Writing a paper on a biblical word can feel overwhelming at first, but it doesn’t have to. We’ve outlined essential steps for writing a paper that demonstrates a sophisticated understanding of a Greek or Hebrew word—and its significance for biblical interpretation.
This overview is based on the Word Study (Original Languages) Workflow that is built right into Logos Bible Software. Learn more.
1. Research biblical word usage
Once you’ve chosen a word for your word study, you need to examine word usage. There are three steps you’ll need to take to accomplish this:
A. Research word occurrences and translation
You want to see how many times and where your word appears in the Bible. You can do this with a paper concordance (which can take quite a while) or do it in a couple clicks with Logos.
B. Research lexicon entries
“Lexicon” is just another word for a specialized dictionary. In this case, a dictionary on Greek or Hebrew words. Keep in mind that dictionaries don’t determine meaning, they are simply a quick reference that captures how words are used.
C. Research senses of the word
Words can be used in many different ways; they have a range of meaning. Logos has a built-in tool called the Bible Sense Lexicon that shows you all the different senses a word might have in Scripture. Consulting this will help you better understand possible translations for your word.
2. Consult commentaries for lemma discussion
Commentaries often discuss key terms or important words in the context of the passage where they occur. Since these discussions are focused on a specific passage, they may provide useful, in-depth information on how the word is used in that passage.
You can find where commentaries discuss your word in one of two ways:
A. Look it up in paper commentaries
If you own some commentaries that include discussions of the original languages, look up passages that use your word. Keep your eyes peeled for your Greek or Hebrew word or the transliteration of your word.
B. Use Logos to find everywhere your commentaries mention the word
Logos has a tool called “Lemma in Passage.” You just look up your word and Logos shows you everywhere your commentaries mentions that original language word. You’ll get more results than doing it manually, and it takes just a second or two to get a complete list.
3. Compare early extra-biblical sources
Ancient believers weren’t the only ones to write Greek and Hebrew. That’s why if you want to truly understand the significance of Greek and Hebrew words, you have to go outside the Bible to other contemporary literature. For example, comparing usages of your word in ancient Greek resources by the Apostolic Fathers will give you a much better sense of the word’s range of meanings.
4. Record and share observations
Naturally, you’ll be recording notes and keeping track of your source material for building your bibliography. Some students prefer paper notes, while others rely on digital note apps for this step in the process. Logos comes with a built-in note-taking system that was created with studying the Bible in mind. Notes stick to the passage or word your studying so you always know where to find it. Logos will even build your bibliography for you.
There’s lots more that goes into writing an effective paper on a biblical word. But if you follow the steps above, you’ll be well on your way to writing a paper that not only helps you better understand God’s Word—it also might just earn you an “A,” too.
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