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Elements of Biblical Exegesis: A Basic Guide for Students and Ministers

Elements of Biblical Exegesis: A Basic Guide for Students and Ministers [Kindle Edition]

Michael J. Gorman
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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"It seems to me that this is precisely the kind of book that most beginning theological students and seminary students need to read."
" Frank J. Matera, Professor of New Testament, Catholic University
"I have examined M. Gorman's "Elements of Biblical Exegesis" and find it very impressive. I teach courses in biblical interpretation and expect to use the book as a text."
" George Brunk III, Professor of New Testament, Eastern Mennonite Seminary
"Gorman s done a fine job with what strikes me as a pretty difficult topic to handle in book form. "Elements of Biblical Exegesis" is careful andclear without being overwhelming. I think it will be very useful, so thanks to Gorman for his good and insightful work."
" Warren Carter, Pherigo Professorof New Testament, Saint Paul School of Theology

Designed for students, teachers, and pastors, this is really a handbook for studying the basics of biblical exegesis. It takes the reader, step by step, through context, historical, and literary analyses. While the diachronic and existential approaches are given their due, Gorman clearly states that the synchronic approach is dominant here. Having seen how a text is taken apart, the reader is then shown how to put it back together again in a way that will yield meaning for today. The very layout of the book is instructive. Important words are in bold print and explanations follow. Charts illustrate ideas. Each chapter ends with a summary of the content, practical hints for learning and remembering, and suggestions for further practice. Five appendices supplement the material in the book itself. This guide is highly recommended for classroom use.
" The Bible Today

Of the making ofmany books on Bible study there is no end, but we are especially pleased to celebrate this one because its story is in part our own. Long-time readers will remember Michael Gorman as Associate Director of this organization back when it was known as the Council for Religion in Independent Schools (CRIS), and his new book is a revision of something originally published by us in 1990 as "Texts and Contexts: A Guide to Careful Thinking and Writing about the Bible." Fast-forward a decade or so and Dr. Gorman is now dean and professor at the Ecumenical Institute of Theology at St. Mary s Seminary and University in Baltimore.

First things first. Exegesis springs from a Greek word, exegeisthai, to lead out (cf. the Latin "educare," root of our word education ). So exegesis is simply the business of leading ourselves or others out of ignorance into understanding; specifically, it is the process of beginning with a passage of Scripture and discovering its meaning(s), of making the opaque transparent, translucent.

Making sense out of the Bible can be a daunting challenge. As Gorman acknowledges, the already difficult task of biblical exegesis and interpretation is becoming so complex, with the unending array of new methods and methodologies (not to mention new historical discoveries), that many students and preachers are tempted to abandon any hope of being scholarly or even careful in their reading and use of the Bible. But Gorman rises to the challenge: One of the fundamental assumptions of this book is that exegesis can and must be done by the nonspecialist, he declares, and he proceeds to show how the laity as well as the professionals can go about it.

If I may dare to carp, the book stitle is perhaps unfortunate. While this tome will indeed prove useful for students and ministers, and for teachers as well, the truth is that anyone curious about scholarship and the Bible will profit immensely here. Gorman is a very readable guide through the entire terrain. He surveys and explains the disparate approaches to Bible study (from redaction criticism to deconstructionism). He explains the strengths and weaknesses of all the major English translations available. He also leads the way through the thickets of Bible scholarship, clearly explaining and evaluating the full range of resources" commentaries, dictionar

Product Description

In this revised and expanded edition of Elements of Biblical Exegesis: A Basic Guide for Students and Ministers, Michael J. Gorman presents a straightforward approach to the complex task of biblical exegesis.

