REL 113: Old Testament Faith and History. Exegesis Project Guidelines: Proposal and Self-Evaluation. RJDK

Fill out PART 1 as your initial proposal, including a 10-item preliminary bibliography as specified (due at beginning of Week 7). 

Fill out PART 2 as your revised proposal, including your 4-item selected bibliography and a 1-page substantive summary of your proposed argument in outline form (due at the end of Week 8).

Visit the Writing Center upon completing a good draft of your paper, then get a partner to exchange “peer reviews” with you, using the form and criteria given on the back of the form for Parts 2/3 (you will turn this in with your paper).  Then revise accordingly.

Fill out PART 3 (the self-evaluation, including the date of your visit to the Writing Center - required for all students) and turn it in along with your marked-up initial and revised proposals, peer review, copies of sources, and the completed paper (due in Week 11). 

The Exegesis Project is NOT primarily a research paper, but rather an essay which closely analyzes a specific biblical text, giving your own thematic analysis of its implications and significance, and then seeking to make some relevant application to modern life issues.  The suggested bibliographical items are to inform you about relevant issues, but keep in mind that I am primarily looking for your own thoughts, evaluations and analysis.  Do not spend overly much space summarizing other people’s work.  You will need to have a thesis and argument that you are making about your topic, and your analysis should begin with the original intended meaning and significance of the Old Testament text(s) you have chosen. 

The target length for the paper is 6 pages (excluding bibliography), of which the first 5 should be analysis of your chosen biblical text (from the Old Testament), proving your thesis, and the last page should apply that thesis to some modern-day situation (note that if your application is longer than 1 page you may expand the length of the paper, but do not shorten the analysis). 

You must type using 12-point Times New Roman font, double-spaced, with 1-inch margins all around, and number your pages.   

Use quotation marks for all quotes.  Longer quotes (over 5 lines) should be single spaced and indented.  All quotes as well as paraphrased or summarized ideas should have proper citation.  Citation of biblical passages should take the form of "Book Ch.#:Verses" (e.g. Exodus 6:4-5) instead of page numbers, unless you are using the marginal notes, in which case you must give page number and identify your edition.  Bibliography and Citations can use MLA format (guidelines available in the library at the Reference and Circulation desks.   Here is a sample:

    Author. Commentary Title. City: Publisher, Year. Pages.
    Author. “Article Title.” Dictionary Title. Editor, Ed. City: Publisher, Year. Volume: Pages.
    Author. “Article Title.” Journal Name Volume # (year): pages.
Citations within the text of your paper can then simply consist of: (author, page #s).
A short title is included in the citation if there is more than one source with the same author.

Your final bibliography for the Exegesis Project should include (at a minimum):
1.        The Bible. Your paper should use and analyze in detail at least one specific biblical passage.
2.        Class Notes and Course Textbooks, if used.
3.        A Biblical Commentary for your text (BS192 or BS1200 and following in library stacks).
4.        An article from a Bible Dictionary on your topic (e.g. Anchor Bible Dictionary, Ref. BS440).
5.        Two articles from academic journals related to your topic using the ATLA Religion Index, at  You can also look for relevant bibliographical items listed at the ends of the Bible Dictionary articles and/or other journal articles, or cited in the commentaries.

Hard copies of the completed paper should be submitted in my box (outside AC D-320) along with your marked-up initial and revised proposals, an adequate bibliography as specified in the guidelines, a self-evaluation (including the date of your visit to the writing center, required for all students), a peer review, and copies of your sources. 

All papers must also be submitted electronically at (class ID 1775900, enrollment password “ot07”). 
Remember:  The difference between Research and Plagiarism is only proper referencing!

PART 1: Exegesis Project Proposal    REL 113: Old Testament Faith and History.       RJDKnauth

Your Name:

Title of Paper (be creative!):

Specific Topic:

Primary Old Testament Text(s) to be analyzed:
(be specific, giving biblical book, chapter and verses)

Proposed Thesis:


Preliminary Bibliography (10 items)-

   A. Three Bible Dictionary articles.  Find articles related to your topic in the Anchor Bible Dictionary (Ref. BS440), New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible (Ref. BS), and Encyclopedia Judaica (Ref. BM) and list them below giving Author (listed at end of article), article title, Dictionary volume:pages, editor, city: publisher, year. Then choose the most helpful and mark it with an asterisk.




