Exegetical Essays (Whitfield, Spring 2016)

last modified 2016-04-28T16:30:17-04:00

Note: This guide emphasizes the scholarly resources available in the Tarver Library to assist you with preparing your exegetical essays.  While exegesis (digging the meaning out of the text rather than reading into the text what you want or expect to find) is learning how to ask questions of a text, your exegetical essays go one step farther to determine which questions to ask and how to ask them.  Disclaimer:  the screen shots in this guide are for illustrative purposes only, you cannot click on images or links.

Additional information is available on the Christianity Subject Librarian page.


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 and to look for any striking differences.  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). 

Print versions available in the Tarver Library include:

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

New Jerusalem Bible
REF BS 195 .J4 1985

Revised English Bible with the Apocrypha
REF BS 195 .R4 1989

Contemporary Comparative Side-by-Side Bible
REF BS 125 .B5 2011 (Note:  only use the NIV from this source that includes others in a side-by-side format)

Layman's Parallel Bible
REF BS 125 .B5 1991 c.2 (Note:  use only the NIV and NRSV from this source that includes others in a side-by-side format)

Electronic access to Bible translations available includes:


Bible dictionaries include more than just words but also broad articles that provide information about history, customs, institutions, and beliefs.  They also often include entries for the books (Numbers, Jeremiah, Psalm, Mark, and 1 Corinthians) that contain your passages.  These can be useful for looking up unfamiliar words or phrases and also for ensuring that you are using the biblical use of commonly used words or phrases. Don't let the term "dictionary" fool you, many of these are multi-volume works that function more as an encyclopedia.  Sources include:

Anchor Bible Dictionary (6 volumes)
REF BS 440 .A54 1992

Eerdman's Bible Dictionary
REF BS 400 .E44 2000

HarperCollins Bible Dictionary
REF BS 440 .H235 2011

The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible (4 volumes)
REF BS 440 .I63

Mercer Dictionary of the Bible (two more copies on Reserve, check at the Circulation Desk)
REF BS 440 .M429 1991

Mounce's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament Words
REF BS 440 .M63 2000
check out the scripture index in the back of this source

The New Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible (5 volumes)
REF BS 440 .N445 2006

Oxford Encyclopedia of the Books of the Bible (2 volumes)
REF BS 440 .O93 2001


Lexica are designed to help the user understand the original text of the Bible.  Sources include:

Liddell-Scott-Jones Lexicon of Classical Greek

  • while this online version is useful
  • while this online version is useful; it is not as up-to-date as the print version
  • this site often takes a long time to respond
  • for serious lexical study, it is still necessary to consult the paper version

Greek-English Lexicon (Liddell & Scott)
REF PA 445 .E5 L6 1996

A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (Bauer-Danker)
REF PA 881 .B38 2000 (another copy in Tarver stacks)

The New Brown, Driver, Briggs, Gesenius Hebrew and English Lexicon:  With an appendix containing the Biblical Aramaic
REF PJ 4833 .B76 1979

The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament
REF PJ 4833 .K5813 2001 (2 volumes)


Concordances are alphabetical indexes that lead the user to all instances of specific words or phrases in the text. Sources include:

Strong's Exhaustive Concordance

The online version of this source is fine to use, as Dr. Whitfield says, to "...find where the words hang out..." Remember, this is a "... bad, bad, bad dictionary"--do not use the dictionary portion of this web resource.  Dr. Whitfield recommends against using the lexicon portion of this site, because it is dated. 

Remember, click the gear icon to display the Strongs numbers once you have input your scripture 

This takes you from this:

to this, where the blue lines are links!

The Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (Strong)
REF BS 425 .S8 1947

The New Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible
REF BS 425 .S8 2001
check out this Guide on how to use Strong's Concordance

Analytical Concordance to the Bible (Young)
REF BS 425 .Y7 1969


Commentaries are an excellent source to answer questions about what things were like when the book was written as well as what social or institutional setting might have been in place. General background information on the book as well as specific verses is often included, so don't automatically go straight to the specific verses.  Remember that many of the sources included above under dictionaries will also include entries for your passage.  Finally, remember to check any bibliographies listed and follow up on those sources.

