This article will help you use the features in BibleWorks for the most common steps in writing an exegetical paper. Pick and choose from these steps and procedures to meet your class requirements. You may need to supplement this list of tools and procedures with other tools in BibleWorks and library resources.
Set Up Your Study Notes
Depending upon your personal preference, you may want to create a set of notes and program setup specifically for this exegetical paper or for all your college, seminary, or university studies. Write your paper information in the Notes tab in the Analysis Window. When you have the checkbox for Chapter checked at the top of the Notes tab you are making a chapter note (click here for a video). When you have Chapter unchecked you are making a verse note (click here for a video). The notes will always display when you are on that chapter or verse in the Browse Window. Click here for a video on the Notes tab.
Each step in the procedure below lists which set of notes you should use for that step. At the end of this procedure, you can use the Report Generator to gather your verse and chapter notes together into one document.
The Add/Modify Hyperlink Text button in the Notes tab: When you display the full array of buttons for the Notes tab you can add hyperlinks for later reference to the resources you access in BibleWorks from the Resources Summary tab. On the bottom row of the buttons there is a button that looks like two links of a chain. The arrow next to it offers several options that will allow you to insert links to verses and resources in BibleWorks into your notes. When referencing a passage in your chapter or verse notes, use the Insert Current Verse as Link feature in the editor. When referencing a grammar or Bible dictionary, use the Insert Link to Last LG Resource feature. When referencing a lexicon, use the Insert Link to Last Lexicon Access feature. These links provide quick access for you to return to those verses and resources for future investigation with a click of the mouse.
Define Your Study Passage
Begin your study of the passage by defining the limits of the passage. The Bible Outline tool provides a convenient beginning and ending point. You can see the Bible Outline at the top of the Browse Window. Click the dropdown box arrow to the right of the outline to see the remainder of the outline. Click here for a video about the Bible Outline.
Refine your passage limits by reading the passage and noticing the grammatical transitions and the main thoughts that run through the passage. Each section should have one major thought. When the major thought changes, this indicates a new section. Grammatical features such as conjunctions, time changes, verb changes, and other such items can provide supporting evidence for a new section (See Levinson, Discourse Features of New Testament Greek, 271-84). Take notes on your observations in your chapter notes.
Identify the Main Message of the Passage
As you read through the passage to define its limits, you found the major thought of the passage. Often this major thought will be the main message of the passage, though certain sections, such as letter introductions or conclusions, may not have a clearly-defined main message. Record your conclusions in your chapter notes.
Identify Historical and Cultural Clues in the Passage
Read the entire book and observe historical and cultural clues in the passage. Look for indications of the date, author, recipients, and historical situation. Pay special attention to any cultural issues in your immediate passage that may be important for interpreting the passage.
You may want to consult Bible dictionaries for background information. You can open the Bible dictionaries from the BibleWorks menu Resources, and then select Bible Dictionaries. Click on dictionaries to choose a dictionary and choose your topic in the dictionary browse window. Record your observations in your chapter notes.
Identify and Investigate Textual Variants in the Greek New Testament
Sometimes Greek New Testament manuscripts contain readings that differ from one another. Various tools in BibleWorks allow the interpreter to make informed choices concerning these textual variants. The process of making an informed choice between textual variants is called textual criticism. As you perform textual criticism, enter the information in your verse notes.
Comparing Greek or English Texts
Comparing Greek texts provides visible clues where textual variants may influence translation decisions. Comparing English translations gives a quick visual reference for different ways to translate a passage. By comparing translations produced according to different translation theories you can more quickly see interpretive problems and proposed solutions.The text coloring settings will still apply even if all the versions are not displayed in the Browse Window, but you probably will want to display each of your chosen versions so you can compare them.
Difference Highlighting and the Text Comparison Settings tool provide a way to quickly see where two or more BibleWorks Greek versions differ.
Click here for a video on how to Display Differences Between Versions Using a Browse Window Option or see that same video under Help | How-to Videos in BibleWorks 9.
