Paul Exegetical Essay

last modified 2018-01-30T17:55:05-04:00

Note: This is a long guide focusing on library resources for the exegetical essay for your CHR 315 assignment.  Take advantage of the anchor links to go directly to the types of sources as well as any tips to assist you in your research.

By November 21, you will complete an exegetical paper on a selected text from Romans.  This guide provides call numbers, brief descriptions, and examples of specific types of tools, including:

Bible Dictionaries

These reference sources are 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 function more as an encyclopedia.  Sources include:

Anchor Bible Dictionary
REF BS 440.A54 1992 (Macon reference and stacks; Atlanta reference)

Mercer Dictionary of the Bible
REF BS 440 .M429 1991 (Macon reference, reserve, and stacks; Atlanta stacks and reference)

The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible
REF BS 440 .I63 (Macon reference and stacks; Atlanta stacks and reference)

The New Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible
REF BS 440 .N445 2006 (Macon reference; Atlanta reference)

Dictionary of Biblical Imagery
REF BS 537 .D48 1998 (Macon reference; Atlanta reference)

Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible
REF BS 440 .E44 2000 (Macon reference; Atlanta reference)

Mounce's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament Words
check out the scripture index in the back of this source
REF BS 440 .M63 2006 (Macon reference; Atlanta reference)

Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament
REF BS 440 .B5713 (Macon reference; Atlanta reference)

Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament (EDNT)
REF BS 2312 .E913 1990

Vine's Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament Words
REF BS 440 .V7476 1997 (Macon reference; Atlanta reference)

back to top

Bible Translations

Varying translations of the selected text can assist you in identifying textual problems, "hot spots," that impact the understanding of the text.

The new Oxford annotated Bible : New Revised Standard Version : with the Apocrypha : an ecumenical study Bible
REF BS 191.5.A1 2010 O94 2010 (Macon reference)

The English Standard Version Bible : containing the Old and New Testaments with Apocrypha
REF BS 195 .E64 2009 (Macon reference)

The Holy Bible. Revised Standard Version
REF BS 191 .A1 2002 .N43 (Macon reference)

The Layman's Parallel Bible
REF BS 125 .B5 1991 (Macon reference)

The King James Study Bible
REF BS 185 1988 .N37 (Macon reference)

Jewish Study Bible
REF BS 895 .J4 2004 (Macon reference, on reserve fall 2010)

The Holy Bible, King James Version

The Bible Gateway

Parallel Bibles

The Unbound Bible

World Wide Study Bible

Blue Letter Bible


Codex Sinaiticus

The Polyglot Bible

back to top

Scholarly Commentaries

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 the New Testament, the book of Romans, and Paul.  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 (Macon stacks and reference; Atlanta reference)

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

The New Jerome Biblical Commentary
REF BS 491.2 .N485 1990 (Macon stacks and reference; Atlanta stacks and reference)

The Interpreter's Bible
REF BS 491.2 .I55 (Macon stacks and reference; Atlanta stacks and reference)

The New Interpreter's Bible
REF BS 491.2 .N484 1994 (Macon stacks and reference; Atlanta stacks and reference)

Most of the commentaries for Romans are on Reserve at the Circulation Desk--just ask for CHR 315. For future reference, this guide demonstrates how to look for books of the Bible using the library catalog.

back to top


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.  Acceptable lexicons are listed below.

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

The New Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible
REF BS 425 .S84 1996 (Macon reference)
check out this Guide on how to use Strong's Concordance

Young's Analytical Concordance
REF BS 425 .Y7 (Macon reference)

back to top


Lexicons 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; it is not as up-to-date as the print version. Plus, 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 (Macon reference)

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


back to top


Interlinears are designed to provide access to the original text (Hebrew or Greek) and English to help users understand the original text of the Bible. Sources include:

Interlinear Study Bible

Interlinear Bible from Crosswalk

The Interlinear Bible: Hebrew/English
BS 715 1983 (Macon 3rd floor)

back to top

Scripture Search Using ATLA

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.

ATLA has a scripture search to assist you identify scholarly articles written about the text. ATLA recently enhanced this search to make it much easier. You can browse the books in canonical order and drill down to the chapter and verse level. Clicking to select Romans, clicking to expand Chapter 8, and clicking to expand verse 28 returns all records indexed that include Romans anywhere in the database.

Using the database and interpreting your results:

1. click on the scriptures tab near the top of the screen -- just click on the link to return a screen that includes the books of the Bible


  • you will have to click the ATLA_next.jpg link three times to get from Genesis to Romans

2. click on expand link next to Romans


3. click on expand link to view verses from your passage (Chapters 1- 10)


4. click on any verse to retrieve records for all verses in that citation and look carefully at the source information, especially if HTML or PDF full-text options are not available (as in # 11 in the search below), since you might have to order items not available here in Macon:


5. review ways to narrow the results in the box to the left of the search results


Clicking on the "Show More" under refining results is a good first step, since you can select English as a language to remove the articles you perhaps couldn't read.

Tips and tricks on limiting and expanding your search:

  • using the left-hand column to refine/limit your search is very powerful; for example, here are the results from a simple ATLA search on Romans:
    • 2,138 results for Romans
    • 361 when limited to Romans Chapter 8
    • 45 when limited to Romans Chapter 8 Verse 28
    • 37 when limited to Romans 8:28 in English
    • 12 when limited to Romans 8:28 in English appearing in scholarly, peer-reviewed articles
    • 5 when limited to Romans 8:28 in English in scholarly, peer-reviewed articles with full-text in the record
back to top

Other options for finding ATLA articles without full-text:

Many of the articles you find will be available in full text, if they are not, there are other options for finding these articles, so don’t give up!

Full text Electronic Journal List

  • list of all electronic journals available to Mercer students
  • make sure you have the complete citation (title, volume, number, date, and page numbers) before searching
  • enter journal title and click search
  • follow the links (journals often appear in more than one database) to identify full-text
  • if specific volume/year is not available online, click on the link to view print holdings of the title
  • journals are arranged alphabetically by title on the first floor of the Tarver Library
  • you can also limit a journal title search to a specific location which can be a bit confusing, so ask for assistance if you get confused.
  • articles in journals only available from Swilley (Atlanta campus) can be requested using Interlibrary Loan (Note: it will speed up the process, if you include "available at Swilley" in the Additional Information or Instructions section of this form.)

Interlibrary Loan

  • if all else fails, we can order a copy of the article for you through Interlibrary Loan--this takes time (up to 2 weeks!), so don’t leave it to the last minute
  • the pre-populated form prepop.jpg in the database makes this a quicker process
  • we can also identify libraries who subscribe to the journal--perhaps a road trip can be planned?

Tips, Tricks, & Ideas

1. Check the date. Remember to check the publication date for items to make sure you are using the most current sources that will provide the most recent insights.

2. Consider the source. Stop and ask yourself if this you are using a recognized, scholarly source.  Of all the resources on the web, the commentaries typically available for review are the least helpful. Most online commentaries are older, devotional works that do not reflect the gains of modern scholarship. You will be better served by using the printed volumes available at Tarver Library.

3. Follow the process.

  • read the text through several times and write in your own words what you think the text is saying
  • analyze the text's difficulties by identifying words or phrases that are unclear and consult dictionaries or concordances for assistance and consulting commentaries only after (not before!) difficulties have been identified
  • compare the text in several translations
  • analyze the setting for the text--go back in time and place (commentaries helpful here)
  • capture what the text meant to the author and people when it was written

back to top