   B. Three Commentaries. Find three commentaries for your chosen biblical text from the New Interpreter’s Bible (Ref BS), the Anchor Bible (stacks BS192), and individual volumes (BS1200à) and list them below giving Author (listed at beginning of section in Interpreters Bible), Title (of volume), vol., pages, city, publisher, year. Then choose the most helpful and mark it with an asterisk.




   C. Four Journal Articles. Find four journal articles related to your topic using the ATLA Religion Index database on the Snowden Library web page and list them below giving Author, “Article Title,” Journal name, volume # (year): pages.  Then choose the two most helpful and mark them with asterisks.  Request them by Interlibrary Loan immediately if they are not already in our library or available on-line with full-text.





PART 2: Revised Exegesis Proposal    REL 113: Old Testament Faith and History.             RJDKnauth
 (turn in revision along with 1-pg summary of your proposed argument in outline form, typed, on due date)

Your Name:

Title of Paper (be creative!):

Specific Topic:

Primary Old Testament Text(s) to be analyzed:
(be specific, giving biblical book, chapter and verses)

Revised Thesis:


Selected Bibliography (only asterisked items from preliminary bibliography) *-
   1. Bible Dictionary Article:
   2. Commentary:
   3. 1st Journal Article:
   4. 2nd Journal Article:

Attach a substantive outline summarizing your proposed argument, typed
(often it is helpful to incorporate this outline within the text as subheadings).

PART 3: Self-Evaluation (turn in with paper on due date, along with "peer review" on next page)

Title (if different):

Specific Topic (if different):

Thesis (state here and also underline in text of paper):


Assigned length of project (using 12-point Times New Roman font, double-spaced, w/ 1-inch margins):  6 pages.
Actual length (use 12-pt Times New Roman font, double space w/ 1-inch margins, and number pages!): _____.

What you like best about your paper (mark in text with *J*!):


What you would most like to improve about your paper if you had the time:


What grade do YOU think your paper deserves (see criteria below)**? ______

How many hours did you spend on it (roughly)? ______

Date of your visit to the writing center (required for all students)? ____


**Grading Criteria [Lewis Hyde’s list (modified), with thanks to Richard Marius’s handbook]
(thesis, use of evidence, organization/structure of argument, counter-argument, grammar/mechanics):

The D or F paper (Unsatisfactory) lacks a clear thesis, or any sort of effective argument.  Paragraphs do not hold together; ideas do
not develop from sentence to sentence but are merely repetitive.  The paper is confusing and shows little indication that the writer
understands the material being presented.  It is filled with mechanical faults, errors in grammar and spelling.

The C paper (Average, Minimally Satisfactory) has a thesis, but it is vague, broad, or uninteresting.  It advances an argument, but
not one that anyone would care to debate.  It states personal opinion without giving adequate justification or defense; supporting
evidence is weak, insufficient or inappropriate.  Mechanical faults are present, though not overwhelming.

The B(+) paper (Good) has a thesis that is specific and worth arguing.  The argument is clear and organized, using supporting
evidence in a way that is informative and generally convincing.  The paper is competent, mechanically correct, and makes sense
throughout.  The reader knows exactly what the author wants to say.

The A paper (Excellent) has all of the good qualities of the B paper, but in addition it is lively, well paced, interesting, even exciting. 
The paper has style.  Everything about it seems to fit the thesis exactly.  The thesis is convincing and sustained throughout. Counter-
arguments are considered and refuted.  The sure mark of an A paper is that the reader will think about the topic in a new way and will
want to tell someone else about it.


For Peer Review - rate the following (E=Excellent, G=Good, F=Fair, N=Needs Work).      Reviewer Name: ______________    

Thesis: clear? Convincing? Significant? Interesting? Original?                                                                   E    G    F    N

Argument: organized? Coherent? Sustained? Effective?                                                                              E    G    F    N

Use of Evidence: convincing? Refutes counter-arguments? More than simplistic analysis?                 E    G    F    N

Use of Sources (Primary and Secondary): accurate? Informative? Relevant?                                           E    G    F    N

Style: well-written? Readable? Clear? Good transitions? Creative?                                                             E    G    F    N

Mechanics (spelling, grammar, syntax, sentence structure): correct?                                                         E    G    F    N

Overall, did you like it?                 Did you enjoy reading it?            Were you convinced?             What grade would you give it?
                                                                                                                                                                                (see criteria above**)
What was the thesis and the main argument?