Difference Highlighting can be turned on or off on using the main menu in BibleWorks by clicking on View, then select Show/Hide and on the sub-menu click Difference Highlighting. You can also turn it on by clicking on the Browse Window Options button at the top of the Browse Window, then find and click Toggle Difference Highlighting or using a keyboard shortcut in the Browse Window if you click within the Browse Window text area and press the 'e' key on your computer keyboard.
Text Comparison Settings is an alternative tool that you can use to compare texts. Click here for a video on how to Display Differences Between Versions Using Text Comparison Settings or see that same video under Help | How-to Videos in BibleWorks 9.
To open Text Comparison Settings on the main menu select Tools, Viewing the Text and then select Text Comparison Settings. In the top line of the Text Comparison Settings window, under Versions to Compare, type the three-letter abbreviations for the versions you wish to compare to each other. (The base text for comparison is the first version abbreviation on the left.) For our example, if you wish to compare the Nestle-Aland critical text (BNT), the Robinson-Pierpont Majority Text (BYZ), and the Textus Receptus (SCR). Type bnt byz scr in the top line and select the Enable checkbox for the first line.
The background color for the comparison is light green by default. Now you need to display these Greek texts in the Browse Window. On the main menu select View, and then Choose Display Version(s). Under Greek select the BNT, BYZ, and SCR versions. Click the OK button.
The Collation Pane at the top of the Mss tab in the Analysis Window is another useful tool for comparing Greek texts. When you are viewing a New Testament text in the Browse Window it displays provides a table that highlights the differences in words used, spelling, accents and word order between the Greek New Testament versions used in BibleWorks. Clicking on the Tools button at the top of the Mss tab will allow you to add or subtract Greek New Testament versions displayed there when you choose Collation Options.
Comparing Greek texts will not provide all the information that a textual apparatus provides, but it does provide a quick way to see where text-types differ. The following indicates
BYZ is the Majority Text, a text that represents the Byzantine family of manuscripts.
SCR and STE display the Textus Receptus, a Greek text developed from a small subset of manuscripts belonging to the Byzantine text family.
TIS is an eclectic text that favors readings from the Greek manuscript Sinaiticus.
M-01A is the transcribed text of the Greek manuscript Sinaiticus
WHO is an eclectic text that favors readings from the Greek manuscript Vaticanus.
BNT, GNT, and BGT are eclectic texts that draw from all the text types. These Greek texts are similar to WHO but containing more readings that agree with BYZ.
Using a Textual Apparatus
The tool that provides the most comprehensive collection of textual variants is a textual apparatus.
BibleWorks 9 comes with the Center for New Testament Textual Studies' New Testament Critical Apparatus (CNTTS). This extensive database is an ongoing project devoted to recording and distributing a full critical apparatus built from thousands of manuscripts. The BibleWorks edition of the CNTTS NT Critical Apparatus makes it simple to access and to search the apparatus data. The BibleWorks edition has enhanced the database by adding a manuscript date and Aland category matrix for each variant reading. As you browse the text of the Bible, the CNTTS database tracks and displays in the Verse tab in the Analysis Window. To find the apparatus, make sure that you are viewing a New Testament verse in the Browse Window, then click on the Verse tab and choose CNTTS Apparatus from the drop-down list.
The CNTTS apparatus displays information on the textual variants found in the Greek manuscripts for the verse you are studying. Click here for a video on how to use the CNTTS apparatus. You can also view the video under Help | How-to Videos in BibleWorks 9 or hold your mouse cursor over the apparatus and hit the F1 key for the Help file article concerning the apparatus.
Consulting Text Critical Notes
The NET Bible notes contain information about the textual choices made by the translators and editors of the NET Bible. The NET Bible notes appear in the Verse tab when you choose NET Bible from the drop down list. The text critical notes have the prefix tc. For an example of how the NET Bible discusses textual variants, see the two notes in 1 Peter 1:22.
Descriptions of Manuscripts and the Process of Doing Textual Criticism
The process of doing New Testament Textual Criticism involves evaluating manuscripts, readings, and manuscript relationships. This task involves knowing the approximate age of the manuscripts. There are various lists in BibleWorks that help with this task.
