Second Testament
Exegetical Essay
last update 18 October 2006

In 1500-25000 words, demonstrate your command of contemporary critical methods of Biblical study by writing an exegetical essay covering the following aspects of your chosen pericope. Give specific references to the passage to support your conclusions. Include answers to each of the following questions:

  1. What are the immediate and wider literary contexts for this pericope?
  2. In what way(s) is this an appropriate or inappropriate division for the pericope?
  3. What textual critical issues (including parallels) are raised by this pericope? How are these textual critical issues or parallels significant?

  5. Where and when was this pericope written?
  6. Who comprise the intended audience, and what do we know about them? What is the immediate social context (class status, ethnic identity, economic level, etc.) for this work?
  7. What do we know about the author of this pericope?
  8. What specific event(s) in the life of the author and contemporaries gave rise to this work? What is the wider historical context for this work (i.e., what is happening in the world at large)?
  9. What is the literary genre of the document in which we find this passage? What is the original (oral) form for this specific passage?
  10. What sources did the author use in writing this passage, and how did she/he shape them for this particular context?
  11. What key terms do you find in this passage, and how would the author define them?
  12. What is the central idea of this pericope (i.e., what should the audience think/believe)?
  13. What is the author's apparent aim in this passage (i.e., what action should the audience initiate and/or cease doing)? What does the author do (or omit) to make this passage persuasive (or not) to the initial readers?
  14. What in this passage might be persuasive to a contemporary audience?  How so? What in this passage might a contemporary audience find lacking or problematic?  How so?

  16. In what specific ways has this historical reading of your text added to your understanding of the passage? (NB: If you are inclined to say that this passage "means basically the same thing" to contemporary readers as it did to the ancient audience, it is a sign that you have not done your job in Qs 1-13 and need to try again from the top.)


Here are a few examples of previous students' essays, just to get you thinking in the right direction. (There is no guarantee, however, that they are perfect, nor that they would receive a perfect score on this assignment, so be sure to follow the assignment guidelines rather than modeling your essay after these samples.)