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Exegesis: Determining the Meaning of the Passage and Studying the Grammar, Style, and Genre

Assignment 1

Determine the meaning of the passage, keeping in mind "authorial intent."  What did the Holy Spirit-inspired author say to his audience?
1.Determine the genre of your passage. 

a. What rules apply to this genre?  (See Robert Stein, A Basic Guide to Interpreting the Bible for a discussion of genre rules and Kaiser's An Introduction to Biblical Hermeneutics.  Fee/Stuart chapters 3-13; LBTB 29  ) How will the genre affect your approach to the passage?

b. Analyze the passage according to the rules of the genre.  For example if the passage is poetry, look for the parallelisms, refrains and types.  If the passage is prophecy consider if the prophecy is conditional or absolute; fulfilled, partially fulfilled or yet to be fulfilled; to whom the prophecy is addressed; etc.  If the passage is narrative consider the scene, point of view, dialogue, rhetorical devices, historical considerations, levels of narrative within the story, the doctrine(s) illustrated in the narrative, implicit teachings within the narrative, explicit summaries given by the narrator, etc.  If the passage is law, consider the form it is in, i.e. apodictic or casuistic.  Try to determine the principle or doctrine underlying the specific law.  If the passage is a didactic passage try to outline the passage or construct a block diagram of the passage. (For help, see Walter Kaiser’s Toward an Exegetical Theology, pp. 99-103, and 165-181.)  

2. Study the grammar, style, etc. Look for natural divisions in the text, the flow of thought in sentences and paragraphs, any verb changes (mood, tense, person, number), the use of connectives, adjectives & adverbs, pronouns, figures of speech, etc.  Read the passage in several different versions (preferably from different theories of translation, ie literal, dynamic, free, etc.)  Note how the different versions translate the passage.  Note if there are any textual variants as given in the Bible’s footnotes.  Use commentaries and Bruce Metzger’s A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament to understand the textual variants and their implications to the meaning of the passage.  Use commentaries, grammars, Bullinger’s Figures of Speech, etc. for this step.  Read at least three different commentaries on the passage.

1. Determine and state the genre of your passage.

2. Study the grammar, syntax, and style of the passage according to the guidelines listed in the Exegetical Process Explanation.  Compare the KJV, NIV, NASB, ESV, RSV

a. Look for natural divisions in the passage.  

b. Follow the flow of thought in the sentence and paragraph.  Attempt to highlight the main statements and then identify the subordinate
clauses.  Try to answer who, what, when, where, why, how, and so what of the passage.

c. Verbs.  Look at the tense, voice, mood, person, and number of the verbs being used.  Note any changes in any aspect of the verbs in the sentences and paragraphs. Determine what significance should be attached to the changes. 

d. Connectives.  Look for words that show how the thoughts are connected in the sentences and passage.  

e. Adjectives and adverbs.  Look for adjectives (words that modify nouns) and adverbs (words that modify verbs).  How are they used?  How do they bring emphasis, modify, or intensify the nouns and verbs to which they are connected?

f. Pronouns: Analyze the pronouns. Look for number (singular/plural), person (1st, 2nd, 3rd), demonstrative (this/that), possessive (mine, etc), relative (who, which), etc.  How do the pronouns affect the meaning and flow of the passage?

g. Read and compare your thoughts and ideas with at least 3 commentaries.

3. Provide a bibliography of the sources used.

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