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Elements of Biblical Exegesis: A Basic Guide for Students and Ministers Paperback – February 1, 2009

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 286 pages
  • Publisher: Hendrickson Publishers; Rev Exp edition (February 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1598563114
  • ISBN-13: 978-1598563115
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #932,752 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"It seems to me that this is precisely the kind of book that most beginning theological students and seminary students need to read."
—Frank J. Matera,Professor of New Testament,Catholic University

"I have examined M. Gorman's Elements of Biblical Exegesis and find it very impressive. I teach courses in biblical interpretation and expect to use the book as a text."
—George Brunk III, Professor of New Testament, Eastern Mennonite Seminary

"Gorman’s done a fine job with what strikes me as a pretty difficult topic to handle in book form. Elements of Biblical Exegesis is careful andclear without being overwhelming. I think it will be very useful, so thanks to Gorman for his good and insightful work."
—Warren Carter, Pherigo Professorof New Testament, Saint Paul School of Theology

Designed for students, teachers, and pastors, this is really a handbook for studying the basics of biblical exegesis. It takes the reader, step by step, through context, historical, and literary analyses. While the diachronic and existential approaches are given their due, Gorman clearly states that the synchronic approach is dominant here. Having seen how a text is taken apart, the reader is then shown how to put it back together again in a way that will yield meaning for today. The very layout of the book is instructive. Important words are in bold print and explanations follow. Charts illustrate ideas. Each chapter ends with a summary of the content, practical hints for learning and remembering, and suggestions for further practice. Five appendices supplement the material in the book itself. This guide is highly recommended for classroom use.
—The Bible Today

Of the making of many books on Bible study there is no end, but we are especially pleased to celebrate this one because its story is in part our own. Long-time readers will remember Michael Gorman as Associate Director of this organization back when it was known as the Council for Religion in Independent Schools (CRIS), and his new book is a revision of something originally published by us in 1990 as Texts and Contexts: A Guide to Careful Thinking and Writing about the Bible. Fast-forward a decade or so and Dr. Gorman is now dean and professor at the Ecumenical Institute of Theology at St. Mary’s Seminary and University in Baltimore.

First things first. “Exegesis” springs from a Greek word, exegeisthai, “to lead out” (cf. the Latin educare, root of our word “education”). So exegesis is simply the business of leading ourselves or others out of ignorance into understanding; specifically, it is the process of beginning with a passage of Scripture and discovering its meaning(s), of making the opaque transparent, translucent.

Making sense out of the Bible can be a daunting challenge. As Gorman acknowledges, “the already difficult task of biblical exegesis and interpretation is becoming so complex, with the unending array of new methods and methodologies (not to mention new historical discoveries), that many students and preachers are tempted to abandon any hope of being ‘scholarly’ or even careful in their reading and use of the Bible.” But Gorman rises to the challenge: “One of the fundamental assumptions of this book is that exegesis can and must be done by the nonspecialist,” he declares, and he proceeds to show how the laity as well as the professionals can go about it.

If I may dare to carp, the book’s title is perhaps unfortunate. While this tome will indeed prove useful for students and ministers, and for teachers as well, the truth is that anyone curious about scholarship and the Bible will profit immensely here. Gorman is a very readable guide through the entire terrain. He surveys and explains the disparate approaches to Bible study (from redaction criticism to deconstructionism). He explains the strengths and weaknesses of all the major English translations available. He also leads the way through the thickets of Bible scholarship, clearly explaining and evaluating the full range of resources—commentaries, dictionar -- Review --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Michael J. Gorman is Dean and Professor of New Testament and Early Church History at the Ecumenical Institute of Theology, St. Mary's Seminary and University, Baltimore.

