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A Model for Biblical Exegesis

Dennis Bratcher

Adapted by Dennis Bratcher from Frank Carver, "A Working Model for Teaching Exegesis," in Interpreting God's Word for Today: An Inquiry into Hermeneutics from a Biblical Theology Perspective, ed. Wayne McKown and James Massey, Warner Press, 1982.


Understanding the perspective from which one comes in doing biblical interpretation is essential. Also, acknowledging how one views Scripture will often determine the exegetical approach. These are the basic perspectives to approach the interpretation of Scripture from a Wesleyan perspective. 

1. A Wesleyan perspective assumes an incarnational dimension to Scripture. That is, it has a human element and is conditioned by history and culture.

2. Scripture is a Faith document. For Christians, we read Scripture in light of the revelation of God in Jesus the Christ.

3. Scripture is inspired. Without determining exactly how or the manner of inspiration, we assume that the Bible is more than merely human words, and that the Bible continues to function as word of God to the community of Faith.

4. Interpretation is not a matter only of the skill of the interpreter, as important as that is. Interpretation also needs the ongoing work of God through the Holy Spirit to bring that word to life and speak it anew.

5. The Bible is not so much about correct facts as it is about the witness to the work of God in the worlds, past and present.

The Process of Exegesis: Asking the Right Questions

I. Questions of Context

A. The question of Historical Context: Where do we find our text in history?

1. General Historical: What is the life setting of the document in which we find our text?

2. Specific Historical: Is there a definable historical context for the text?

B. The Literary Context: Where is the text located in the larger document of which it is a part?

II. Questions of Meaning

A. How does the author communicate his message?

1. How should the text be translated?

2. What is the structure and form of the text?

3. How should we hear/interpret the language of the text?

B. What is the author attempting to communicate?

III. Questions of Application

A. What does the text tell us about God, us, and our relationship with God?

B. How does the text apply to contemporary life?

1. What do I hear?

2. What should I do?

3. What should I proclaim from this text?

-Dennis Bratcher, Copyright © 2018, Dennis Bratcher - All Rights Reserved
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