Designed for students, teachers, and ministers, this hands-on guide breaks the task down into seven distinct elements. For each of these, Gorman supplies a clear explanation, practical hints, and suggested exercises to help the reader develop exegetical proficiency. The new edition addresses more fully the meaning of theological interpretation and provides updated print and internet resources for those who want to pursue further study in any aspect of exegesis. Appendixes offer three sample exegesis papers and practical guidelines for writing a research exegesis paper.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1081 KB
  • Print Length: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Baker Academic; Rev Exp edition (1 Oct 2008)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005LQR41Q
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #379,073 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Top tip for Exegesis studies 27 April 2014
By JamesS
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
For students and non-students alike, this book is well written step-by-step guide for understanding what Exegesis is about. He provides helpful tools to enable anyone to study the bible more deeply. For theology students in particular it provides a useful framework for helping prepare your essays or preparing sermons. Like a favourite teacher, Gorman writes in a congenial and paternal tone that carefully explains each step and provides useful tips and exercises along the way. Highly recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars exegesis. 23 Dec 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I got this book on my Kindle and thoroughly enjoyed it. It will be a help to me in the future. My only complaint is that Kindle books very rarely contain page numbers which makes it difficult if not impossible to us as a reference in a footnoted essay.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.4 out of 5 stars  35 reviews
31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Just the Basics 8 Sep 2003
By Bethany McKinney - Published on
This book lives up to its subtitle--it is indeed a very basic guide to biblical exegesis. It is easy to read, and explains everything at a level that anyone, even if they have never done exegesis, will be able to understand. It gives a basic explanation of how to consider historical context, literary context, etc. and how to do a more detailed analysis of a text. Gorman also emphasizes the importance of taking our own context as exegetes into account; realizing that we bring our own lives and cultures into our readings, as much as we try not to. And I appreciated that he brought up that a main point of exegesis (which is often neglected) is for us to ask the question, "If we were to take this passage seriously, how then would we live?"
I think this is a good, quick read that will be good for people who want to start doing some responsible Biblical exegesis. However, if you are a graduate student (or anyone for that matter) and already have a basic handle on how to do exegesis and want to do more in-depth study, this is probably not the book you are looking for.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Approach. 15 Oct 2007
By Erin J. - Published on
Michael Gorman offers a good, basic step by step approach to exegesis that will help those who do not know Greek or Hebrew and even those who do. He starts by explaining the different approaches (synchronic, diachronic, and existential). He uses an eclectic approach in this book and recommends the reader do the same. He favors working from the final text form and not giving undue attention to liberal methods of form criticism. There is an excellent chapter on picking out a good modern day translation and the pro's and con's of each of the translations. At the end of each chapter he provides three very helpful sections: First, is the chapter summary, in which he briefly recaps the main points. Second, here he gives a couple of tips that make exegesis easier. Third, is the "For Further Insight and Practice" section, in which the author gives assignments that really reinforce the teaching as you go. Exegesis is something you learn by doing and Gorman helps this to happen with this excellent teaching tool. The chapters are short and set up in a step by step or as Gorman has labeled each step as an element. For example, chapter 3 is labeled "Survey: The first element". After the step by steps of exegesis, the author has provided an entire chapter, that is longer than all the rest on "Resources for Exegesis". This chapter alone is worth the price of the book. All of the bibliographies are annotated. If you are a student or a minister and are looking for a great basic guide to get you started in exegesis, then you need to order this book. You will be glad that you did.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent!!! 22 Jun 2003
By A Customer - Published on
Extremely well written, and very insightful. The book gives many practical guidelines for biblical analysis, and suggests many tools to help in the process. There is also an excellent critique on the different translations of the bible. Overall, I'd say the book is a bargain, and invaluable to anyone who reads the bible!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great resource 7 Dec 2010
By John D. Fitzmorris - Published on
