper.  As you can see, these sections match the preparation research you undertook previously.  Everything you include in this section of the paper should directly address your problem statement.  If it doesn't, don't put it in your paper.  You are not required to put everything you uncovered in your preparation research into your paper - only information that helps the reader see how you arrived at your conclusions regarding the text. 

  • Hebrew Text and English Translation - See the papers on the  "Sample" page above for proper layout.  You only need one English translation - preferably your own.
  • Historical Context – discuss aspects of the authorship, main persons, events, places, dates.
  • Literary Context – define immediate context and larger context of the text.
  • Literary Genre - identify the genre of the text (narrative, poetry, prophecy, law, genealogy, parable, prayer, dream, hymn, song, dialogue, speech, etc.).    
  • Literary Structure – note literary feature (sentences, patterns, repetitions, parallels, chiasms, inclusio) and outline the structure.
  • Grammatical Study – do mini word studies of the most important key terms and recognize unique vocabulary, syntax, play words, allusions, rhythm, accents, rhetoric, etc.
  • Intertextuality – identify how the chosen text is used in the rest of the Old Testament and in the New Testament.
  • Theology and Message – identify the main ideas and issues raised and solved by the text and locate the relevancy and application of the text. (Include this only if it is required by your program.) 

5.  Summary and Conclusion

Needs to match the introduction. Provide a summary of the main findings of the study and give clear answers to the Statement of the Problem (unique contribution may be mentioned). 

6.  Bibliography

Provide data relating to ALL the books and articles used in your research, not just those you cited in your paper.  Your should also include resources used from the internet or other electronic resources.  Be very careful to use your selected style accurately.