Historical Analysis (Lewis, Spring 2014)

by Theresa Rhodes last modified 2016-08-08T09:09:25-04:00

Note: This guide emphasizes the three types of scholarly tools available in the Tarver Library to assist you with your historical analysis of your assigned text.  This guide is for the W22 section, and it is different from the one for your literary assignment.  If you are not in the W22 section, your guide is here.  If you need more in-depth help, check out the additional course-specific resources available on the Christianity Subject Librarian page.

You should already be familiar with the sources, since you used them on your literary analysis.  This time you will use them to find information on the historical analysis of your text.  You must use three commentaries and two dictionaries.

Remember, you need to unpack your passages so that you will be prepared to discuss the assigned text in terms of its historical context.  This assignment is to assist you with interpreting biblical texts responsibly.  You will be digging the meaning out of the text rather than reading into the text what you want or expect to find.  A text without a context is a pretext

These are not your ordinary dictionaries--similar to an encyclopedia than a traditional dictionary.  For example, in addition to definitions you will also find longer entries that provide information about history, customs, institutions, and beliefs.  They also often include entries for the books (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy, etc.).  They also contain articles that might be relevant to your topic, such as sexuality, death, economics, creation, love, homosexuality, justice, etc.  Most articles include information on when a text was written.

When you do look up specific words or terms, make sure that you are using the definition of the term as it was used at that time, not how we mean it today.  Remember, language changes.

You may use the following dictionaries for your assignment:

  • Anchor Bible Dictionary
    REF BS 440 .A54 1992
  • Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible
    REF BS 440 .I63

Genesis

Interpretation Genesis by Walter Brueggemann (on reserve)
Broadman Bible Commentary volume 1 General Articles/Genesis-Exodus (on reserve)
The Interpreter's Bible REF BS 491.2 .I53 v.1
The Jerome Biblical Commentary
REF BS 491.2 .B7
Layman's Bible Commentary
Genesis by C.T. Fritsch (on reserve)
Mercer Commentary on the Bible
REF BS 491.2 .M47 1995
Mercer Commentary on the Old Testament
REF BS 1151.2 .M47 2003
The New Interpreter's Bible
REF BS 491.2 .N484 1994 v.1
The New Jerome Biblical Commentary
REF BS 491.2 .N485 1990
Old Testament Library
Genesis by Gerhard Von Rad (on reserve)
Women's Bible Commentary REF BS 491.3 .W66 2012

Exodus

Interpretation Exodus by Terence E. Fretheim (on reserve)
Broadman Bible Commentary volume 1 General Articles/Genesis-Exodus (on reserve)
The Interpreter's Bible REF BS 491.2 .I53 v.1
The Jerome Biblical Commentary
REF BS 491.2 .B7
Layman's Bible Commentary
The Book of Exodus by B. Davie Napier (on reserve)
Mercer Commentary on the Bible
REF BS 491.2 .M47 1995
Mercer Commentary on the Old Testament
REF BS 1151.2 .M47 2003
The New Interpreter's Bible
REF BS 491.2 .N484 1994 v.1
The New Jerome Biblical Commentary
REF BS 491.2 .N485 1990
Old Testament Library
The Book of Exodus by Brevard S. Childs (on reserve)
Women's Bible Commentary REF BS 491.3 .W66 2012

Leviticus

Interpretation Leviticus by Samuel E. Balentine (on reserve)
Broadman Bible Commentary volume 2 Leviticus-Ruth (on reserve)
The Interpreter's Bible REF BS 491.2 .I53 v.2
The Jerome Biblical Commentary
REF BS 491.2 .B7
Layman's Bible Commentary The Book of Leviticus by Lames L. Mays (on reserve)
Mercer Commentary on the Bible REF BS 491.2 .M47 1995
Mercer Commentary on the Old Testament
REF BS 1151.2 .M47 2003
The New Interpreter's Bible
REF BS 491.2 .N484 1994 v.1
The New Jerome Biblical Commentary
REF BS 491.2 .N485 1990
Old Testament Library
Leviticus by Erhard S. Gerstenberger (on reserve)
Women's Bible Commentary REF BS 491.3 .W66 2012

Deuteronomy

Psalms

Interpretation Psalms by James Luther Mays (on reserve)
Broadman Bible Commentary volume 4 Esther-Psalms (on reserve)
The Interpreter's Bible REF BS 491.2 .I53 v.4
The Jerome Biblical Commentary
REF BS 491.2 .B7
Layman's Bible Commentary The Book of Psalms by Arnold B. Rhodes (on reserve)
Mercer Commentary on the Bible REF BS 491.2 .M47 1995
Mercer Commentary on the Old Testament
REF BS 1151.2 .M47 2003
The New Interpreter's Bible
REF BS 491.2 .N484 1994 v.4 (Psalms and Introduction to Hebrew Poetry)
The New Jerome Biblical Commentary
REF BS 491.2 .N485 1990
Old Testament Library
The Psalms by Artur Weiser (on reserve)
Women's Bible Commentary REF BS 491.3 .W66 2012

