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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.


Biblical Studies & Exegesis

Oremus Bible Browser

Other Research Guides that May Help You

Credit where credit is due:

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

Oxford Biblical Studies Online provides unrivalled access to six essential Oxford editions of the Bible alongside commentary and annotations from study Bibles seamlessly combined with reference material and primary texts.

2010 Booklist Editors' Choice
2010 Library Journal Best Reference

    • Core content includes: the Oxford Study Bible, New Oxford Annotated Bible 3/e, Jewish Study Bible, Catholic Study Bible 2/e, Access Study Bible with Apocrypha, and the Authorized King James Bible with Apocrypha

    • Reference, texts and commentaries include Barton: Oxford Bible Commentary, Metzger & Coogan: Oxford Companion to the Bible, Rogerson & Lieu: Oxford Handbook of Biblical Studies, Coogan: Oxford History of the Biblical World, Browning: Oxford Dictionary of the Bible, Meyers: Oxford Encyclopedia of Archeology in the Near East, Schiffman & VanderKam: Encyclopedia of Dead Sea Scrolls , Sparks: The Apocryphal Old Testament, Elliott: The Apocryphal New Testament and McKenzie: How to Read the Bible

    • Maps and illustrations

  • Interactive timelines and bibliography

Excellent functionality and extensive links...

    • Search and browse options allow users to quick search all content simultaneously or to focus on a single type of reference content such as subject articles; chapters; biographies; images; maps; charts; or Bible study

    • Navigate back and forth between standard reference material and Bible text. Highlight any term within biblical verse and automatically run a quick search

    • Easily and quickly compare commentaries and texts of multiple bible versions

    • Extensive cross-searching provides users with access to related content in book, chapters, verse, primary texts, A-Z articles, and biblical text

    • Entries from Kohlenberger's Concise Concordance to the NRSV and New American Bible Concise Concordance can be viewed with the text of corresponding bibles for study and comparison

  • An expanding range of carefully selected links to external websites facilitate further research

Click on blue hyperlink below to search OBSO  - also you can find a number of tutorials on YouTube....


    Catholic Biblical Association of America

    New American Bible Online

    Online Sources