I am an adjunct professor in Tulane's School of Continuing Studies (Religious Studies.)I teach courses in the Gospels, Paul and his theology and Jesus. I stumbled across this book while surfing on Amazon, not looking just surfing. Gorman's book is a wondrous resource and I have put it to use in all three courses. An excellent guide for my students in putting together and critiquing their papers I think it ought to be mandatory in homeletics.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended for the serious student (or any serious person) 25 Nov 2013
By S. Grace - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Michael J. Gorman’s Elements of Biblical Exegesis is a useful book intended to introduce a person to the fundamentals of the task of writing a careful biblical exegetical paper (3). Though the exegetical paper is primarily written in the academic setting of a college or seminary environment, the purpose of learning to write a well-developed and careful exegetical paper is clearly extended beyond the classroom and the finished document itself so that one may appropriate his or her research to be applied in future teaching, writing, or preaching settings.
In three major sections the book is written in such a way as to facilitate the exegetical process in a step-by-step fashion. The text itself is designed so as to be made helpful to the student by providing a summary, review exercises, and practical hints at the end of each major chapter. In addition to the introducing the would-be exegete to exegetical methods and process the book provides a very helpful extensive section on “Resources for Exegesis” (181-232). Following the very significant “Resources” section are four appendices which include tables of methods, practical guides for writing a research exegesis paper, three example exegetical papers, and selected internet resources for biblical studies. All in all, the book is designed to be used by student in a classroom setting (though not required) for the purpose of developing his or her skills a biblical exegete. While the book certainly accomplishes its goal to introduce a student to the exegetical process its affect is well beyond the classroom. This book has a significant reach and will be found useful to the person who brand new to the study of the Bible or to the professional Pastor who is looking to brush up his or her skills as a Biblical exegete.
Section One, “Orientation”, begins by introducing the task. Exegesis is defined by Gorman as “an investigation” of the “many dimensions, or textures, of a particular text” (11). Additionally, exegesis is a conversation with readers “living and dead” (11). Lastly, the exegetical process requires a method (both in the sense of an art, as well as a discipline) that requires careful investigation and hard work, but which cannot proceed without imagination and intuition (12).
The author notes that books discussing the task of exegetical study are numerous. The thesis of this book is that exegetical method is best accomplished through the appropriation of primarily diachronic as well as synchronic approaches to the text (12, 23). The author notes an existential approach(es) but does not emphasize it. Not only is a balance of methodology required, but one must also understand and employ the “circular” nature of the hermeneutical task; that is the text must be investigated at close-up ranges (word studies, sentence structure, genre) as well as from the birds-eye view (canonical, theological, and cultural). This ebb and flow of methodology will continue in a circular (process) fashion as one comes to understand the polyvalent nature of the text and draws from the richness of the biblical spring in its full canonical form (23). This process is done through seven elements of exegesis that proceed in logical order. Following this method, the author contends, will reveal the polyvalent nature of the text. Gorman suggests that this polyvalence is a gift to be embraced, not a problem to be conquered through discovery of the ‘original meaning’ (135-136). This exegetical method, which is best done with a hermeneutic of trust (143), will finally lead the interpreter to make claims that address and affect the nature of our existence as the people of God. This process is ultimately tied to leading the interpreter and the disciple into a life of mission wherein the people of God come to understand the theological implications of their action in the world. Theological reflection and appropriation of the text in a “living exegesis” (160) is ultimately the goal of the exegetical process.
Following the introduction to the “Task” (9-33), the author introduces the reader to a section on the “Text” (35-59). Here Gorman leads the reader through a discussion of choosing a particular text, translations, translation methodology and choosing the appropriate translation for the purpose of exegetical study. This section is full of practical and insightful advice. Gorman advises exegetes to choose a text that will not be emotionally charged, but rather choose a text that one can learn from (even if it is a familiar text) and that is limited in scope. Choosing an entire chapter for an exegetical paper is almost certainly doomed to be too much to chew. Instead it is recommended that an exegete choose a natural section (36).
The discussion of translations proceeds to a discussion concerning what kind of translation is appropriate for the exegetical process. The author encourages study of the original languages, but does not make it a matter of necessity; instead the exegete should choose a “good” translation, one based on a fairly literal interpretation (formal equivalence) of the original languages (43). This discussion leads the author to make recommendations on English translations appropriate for exegesis. The author concludes that the NRSV, NAB, TNIV, and NET are most suitable for exegetical study. He also concludes (somewhat prejudicially) that the KJV and NKJV are unacceptable for exegesis. This discussion is followed by practical advice for choosing a Study Bible.
