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Elements of Biblical Exegesis: A Basic Guide for Students and Ministers

ISBN: 9781441250735

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In this revised and expanded edition of Elements of Biblical Exegesis, Michael J. Gorman presents a straightforward approach to the complex task of biblical exegesis. Designed for students, teachers, and ministers, this hands-on guide breaks the task down into seven distinct elements. For each of these, Gorman supplies a clear explanation, practical hints, and suggested exercises to help the reader develop exegetical proficiency. The new edition addresses more fully the meaning of theological interpretation and provides updated print and internet resources for those who want to pursue further study in any aspect of exegesis.

With Logos Bible Software, it’s easier than ever to use this valuable resource. Elements of Biblical Exegesis integrates seamlessly with your digital library, so you can access it from your desktop, tablet, or smartphone. All Scripture references link directly to the text of the Bible, making your study scripturally sound and rewarding.

Resource Experts
  • Offers three sample exegesis papers
  • Provides practical guidelines for writing an exegetical research paper
  • Includes suggestions for further study
  • Part One: Orientation
    • The Task
    • The Text
  • Part Two: The Elements
    • 1st Element—Survey
    • 2nd Element—Contextual Analysis
    • 3rd Element—Formal Analysis
    • 4th Element—Detailed Analysis of the Text
    • 5th Element—Synthesis
    • 6th Element—Reflection: Theological Interpretation
    • 7th Element—Expansion and Refinement of the Exegesis
  • Part Three: Hints and Resources
    • Exegesis and the Exegete—Errors to Avoid, Discoveries to Make
    • Resources for Exegesis

Top Highlights

“Exegesis may also be defined as a conversation. It is a conversation with readers living and dead, more learned and less learned, absent and present. It is a conversation about texts and their contexts, about sacred words and their claims—and the claims others have made about them. As conversation, exegesis entails listening to others, even others with whom we disagree. It is a process best carried out in the company of other people through reading and talking with them—carefully, critically, and creatively—about texts. The isolated reader is not the ideal biblical exegete.” (Page 11)

“Exegetes should learn to look for indications of the beginning and end of units of thought and expression in the Bible” (Page 37)

“People who do not read the original languages with some degree of competence should stay clear of interlinear Bibles and rely on good translations and solid research for their exegesis.” (Page 39)

“A third factor is the limitation inherent in all translation” (Page 41)

“The first factor is the words themselves, the lexical items, and how they are combined, the syntax” (Page 40)

‘Exegesis’ is not only a strange word, but it can also be a daunting assignment for the newcomer to formal biblical studies. Equally, teaching exegesis can challenge even the seasoned instructor. For both student and teacher, Michael Gorman is a dependable guide and patient companion along the way. My only question is: Where was Elements of Biblical Exegesis when I was a student?

Joel B. Green, professor of New Testament interpretation, Fuller Theological Seminary

No one ever became an exegete by reading a book on exegesis. The gift of Michael Gorman’s book is that he knows that exegetes are born through practice, practice, and more practice. And he invites his readers into just the practice they need, providing them with a rich array of helps along the way. Beginners and improvers alike will benefit from this revised and expanded edition.

Beverly Roberts Gaventa, Helen H. P. Manson Professor of New Testament Literature and Exegesis, Princeton Theological Seminary

This widely used guide provides students, teachers, and ministers with a practical approach to biblical exegesis that is built on a strong theoretical foundation. This revised and expanded edition addresses more fully the meaning of theological interpretation that attends to the biblical text as a vehicle of divine revelation and address.


This is clearly a guide to exegesis. The steps that comprise each approach are explained and elucidated by helpful tables. A step-by-step guideline for writing an exegetical paper as well as sample research papers are found at the end of the book. This is the kind of guide all serious biblical students should study.

The Bible Today

[Gorman] provides a practical page-by-page outline of what a 15-page exegetical paper should look like, gives good pointers on constructing an outline, and literally walks the student through the process with key questions, summaries, and hints. The three papers in the third appendix also faithfully replicate the author’s process.

The Master’s Seminary Journal

Gorman gives practical hints on how to discern the genre, structure, and movement of a passage of Scripture. . . . He helpfully differentiates between different types of ambiguity and draws a distinction between polyvalence and unconstrained interpretation. . . . The book closes with annotated bibliographies of different types of resources for exegesis and three sample exegesis papers. This book is an advance on some other guides that only think in terms of classic types of criticism and fail to reflect the rediscovery of theological interpretation and stop short of practical application. Gorman scores well on these points.

Reformed Theological Review

Perhaps the author’s most valuable philosophical contribution to the task of exegesis . . . is his threefold view of exegesis as investigation, conversation, and art. . . . The book may appeal to general audiences who want to master the basics of biblical exegesis or who wish to explore Scripture from a sound platform. Pastors would benefit by adopting basic principles of exegesis to inform their weekly sermons. Perhaps the strength of the book, however, lies in the time it spends defining the task of exegesis and preparing the student to understand the implications of exegesis. . . . [Gorman’s] methodology . . . provid[es] an insightful guide that can inspire students, laity, and ministers to take the study of the Scriptures more seriously by applying solid elementary principles with effective scholarly skills that can, finally, lead to sound conclusions.

Andrews University Seminary Studies

  • Title: Elements of Biblical Exegesis: A Basic Guide for Students and Ministers
  • Author: Michael J. Gorman
  • Edition: Revised and expanded
  • Publisher: Baker
  • Publication Date: 2008
  • Pages: 304

Michael J. Gorman holds the Raymond E. Brown Chair in Biblical Studies and Theology at St. Mary’s Seminary and University, Baltimore, Maryland. A highly regarded New Testament scholar, he has also written Reading Revelation Responsibly: Uncivil Worship and Witness and Elements of Biblical Exegesis: A Basic Guide for Students and Ministers.


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  1. Charles



  2. Royce Barnett
  3. G. Jorge Medina
    Even with 13% off at $18.99, the $12.99 Kindle edition is still cheaper. :-(
  4. Wonderer



  5. Eric Miller

    Eric Miller