When using the CNTTS Apparatus, you can click on the designation for the manuscript to go to a page that describes its age, content, location and Aland category classification. The double arrows, >> , after the lines indicating the variants will display a chart that displays the manuscripts that have the variant reading categorized by date and Aland category. You can check the meaning of each Aland category by clicking on the roman numeral for that category at the top of the chart. Use the left most arrow at the top of the Verse tab to return back to the CNTTS display.
Two add-on modules for BibleWorks provide additional resources for textual criticism. The appendix in Metzger's Textual Commentary provides a list of Greek manuscripts and dates for selected manuscripts. Comfort and Barrett's The Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts, available as an add-on module in BibleWorks, contains introductions that list the approximate dates of these early papyri manuscripts.Metzger's Textual Commentary lists other items of value to performing New Testament textual criticism. In his introduction Metzger gives a brief history of the transmission of the Greek text, including a description of the Alexandrian, Western, Caesarean, and Byzantine text-types. He also includes a brief listing of the criteria for selecting a variant reading. Finally, Metzger provides a list of important witnesses for textual criticism, arranged according to text-type. Click here to purchase activation codes for those modules.
Finding, Listing, and Evaluating Variant Readings
The process of doing textual criticism begins by noticing the variant reading. By comparing the versions and consulting the textual commentaries, you can find the most significant textual variants for your attention.
The second step is to find and record the manuscript evidence for the variant readings. The tables accessed with the >> in the CNTTS Apparatus can be a good beginning toward this.
At the bottom of this article you will find a link to download a "Worksheet for New Testament Textual Criticism" with a table that can be useful for listing the manuscript evidence. It allows you to record and see the manuscript support for each variant arranged according to text-type. You can download and open a copy of this document in the BibleWorks Editor. Copy the Greek New Testament passage from the Browse Window to location indicted in the document at the top. Enter the variant readings in the left column, and the supporting manuscripts under the correct text-type heading according to the list (see the introduction in Metzger's Textual Commentary). List the papyri first, the uncials next, and the minuscules last. Place the manuscript date in parentheses following the manuscript. Enter a question mark if the date is unknown. Evidence from the Church Fathers, early versions, and lectionaries goes in the final column.
After listing the manuscript evidence, evaluate the evidence according to the criteria in the introduction to Metzger's Textual Commentary. Enter your discussion and conclusion to the textual problem in the 'Evidence and Evaluation' space below the table. Be sure to interact with the textual commentaries when they offer discussion on the variant reading.
Discuss the Grammar and Meaning of Words
An exegetical paper is a teaching tool that enhances and evaluates your ability to work in the Greek and Hebrew text. An important part of working in these original language texts is the proper use important tools and texts for studying those original language texts. While this part of the exegetical paper is time-consuming for the beginning student, it is important for obtaining the necessary skills for performing proper interpretation.
Each word represents a collection of grammatical choices. You need to know the meaning of the word and its grammatical function in the sentence. The aspiring exegete needs to learn what questions to ask and how to arrive at the most likely answer to these questions.
Investigate the Grammar through Greek and Hebrew Grammars
Consult the grammars for the possible grammatical usage of each word. In your verse notes list the word, and discuss each of the possible grammatical uses.
For example, in 1 Peter 1:6 the word for rejoice, ἀγαλλιᾶσθε , is either a present indicative or a present imperative verb. If you were working on this verse you would discuss the evidence for these two options.
It is easy to access information about grammatical constructions is through the Resources Summary tab in the Analysis Window. Pay special attention when a grammar discusses your passage. Be sure to interact with the grammar when it discusses a word or phrase in your passage and uses it as an example.
Click here for a video on how to consult a Greek grammar.
Click here for a video on how to consult a Hebrew grammar.
Investigate Word Meaning through Greek and Hebrew Lexicons
Investigating word meaning is related to investigating the grammar, as each influences the other. At times the lexicons will list specific meanings of a word depending upon its grammatical form. Pay special attention to these occurrences.
Click here for a video on how to view a lexicon entry in the Analysis tab. Click here for a video on how to look up a Greek word in a lexicon with the mouse and click here for how to lookup a Hebrew word.