Ecclesiastes

Interpretation Ecclesiastes by William P. Brown (on reserve)
Broadman Bible Commentary volume 5 Proverbs-Isaiah (on reserve)
The Interpreter's Bible REF BS 491.2 .I53 v.5
The Jerome Biblical Commentary
REF BS 491.2 .B7
Layman's Bible Commentary Ecclesiastes by J. Coert Rylaarsdam (on reserve)
Mercer Commentary on the Bible REF BS 491.2 .M47 1995
Mercer Commentary on the Old Testament
REF BS 1151.2 .M47 2003
The New Interpreter's Bible
REF BS 491.2 .N484 1994 v.5 (Ecclesiastes and Introduction to Wisdom Literature)
The New Jerome Biblical Commentary
REF BS 491.2 .N485 1990
Old Testament Library
Ecclesiastes by James L. Crenshaw (on reserve)
Women's Bible Commentary REF BS 491.3 .W66 2012

Song of Songs

Isaiah 56

Micah

Interpretation Hosea-Micah by James Limburg (on reserve)
Broadman Bible Commentary
volume 7 Hosea-Malachi (on reserve)
The Interpreter's Bible
REF BS 491.2 .I53 v.6 Twelve Prophets
The Jerome Biblical Commentary
REF BS 491.2 .B7
Layman's Bible Commentary
The Book of Micah by James H. Gailey, Jr. (on reserve)
Mercer Commentary on the Bible
REF BS 491.2 .M47 1995
Mercer Commentary on the Old Testament
REF BS 1151.2 .M47 2003
The New Interpreter's Bible
REF BS 491.2 .N484 1994 v.6 Introduction to Prophetic Literature
The New Interpreter's Bible
REF BS 491.2 .N484 1994 v.7 The Twelve Prophets (Micah)The New Jerome Biblical Commentary REF BS 491.2 .N485 1990
Old Testament Library
Micah by James Luther Mays (on reserve)
Women's Bible Commentary REF BS 491.3 .W66 2012

The focus for this second writing assignment is on the historical context of your passage.  Remember the critical questions to ask and answer using the dictionaries, translations, and commentaries:

  1. When was the book containing your passage most likely written?
  2. Who was the original audience for the text?  What problems or issues was the book written to address?  Remember, it is important to look at these problems and/or issues at the surface level and after further reflection based on work with translations and dictionaries.
  3. What were the social customs, institutions, or practices of the time that are important for understanding your passage?
  • Remember to include the source you are using when you make notes.
    • For example, Anchor Bible dictionary states; or, according to The Mercer Dictionary of the Bible, scholars state
    • Taking the time to do this when you write will save time later trying to match up information with a source.
  • Make sure you get all the information you will need for your footnotes and bibliography.
    • You will need author (usually an editor for multi-volume works) title, volume number (if a multi-volume work), and publication information (publisher, place of publication, and date) for the source as well as any author, title, and page numbers for the article included in the source.
    • Tip: entering the title from your guide into the library catalog allows you to retrieve information about the main source. However, the "insides" of the sources are not searchable. Make sure you capture that information when you start rather than trying to scramble later when you compile your footnotes and bibliography.
  • Your footnotes will use abbreviations of many of the dictionaries and commentaries but include the full citations in the bibliography.
    • Anchor Bible Dictionary (ABD vol:pg)
    • The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible (IDB vol:pg)
    • The New Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible (NIDB vol:pg)
    • Mercer Dictionary of the Bible (MDB pg)
    • The Jewish Study Bible (JSB pg)
    • The New Interpreter's Bible (NIB vol:pg)
    • Mercer Commentary on the Bible (MCB pg)
    • Translations do not need to be footnoted.
      • Refer to them using the abbreviations found in your syllabus.  For example, the NRSV says, while the NIV says
      • The Good News Bible/Today's English Version (TEV)
      • The Holman Christian Standard (HCS)
      • The Jewish Study Bible (JSB)
      • The King James Version (KJV)
      • The New English Bible (NEB)
      • The New King James Version (NKJV)
      • The New International Version (NIV)
      • The New Jerusalem Bible (NJB)
      • The New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

 

  • All of this work has to be done at the library--plan accordingly.
  • Spend some time writing and brainstorming on synonyms
    • not every word you think of is going to be in a dictionary, but the more words you think of the better your chances of identifying key concepts to look for in the dictionaries
  • This work is "cyclical" which means that one thing often leads to another.  For example,
    • reading a translation leads you to words you either don't know or aren't sure of their context and these words taken you to a dictionary, where you might find more words
    • reading the commentary leads you back to the translation to see if the same phrase is used in more than one translation
    • reading the commentary may take you back to the dictionary and vice versa
  • Commentaries and dictionaries may not always agree on some issues like when a text was written.  Consider how you should negotiate these differences.  At the very least, you should note the differences and state that scholars disagree.  An even better approach is to take a side and explain your reasoning.

  • This is going to take time, so don't put it off until the last minute.
    • Your 2-3 page paper on this is due February 17.
  • Read the text, read the text, read the text ... familiarity can bring understanding.
  • Look up familiar words or phrases to make sure you are capturing the sense of the term in context.
  • Be sure to use only the sources listed in the syllabus--you may be tempted to use other sources (we have lots of them!), but for this assignment stick to the approved list in your syllabus.
  • Please don't re-shelve (or hide!) the sources.  Theresa will monitor the area and try to keep the items in order on the reference shelves.
  • Remember that many of your commentaries have been pulled and placed on reserve.
  • search from the Reserves tab in the upper left-hand of the University Libraries website
  • search for professor (Lewis, Paul)

  • make sure you find the W22 section to locate your commentaries

 

Jack Tarver Library also offers assistance, including:

  • Ask Jack/Research Services available in person, by phone, via IM or texting
  • Individual consultation with Theresa Rhodes, Christianity Subject Librarian.
    • It is better to ask for help sooner rather than later.