Mercer Commentary on the New Testament
REF BS 2341.2 .M47 2003

Mercer Commentary on the Bible
REF BS 491.2 .M47 1995 (Macon reference)

Mercer Commentary on the Old Testament
REF BS 1151.2 .M47 2003

The New Jerome Biblical Commentary
REF BS 491.2 .N485 1990

The Interpreter's Bible (12 volumes)
REF BS 491.2 .I55

The New Interpreter's Bible (12 volumes)
REF BS 491.2 .N484 1994

Articles and Books

You may want to expand your search beyond the reference resources to articles and books.  While you can do a search using Discovery, the search requires more clicks and takes longer to retrieve a precise set of search results. 


If you aren't a Christianity major or minor, you might not be familiar with ATLA.  This database will become very important as you look for books and articles in the field of religious studies.  Produced by the American Theological Library Association, this database provides links to journal articles, book reviews, and collections of essays in all fields of religion. Full-text is provided for more than 266,000 electronic articles and book reviews. Begun in 1949, indexing for some journal titles extends back into the nineteenth century.

  • From the top of the screen, click the tab for Scriptures.  This scripture search allows you to identify scholarly articles, essays, and/or book chapters written about your passage. 

  • You can browse the books in canonical order:

  • Click the next page link to get to the listings for your New Testament texts (Mark and 1 Corinthians).

  • Click on the book name (Numbers) to see all the entries, or drill down to the chapter by clicking on [Expand].  If you click the title of the book (Mark), you will return all the entries for the entire book.

  • Click on the chapter to see all the entries, or drill down to specific verses by clicking on [Expand] from the Chapter list:


  • This screenshot displays the 305 entries where Mark 3 is included in the database.  If an article dealt with chapters 1-3, the entry is included here; if the article dealt only with chapter 3 verse 3, the entry is included here.  I recommend starting with entries on the specific chapters of your passage first.  As you read your commentary, you may want to drill down to a specific verse from your passage.  Dictionary and commentary resources (especially the introduction in the New Interpreter's Bible) may provide sufficient information on your book; however, clicking on the book name produces results where the book is included anywhere in the database.

Exegetical Essays (Whitfield, Spring 2016)


  • You may also want to refine your search by using the limit options on the left-hand side of the screen.  This is one database where limiting results to items in English (language) option could be helpful.
  • Databases include options to temporarily place articles in a folder.  Once items are in a folder, you can e-mail them, save them, print them, and request that the citation be formatted for Chicago style.  Remember, Dr. Whitfield has final authority on style requirement.
    • E-mail any articles in a folder before you logoff.  They are active only while you are searching
  • These guides are available to remind you of search techniques, locating full text, and the important reminder to evaluate the sources you find.  Most of the entries in this discipline-specific database are scholarly but not all have been peer-reviewed.


  • pay close attention to the STATUS  line to make sure an item is available before attempting to locate it in the library
  • clicking on the map link will give you the shelf number where you can find the item in the library

  • You may request items that are available at the Swilley Library in Atlanta or one of the Regional Academic Centers in Douglas or Henry simply by clicking the Request this title link and completing the short form. 
  • Remember to document your sources, including volume numbers for multi-volume works.
    • include the title, page number, and volume of the source with your notes
    • consider taking a picture of the front of the source along with your notes to make sure you get the right source for your documentation
    • if you make copies of any sources, remember to include the title of the source along with page number and volume
  • Your essays require Chicago form.  We often use the Purdue OWL.  Librarians are available to review your citations, and Dr. Whitfield has the final word.
  • This is going to take time, so don't put it off until the last minute.
  • Read the text, read the text, read the text ... familiarity can bring understanding.
  • 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.
  • Don't spin your wheels.  Stop and ask a librarian if you get stuck!