One of the easiest ways to access information from the lexicons is right clicking on a Greek or Hebrew word in the Browse Window and choosing Lookup Lemma in Lexicon Browser. It will open the Lexicon Browser to the last lexicon that had been accessed for the language of the word you clicked on. There's also a right click option to Send Verse to Lexicon Browser that will send all the words in the verse to the Lexicon Browser so you can research multiple words in one or more lexicons without repeatedly opening the Lexicon Browser on a per word basis. Clicking on the Lexicons menu item in the Lexicon Browser will allow you to change lexicons to see how that word is defined and discussed in each lexicon in BibleWorks.
You can also open lexicons by using the Resources Summary tab in the Analysis Window. Pay special attention when a lexicon discusses your passage. Click here for an overview of the operation of the Analysis tab that also covers the use of the Resources Summary tab.
In your verse notes list the possible word meanings for the word as it used in the context of the passage. You can obtain a list of possible word meanings from the lexicons. Evaluate each word meaning and give evidence for your choice. Be sure to interact with the lexicon when it mentions your word in the passage as an example. Look for highlighting of the verse reference in the lexicon article.
Investigate Grammar and Word Meaning through Searches
Grammars and lexicons usually only provide general information about how a grammatical construction or word is used. Often they are not specific to your immediate context or to the specific use by the author of the passage you are studying. By searching and evaluating each search result you can find specific usage patterns for the words in your passage.
At times it is helpful to see if a word develops throughout time. This is called a diachronic word study. Evaluating how a word is used in contemporaneous literature is called a synchronic word study. BibleWorks allows you to set search limits to perform synchronic word studies.
For example, to help with our evaluation of ἀγαλλιᾶσθεin 1 Peter 1:6, we can set our search limits to 1 Peter, and then we can search on all forms of this word in 1 Peter in the BGM morphological Greek text. We find 3 occurrences of the word in 1 Peter.
By setting different search limits and searching other texts we can quickly perform diachronic word studies with BibleWorks. By limiting our search of the BGM to the Septuagint (LXX), we can see how the word ἀγαλλιᾶσθε was used hundreds of years earlier than the writing of 1 Peter. We can also limit our search to the Gospels, to the Pauline writings, and to other New Testament books. Click here for a video on how to set search limits.
By selecting Search on the BibleWorks menu and choosing Cross Version Search Mode, and then selecting Search and Display All Same Language Versions, you can quickly find every place where our word occurs in every Greek language resource. In this way we can easily search Josephus, Philo, the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha and the Apostolic Fathers at the same time to see how extra-Biblical writings use the word. Similar searches are possible for the Hebrew text. Click here for a video on how to use the Cross Version Search Mode.
Be sure to record your observations and evaluations in your verse notes. You can use the Insert Current Verse as Link feature in for the extra-Biblical books, as well.
BibleWorks offers special search features that the printed concordances do not offer. Printed concordances only offer searches for words, not grammar. In BibleWorks you can also search for grammatical usage patterns. For example, you can search the BGM for all imperative verbs in 1 Peter, and we find 39 hits. This search ability is especially helpful when you find unusual phrases. With BibleWorks you can construct a search that will find similar phrases so that you can evaluate more accurately the meaning of the phrase in your book.
After you run a search, you may wish to create a statistical chart of your search findings. After running the search, select the Stats tab. After the tab opens, showing your search results in the chart, you can select various plotting options using the dropdown list boxes in the Stats tab to best represent your search results.
Identify the Passage Structure
An important part of interpreting a passage is understanding its larger structure. Using the Diagramming Module, you an create your own diagram of the passage or view a diagram that comes with BibleWorks. Open the Diagramming Module by selecting Tools, Language Tools, and then choosing Diagramming Module.
Click here for a video on how to View a New Testament Diagram. Click here for a video that shows you a quick way to open a New Testament Diagram from a Greek verse on display in the Browse Window, its as simple as right clicking on a Greek New Testament word and choosing Open NT Diagram at this Word.