What did you like most about it?





Suggestions for improvement?



REL 113 Old Testament Faith and History.   Further Guidance for Exegesis Project.                              RJDKnauth

Follow the Exegesis Project Guidelines above carefully.
These guidelines clearly state that the reflection/application is only supposed to be 1 page.
The bulk of the paper should be analysis of the text.
                p. 1: Introduction and thesis.
                p. 2-5: Analysis of the text - its basic message and significance in relation to your thesis.
          p. 6: Application/Reflection.
You can't possibly apply or even reflect on a text until you first understand what it means –  i.e. what the author intends it to mean within his historical/cultural context. Once you understand the nature and significance of your text, you can figure out how it may be related to some sort of modern application.
I really do not want summary of the biblical text.  You should NOT spend any appreciable time merely summarizing the story. 
Also, it is not intended primarily as a research paper, though I do want you to be informed in your own analysis. I certainly do not want summary of what other people have thought about the biblical text. 
What I want is analysis of the text, with some application - sort of like a sermon, but perhaps more focused.
Exegesis means to bring out the meaning of the text.
You need to have a thesis about the meaning and significance of an Old Testament text. 
Then you need to prove that thesis using specific evidence from the Old Testament text.
Our weekly assignments are a good model for this.
The following example with regard to the kingship issue in Judges, as discussed in class, should help to clarify the sort of thing I am looking for in the exegesis paper with respect to analysis of the text.
If you are confused by this, please come talk to me.  My office hours and schedule are posted on my office door (D-320) and web site.  In general I am in my office when not in class.  We can work through some of the issues regarding your particular topic and thesis together.

                              Below is an outline of a sample topic regarding the kingship issue in Judges:
The book of judges is primarily antimonarchic, as demonstrated by the Gideon vs. Abimelech contrast at its center.
1. The book of Judges is arranged chiastically, with Gideon at the center.  The center of the chiasm usually marks the main point (give evidence that Judges is chiastic with Gideon at center).
2. Gideon is shown to be an ideal leader, and at the center of his narrative comes the clear pronouncement of the author's main point: "I will not be your king - God is your king."
3. Abimelech, who makes himself a king by treachery and murder, shows himself to be a terrible leader, the episode ends in disaster.
4. Jotham's fable clearly presents kingship as being worthless - undertaken only by those who have nothing better to do (give quotes).
5. The book of Judges presents kings in general, like Eglon of Moab, to be fat, lazy and foolish (give quote).
6. The main counter-argument to this thesis is that the book of Judges clearly demonstrates that the system of Judges has failed due to a lack of continuity in leadership (give quote).
  a. However, creating an artificial continuity of leadership by instituting dynastic succession leaves no guarantee that the succeeding leader will be any good.
  b. The best case in point for this is again Gideon and Abimelech.  Gideon is a great leader, but Abimelech is a disaster.  
  c. Sons don't always follow in the ways of their fathers - in fact, according to the Deuteronomistic History, they rarely do. 
   Eli is good, his sons are corrupt.  Samuel is good, his sons are corrupt.  Saul is not so good, but his son Jonathan is wonderful, etc. 
  d. Dynastic succession clearly cannot be the answer called for in the book of Judges.
7. Even more, there is the factor of the natural tendency of power to bring corruption.  Gideon, Saul and Solomon all begin well, but after settling in to their power (Gideon after he is offered the kingship) they all begin to abuse it to some degree - perhaps because of the common Canaanite conception of what the rights of kingship are, as demonstrated most clearly by the story of Naboth's vineyard.  Just allowing the title of "King" will naturally lead to corruption, oppression and abuse of power - just as Samuel warns in his farewell speech, and this does, in fact, prove to be the case through the rest of the Deuteronomistic History.
8. In the book of Judges, we see an effort to counter this natural tendency of power to corrupt by making humility one of the primary characteristics of a good leader.  The flip-side of this value is that being power-hungry is an automatic red-flag indicating that a person is unfit for leadership.  Gideon and all of the other ideal Israelite leaders seek to refuse the power when it is offered to them, and act with humility.  Abimelech was prideful and power-hungry - showing him to be an unfit leader.
According to the book of Judges, the ideal leader should be chosen by God rather than by dynastic succession, and should be humble rather than power-seeking.
Because we choose our leaders today by election rather than by dynastic succession, we do not generally face the danger of sons not following in the ways of their fathers.  However, since the election process tends to draw those who are power-seeking rather than humble, and even tends to favor those who are corrupt in the area of securing campaign contributions, it is no surprise that Government corruption in this country is high.  Campaign reform designed to counter this problem might help considerably.  Fostering humility of character is a more difficult challenge.


