Basic Outline of an Exegetical Paper
last update 29 July 2006

Cover Page

  1. Title which includes key terms/concepts of study, and reference to passage under discussion
  2. Author
  3. Date
  4. Provenance if desired

Introduction (the Plan)

  1. Topic
  2. Thesis statement
  3. Assumptions and other pertinent background information (e.g., author, audience, date, provenance, rhetorical situation, historical event(s) that provided the "occasion" for the text)
  4. A brief "history of research" on your passage (designed to segué into your argument and establish why it is significant)
  5. Methodology—what approach you will take toward the text (e.g., historical, liberationist, social-scientific) and why
  6. A sketch of how you will proceed in proving your thesis

Body (the Argument)

  1. Argument establishing your views about the text-critical, literary, rhetorical, and historical aspects of the passage
  2. How the passage fits into its literary context
  3. Form, source, and other historical critical issues (other than your main method) and how they shed light on the passage and shape your application of the main method (remember to explicitly name each method when you use it)
  4. Application of the contemporary, critical exegetical method(s) you have decided to "feature" in this investigation, and discussion of how it resolves current issues of scholarly debate
  5. Exposition of what/how the text meant to its original audience
  6. Analysis of the ethical or theological implications of your exegesis for a specific contemporary audience of your choice


  1. How your thesis has been proven
  2. Remaining issues/opportunities for further research

Notes & Select Bibliography