Take special note of the structure that appears in your diagram. Notice the conjunctions, shifts in verb tense, transitions, and other structure indicators. After your diagram is completed, you can export the diagram as a picture and include it in your chapter notes (use Edit | Copy selected items as vectors (for external program) to get the best results in resizing your diagram after export. Based upon your diagram, create an outline of your passage in your chapter notes. The structural features in your diagram provide the main and sub points in your outline.
Describe the Theology of the Passage
In your chapter notes describe the theology of the passage. What does your passage contribute to the theology of the book? What does it contribute to the theology of the rest of the Bible? Does the author of your passage present the theology from the same or a different perspective from other Biblical passages that address the same theological topic? Many questions could be asked of the passage from what you have learned. What does this passage tell us about God, the nature of the world and the created order, humanity and our relation to God, redemption, judgment, God's grace and justice, human relationships, God's ultimate purpose in history, the future order and our time in history today?
Write an Expanded, Interpretive Translation of the Passage
In your chapter notes, write an expanded, interpretive translation of your passage. This translation exercise helps you and your professor see how well you understand the grammar and meaning of the passage. Be sure that none of your translation is ambiguous. Your translation must clearly convey to the reader exactly what you believe the passage is teaching.
List Practical Applications from the Passage
In your chapter notes, list and describe practical applications that the passage presents. Be sure that your applications have a solid foundation in the passage. Consider the parallels between the original recipients and modern readers. When the cultural issues are not the same, consider what are the contemporary cultural issues most similar to the ancient issues.
Gather Your Notes into One Exegetical Paper
Now it is time to gather your chapter and verse notes into one paper. Select Tools | Importing/exporting information, and then choose Report Generator. Enter the verse range of your passage in the Range box. Under Versions, include the Greek or Hebrew text as appropriate for your paper. Under Report Options, check Include Chapter Notes and Include Verse Notes. Uncheck all other boxes. Click the Build Report button, and your exegetical paper appears as a new document in an Editor window. You can save the paper as an RTF document and open it in your word processor for further formatting to meet your class requirements. Click here for a video that shows how.
Black, David Alan. Using New Testament Greek in Ministry: A Practical Guide for Students and Pastors. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1993.
Black, David Alan, ed. Rethinking New Testament Textual Criticism. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2003.
Black, David Alan and David S. Dockery, eds. Interpreting the New Testament: Essays on Methods and Issues. Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2001.
Chisholm, Robert B., Jr. From Exegesis to Exposition: A Practical Guide to Using Biblical Hebrew. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1998.
Ehrman, Bart D. and Michael W. Holmes, eds. The Text of the New Testament in Contemporary Research: Essays on the Status Quaestionis. Studies and Documents. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1995.
Fee, Gordon D. New Testament Exegesis: A Handbook for Students and Pastors. 3rd ed. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2002.
Grassmick, John D. Principles and Practice of Greek Exegesis: A Classroom Manual. Dallas: Dallas Theological Seminary, 1976.
Greenlee, J. Harold. Introduction to New Testament Textual Criticism. Rev. ed. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1995.
Kaiser, Walter C., Jr. Toward an Exegetical Theology: Biblical Exegesis for Preaching and Teaching. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1981.
Levinson, Stephen H. Discourse Features of New Testament Greek: A Coursebook on the Information Structure of New Testament Greek. 2nd ed. Dallas: SIL International, 2000.
MacDonald, William Graham. Greek Enchiridion: A Concise Handbook of Grammar for Translation and Exegesis. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1986. Electronic edition, BibleWorks, LLC, 2005.
McKnight, Scot. Interpreting the Synoptic Gospels. Guides to New Testament Exegesis. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1988.
McKnight, Scot, ed. Introducing New Testament Exegesis. Guides to New Testament Exegesis. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1989.
Metzger, Bruce M. The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration. 3rd, enlarged ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992.
Metzger, Bruce M. A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament. 2nd ed. Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1998.
Schreiner, Thomas R. Interpreting the Pauline Epistles. Guides to New Testament Exegesis. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1990.
Stuart, Douglas. Old Testament Exegesis: A Handbook for Students and Pastors. 3rd ed. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2001.
Young, Richard A. Intermediate New Testament Greek: A Linguistic and Exegetical Approach. Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 1994.