Integrating Past Scholarship and Commentary into Your Biblical Exegesis

This post is part of a series on illuminating Scripture through personal study that follows biblical exegesis methods. Read the Introduction article: Illuminating the Scriptures: A Comprehensive Guide to Biblical Exegesis.

After establishing a solid foundation through a structured outline and a clear working thesis for your exegesis paper, the next critical step is to engage with past scholarship and commentary. This phase enriches your analysis by situating your work within the broader academic conversation on your biblical passage. Let’s delve into how to effectively incorporate insights from biblical scholars and commentators into your research.


The aim here is to engage with previous scholars’ interpretations and insights critically. This engagement validates your research and deepens your understanding by considering various scholarly perspectives.

Researching Past Scholarship:

  1. Diverse Perspectives:
    • Seek out a range of commentators, including Jewish scholars, Christian church elders, and contemporary biblical scholars. This diversity enriches your analysis by providing various interpretations and understandings.
  2. Recent and Relevant Scholarship:
    • Focus on incorporating recent commentary (post-1995) relevant to your specific passage. Recent scholarship ensures that your research is up-to-date, while relevance guarantees that the insights you incorporate directly pertain to your analysis.

Paraphrasing and Quoting:

  • When integrating insights from scholars, paraphrase their interpretations to fit the flow of your paper while providing precise citations. Direct quotes should be used sparingly and only when the original wording is particularly impactful or significant.

Critical Analysis:

  • Go beyond merely summarizing past scholarship. Critically analyze and interact with these perspectives. Agree or disagree with their interpretations, providing reasons and evidence from the text. This critical engagement demonstrates your analytical skills and contributes to the scholarly conversation.

Example of Engagement:

Suppose your passage is from Exodus. You might reference how Carol Meyers interprets the societal and cultural implications of the Exodus narrative, comparing her insights with those of a Jewish commentator like Nahum Sarna, who might focus on the covenantal aspects. This comparative analysis allows you to present a nuanced understanding of your passage.

Challenges and Solutions:

  • Challenge: Overwhelmed by the volume of available scholarship.
    • Solution: Focus on sourcing commentaries directly addressing your passage or its significant themes. Utilize bibliographies from trusted sources to identify key works.
  • Challenge: Balancing diverse viewpoints.
    • Solution: Highlight the spectrum of interpretations without losing sight of your thesis. Use these varied perspectives to bolster the depth and complexity of your analysis.


Incorporating past scholarship and commentary into your exegesis paper is essential for situating your research within the larger academic dialogue. It demonstrates your understanding of the passage and its scholarly interpretations and enhances the credibility and depth of your analysis.

Next Steps:

With a comprehensive integration of past scholarship, the next phase of your exegesis project involves applying your passage to contemporary contexts. This application bridges the ancient text with modern life, illustrating the enduring relevance of the Bible.

Want to Go Deeper?

As you delve into past scholarship, share intriguing insights or challenging perspectives you’ve encountered. Use #BiblicalExegesisProject to engage with others on this scholarly journey. Remember, engaging with past scholarship is about gathering opinions and weaving a rich tapestry of understanding that supports and enriches your thesis.


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