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Biblical Exegesis: Introduction

Biblical exegesis is the process by which one comes to understand a Biblical text. One begins by identifying key passages, terms, and concepts and uses specialized library resources during the research process.


This research guide is designed around the basic types of Bible resources available to our students for beginning a biblical exegesis paper.  Many instructors also design their assignments with these basic research resources in mind. Therefore this guide has several sections based on the most common types of Bible tools.

  • Backgrounds
  • Commentaries
  • Journal Articles
  • Books


Be certain that you fully understand your professor’s instructions for your paper (often an exegesis of a text), since there is room in the process for individual variations. Needless to say, always follow your instructor's requirements and advice!

The typical steps involved in doing exegetical work can include the following:

  • Establish or orient the context of the pericope in the Biblical book as a whole
  • Examine the historical context or setting
  • Analyze the text.  This can involve literary, textual, grammatical, and/or lexical analysis
  • Critical analysis: employing various critical methods to ask questions of the texts
  • Theological analysis
  • Your analysis and/or application


A pericope comes from the Greek language, meaning, "a cutting-out".  It is a set of verses that forms one coherent unit or thought, thus forming a short passage suitable for public reading from a text, that usually refers to sacred scripture.

Steps in Writing an Exegesis Paper


Although your professor may have specific instructions that differ from what this guide presents, here are the basic steps common to most exegesis papers. You may go step-by-step, or jump to the topic of interest to you.

1. Choose a Passage

2. Examine the Historical, Cultural, and Literary Background

3. Perform Exegesis of Each Verse

4. Offer an Overall Interpretation

5. Provide an Application of the Passage

There is an additional thing you need to consider:

* Document Your Sources Correctly (See Citing Materials tab above).

First, Choose a Passage.


Oxford Biblical Studies Online

Oxford Biblical Studies Online

The most respected and authoritative biblical reference titles now online

Oxford Biblical Studies Online  

  • Oxford Biblical Studies Online provides a comprehensive resource for the study of the Bible and biblical history. It contains six essential OUP Bible texts, including the latest edition of the New Oxford Annotated Bible, as well as deuterocanonical collections, Concordances, and the Oxford Bible Commentary. Search across multiple versions of the Bible, and compare different texts and commentaries in an innovative side-by-side view

Biblical Studies & Exegesis

New American Bible Online

Online Sources

Oremus Bible Browser


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Kathryn Burke
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Oldest relatively complete manuscript of the Bible

Catholic Biblical Association of America

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