Section two houses the ‘meat’ of the book. Here Gorman leads the reader through the seven elements that make for successful exegetical papers. This is where the reader is lead through a step-by-by methodology that relies primarily on synchronic methods, but supported by diachronic methods. Element one is the survey. Here the interpreter orients him or herself with the text surveying and observing the text to be studied. It is at this stage that the exegetical paper begins to develop its thesis. Gorman is very clear to note that a successful exegetical paper is not a position paper (a paper laying out different interpretations) or a summary of commentary paper (integration of commentaries), but rather is a paper that seeks to prove a point (66). This requires the interpreter to seek to organize their paper around their thesis statement. Gorman highly emphasizes the necessity to become familiar with the text before the interpreter begins to research the commentaries.
The second element is familiarization with the context of the biblical text. This requires a study of the historical, literary, and canonical context of the text at hand. Gorman notes that “Close analysis… requires,… careful attention to its historical and literary contexts” (69). The historical context requires historical, sociopolitical, and cultural contexts to be studied and understood at least in part (72). The literary context clues the interpreter to the text’s place in the broader text as well as the immediate devices being employed especially with reference to its rhetorical power (77).
Element three involves formal analysis of the text. Here is where the author argues for synchronic methodology in its clearest form. Gorman argues that the interpreter must be familiar with literary form (genre), the structure of the text (outlines, structural patterns), and the movement (dynamics) of the text.
Following a formal analysis of the literary structure of the text Gorman argues that the interpreter should move on to a detailed analysis of the text. Here is where the hermeneutical circle (movement from large to small, small to large, broad to immediate, immediate to broad) becomes necessary. In a detailed analysis of the text the interpreter is trying to discover the many intricacies of the text itself and within relationship to its broader contexts. The interpreter must consider key words, key images, key themes, key literary devices, key historical events, and all of this finds its relationship to the broader movement of the text within the book itself and within the canon itself. Here the interpreter is looking to find relationships (113-116). These relationships can move beyond the biblical canon to include literary and cultural relationship. Gorman argues that this “intertextuality” sees the text as in conversation with the text itself and the culture in which the text finds itself (119).
Elements five and six move in the direction of synthesis and theological reflection. This is where the “trees” give way to the “forest.” In the synthesis portion of exegetical study the interpreter is “bringing together” (127) all that has been worked through to this point and the “bringing together” becomes organized around the thesis of the paper. In order to successfully defend the thesis the interpreter is burdened to demonstrate in humility (129) that the intricacies (trees) of the text point in the direction of the interpreter’s exegetical decisions (forest). Gorman moves to discuss the welcomed ambiguous and polyvalent nature of the text. The exegetical process and its synthesis does not necessarily guarantees unity among interpreters given that the text and its interpretation requires multiple points of reference which is impossible for one single interpreter to maintain. Gorman argues that this ambiguity does not induce nihilism or irrationalism but instead “drives us to the text” (132). Given a theological commitment to the text the interpreter can expect a multiplicity of voices among the people of God.
Having arrived at a synthesis the interpreter moves to the theological interpretation of the text. Assuming a hermeneutic of trust, the interpreter can move within the text to “appropriate its message as a guide for contemporary belief and behavior within a community of faith” (146). After discussing eight principles of theological interpretation Gorman finalizes his discussion with a treatment of a theological interpretation that moves the reader to the mission dei (155) and its role in appropriation of the text. An exegetical paper is not the end (telos) in itself.
Element seven is primarily a treatment of making use of other tools such as commentaries and journal articles that will help the interpreter in the refinement of his or her exegetical thesis.
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Exegesis may be defined as the careful historical, literary, and theological analysis of a text. &quote;
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This approach looks only at the final form of the text, the text as it stands in the Bible as we have it. &quote;
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the synchronic approach uses methods designed to analyze the text itself and the text in relation to the world in which it first existed as a text. &quote;
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