Choose a pericope of appropriate length and difficulty
for the type of exegesis and length of paper you intend to write. For a
6–10 page paper (= approx. 1500–2500 words), try to stay as
short as possible, to a maximum of 6-8 verses.
Consider these questions while researching your text:
Are there any important textual variants? (Check this by consulting
the NA26 or UBS4 Greek New Testament, Funk's New Gospel Parallels,
Throckmorton's Gospel Parallels, Meek's The Writings of St.
Paul, or the footnotes in your translation.) Or, if you want some
help with this, see the TA or Dr.
McGinn.) If so, where? Which is the better reading and why do you
Are there any significant variations in translations? (Check this by
comparing several modern ones, e.g., RSV, JPS, NAB, NJB, NEB, NASB, and
NIV.) If so, where and why? Which is the better translation (or amalgam
thereof) and why do you prefer it?
What are the basic introductory assumptions about the book in which
this pericope is found?
Anything else we know
What is the source of this pericope (e.g., Mark, Q, M, L, John, Paul).
How do you know this?
What form (Gattung) is this pericope? How do you know this?
Are there signs that this form has been invaded (i.e., did an editor merge
two forms or insert one in the middle of another)? If so, where are these
signs, and what do they mean about how to read the pericope?
What role does this pericope play within the book in which it is found?
What are the important persons, objects, institutions, and theological
terms in this pericope? Based on your background reading in reference
works, what is the significance of each of these?
What are this pericope’s Sitzen im Leben with respect
The followers of Jesus who transmitted this tradition?
In one or two sentences, what would you say is the basic meaning of
this pericope for the original author and audience? How do you know this?
How has the author edited this pericope to serve her/his purpose? What
literary and/or rhetorical tools has the author used?
In light of what this text meant to the author and the original audience,
what can it mean for people today? How can this text be taught or preached
to your chosen audience?
Once you are satisfied with your research on the topics mentioned above,
turn to these questions to make sure you
have covered all the bases and to organize your essay.