Some suggestions for sample Exegesis topics.                                                        RJDKnauth

These are only a few ideas, from which you would need to find a focused thesis, argument, and application.
You can work with one of these or come up with your own along the same lines.

The significance of the flood symbolism in baptism (Gen. 6-9, cf 1Peter 3:20-21)
The Covenant of Noah, “Divine Disarmament” and Capital Punishment (Gen. 8-9)
Arguing with God (Gen. 18-19)
The problem of Hagar and Ishmael: banishment of the unchosen? (Gen 21)
The “Binding of Isaac” and the consequences of child abuse (Gen. 22, and Isaac generally)
The “Binding of Isaac” and the justification of God’s ultimate sacrifice (Gen. 22)
How Esau's Blessing was fulfilled (Gen 27, 33, 36, etc.)
Patterns of Reversed Parallel Deceptions in the Jacob Cycle (Gen. 27/29 and 31/44 etc.)
Joseph and the enslavement of Egypt: reaping the consequences of your actions (Gen. 47)
Women in the Life of Moses Representing God's Non-Abandonment vs. Sargon Parallel (Exod. 1-2)
Corporate Responsibility and the Plagues in Egypt: punishing the people for the sin of the leader? (Exod. 7-15)
Rebellion in the Wilderness (Exod 15-17, Num 11-14)
Aaron's Golden Calf (Exod 32-33, 1Kings 12)
Balaam’s Donkey and issues of Cruelty to Animals (Exod. 23:4, 10-12; Num. 22, Jonah 4:11)
Debt Laws and Loan Forgiveness (Deut 15)
Sabbath: Significance and Value Then and Now (Gen. 2:2-3, Exod. 20:8-11, 23:10-12, 31:12-17; Deut 5:12-15)
Gleaning Law, Social Welfare (Ex. 23:10-12; Lev. 19:9-10, 23:22, 25:6-7; Deut. 14:27-29, 15:12-15, 23:24-25,
24:19-22; Ruth)
The problem of vicarious punishment (Deut. 5:9-10, 24:16; 2Sam 12:13-23, 21:1-14; Hammurabi 251 in ANET)
Struggling with the Conquest (Joshua 5-12)
Gideon sending the army home (Judges 7)
Abimelech and the problem of power-grabbing kingship (Judges 8:23, 9:1-57)
Sabotaging the Covenant - What Balaam and Delilah Have in Common... (Numbers 31:16, Judges 16)
The Kinsman Redeemer (Lev. 25, Ruth)
The Ark Narrative: Manipulating the gods? (1Sam. 4-6)
Saul's Death - Regicide or Suicide? (1Sam 31, 2Sam 1)
Saul vs. David: blame-shifting and repentance (1Sam. 13, 15; 2Sam 11-12)
Women's Reflections on the Character of David (Michal, Abigail, Bathsheba and Tamar)
The rejection of Jonathan, the death of Jeroboam’s son: “Only the good die young”
                   (1Sam 14, 19-20, 31; 1Ki 14:12-13)
A Woman's Role (choose 1: Deborah, Michal, Bathsheba, Abigail, Jezebel/Athaliah; cf Proverbs 31)
A House for God? Implications and significance (2Sam. 7, 1Kings 5:3-5, 8:10-30, 1Chron. 22)
Crime and Punishment: does the punishment fit the crime? (2Sam 11-13, 16:20-22)
David’s “succession narrative” and the consequences of failing to act (2Sam 13-20)
Taking Bad Advice (2Sam 16-17, 1Kings 12)
Elijah’s confrontation, depression and theophany (1Kings 18-19)
Naboth’s vineyard and kingly abuse of power (1Kings 21)
Naaman’s Leprosy and the difficulty of easy solutions (2Kings 5)
Different views of Sennacherib’s invasion (2Kings 18-20, 2Chon. 32, Isaiah 36-39)
Obedience, Not Sacrifice (1Sam 15:22, Amos 5, Hosea 6:6, Isaiah 1, etc.)
Manasseh vs. Josiah: is evil stronger than good? (2Kings 21-25)

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