Literary 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 literary analysis of your assigned text.  This guide is for the W22 section, and it is different than the one for your historical 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.

Remember, you need to unpack your passages so that you will be prepared to discuss the assigned text in terms of its literary context and form.  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

After you have read your text several times and have become comfortable with it, it is time to read the text in several translations to get a "feel" for the passage.  Remember, you want to use a translation (works from the original Hebrew and Greek and converts it into another language) rather than a paraphrase (which takes a translation and renders it into more modern English).

NoteBe sure to use only the translations listed in the syllabus.  Eight of the nine translations are available in print in Reference, and many are also in the online sources.  The Holman Christian Standard version is available in the online sources.

Print versions available in the Tarver Library include:

Jewish Study Bible
REF BS 895 J4 2004

The King James Study Bible
REF BS 185 1988 .N37

New Oxford Annotated Bible: New Revised Standard Version: with the Apocrypha (4th edition)
REF BS 191.5 .A1 2010 O94 2010

The Good News Bible (Today's English Version/TEV)
REF BS 195 .T63 1986

The New English Bible
REF BS 192 .A2 1970 .N4

The New Jerusalem Bible
REF BS 195 .J4 1985

Contemporary Comparative Side-by-Side Bible (includes New International Version and New King James Version, acceptable for this assignment; ignore New Living Translation and The Message--they are not acceptable for this assignment)
REF BS 125 .B5 2011

The Layman's Parallel Bible (includes King James, New International Version, and New Revised Standard Versions, acceptable for this assignment ignore Living Bible--it is not acceptable for this assignment!)
REF BS 125 .B5 1991 c.2

Online access to Bible translations available includes:


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.

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 first writing assignment is on the literary context of your passage.  Remember the critical questions to ask and answer using the dictionaries, translations, and commentaries:

  1. What is the genre of your passage?  Is it meant to be taken literally?
  2. Where does your passage fit in the flow of the book?  Where does your passage fit in the outline of your book that you identified when reading dictionaries and/or commentaries?  Remember, reading at least one chapter before and one chapter after your passage helps answer these critical questions.
  3. Where does your passage fit in the major themes of the book? 
  • Except for the translations, 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
  • 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 January 22.
  • 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.
  • The Bible Gateway site allows you to listen to the passage; sometimes you hear something you might miss when reading.
  • Remember to include the source you are using when you make notes.  For example, Anchor Bible dictionary states; or, according to The New Jerome Biblical Commentary.  Taking the time to do this when you write will save time later trying to match up information with a source.
  • 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 locate the .W22 section to find the commentaries available

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.