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Customer Reviews

Very comprehensive work which I would advise to read as introduction to the subject.
Gorman's book is an excellent tool for teaching the basics of exegesis to college students with little to no background in critical biblical studies.
J. Spaulding
Here Gorman leads the reader through the seven elements that make for successful exegetical papers.
S. Grace

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Bethany McKinney Fox on September 7, 2003
Format: Paperback
This book lives up to its subtitle--it is indeed a very basic guide to biblical exegesis. It is easy to read, and explains everything at a level that anyone, even if they have never done exegesis, will be able to understand. It gives a basic explanation of how to consider historical context, literary context, etc. and how to do a more detailed analysis of a text. Gorman also emphasizes the importance of taking our own context as exegetes into account; realizing that we bring our own lives and cultures into our readings, as much as we try not to. And I appreciated that he brought up that a main point of exegesis (which is often neglected) is for us to ask the question, "If we were to take this passage seriously, how then would we live?"
I think this is a good, quick read that will be good for people who want to start doing some responsible Biblical exegesis. However, if you are a graduate student (or anyone for that matter) and already have a basic handle on how to do exegesis and want to do more in-depth study, this is probably not the book you are looking for.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Erin J on October 14, 2007
Format: Paperback
Michael Gorman offers a good, basic step by step approach to exegesis that will help those who do not know Greek or Hebrew and even those who do. He starts by explaining the different approaches (synchronic, diachronic, and existential). He uses an eclectic approach in this book and recommends the reader do the same. He favors working from the final text form and not giving undue attention to liberal methods of form criticism. There is an excellent chapter on picking out a good modern day translation and the pro's and con's of each of the translations. At the end of each chapter he provides three very helpful sections: First, is the chapter summary, in which he briefly recaps the main points. Second, here he gives a couple of tips that make exegesis easier. Third, is the "For Further Insight and Practice" section, in which the author gives assignments that really reinforce the teaching as you go. Exegesis is something you learn by doing and Gorman helps this to happen with this excellent teaching tool. The chapters are short and set up in a step by step or as Gorman has labeled each step as an element. For example, chapter 3 is labeled "Survey: The first element". After the step by steps of exegesis, the author has provided an entire chapter, that is longer than all the rest on "Resources for Exegesis". This chapter alone is worth the price of the book. All of the bibliographies are annotated. If you are a student or a minister and are looking for a great basic guide to get you started in exegesis, then you need to order this book. You will be glad that you did.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 22, 2003
Format: Paperback
Extremely well written, and very insightful. The book gives many practical guidelines for biblical analysis, and suggests many tools to help in the process. There is also an excellent critique on the different translations of the bible. Overall, I'd say the book is a bargain, and invaluable to anyone who reads the bible!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By S. Grace on November 25, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Michael J. Gorman’s Elements of Biblical Exegesis is a useful book intended to introduce a person to the fundamentals of the task of writing a careful biblical exegetical paper (3). Though the exegetical paper is primarily written in the academic setting of a college or seminary environment, the purpose of learning to write a well-developed and careful exegetical paper is clearly extended beyond the classroom and the finished document itself so that one may appropriate his or her research to be applied in future teaching, writing, or preaching settings.
In three major sections the book is written in such a way as to facilitate the exegetical process in a step-by-step fashion. The text itself is designed so as to be made helpful to the student by providing a summary, review exercises, and practical hints at the end of each major chapter. In addition to the introducing the would-be exegete to exegetical methods and process the book provides a very helpful extensive section on “Resources for Exegesis” (181-232). Following the very significant “Resources” section are four appendices which include tables of methods, practical guides for writing a research exegesis paper, three example exegetical papers, and selected internet resources for biblical studies. All in all, the book is designed to be used by student in a classroom setting (though not required) for the purpose of developing his or her skills a biblical exegete. While the book certainly accomplishes its goal to introduce a student to the exegetical process its affect is well beyond the classroom. This book has a significant reach and will be found useful to the person who brand new to the study of the Bible or to the professional Pastor who is looking to brush up his or her skills as a Biblical exegete.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By John D. Fitzmorris on December 7, 2010
Format: Paperback
I am an adjunct professor in Tulane's School of Continuing Studies (Religious Studies.)I teach courses in the Gospels, Paul and his theology and Jesus. I stumbled across this book while surfing on Amazon, not looking just surfing. Gorman's book is a wondrous resource and I have put it to use in all three courses. An excellent guide for my students in putting together and critiquing their papers I think it ought to be mandatory in homeletics.
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More About the Author

Michael J. Gorman is the Raymond E. Brown Professor of Biblical Studies and Theology at St. Mary's Seminary & University in Baltimore, Maryland, USA, where he has taught since 1991. He is a New Testament scholar who specializes especially in the letters, theology, and spirituality of the apostle Paul. His additional specialties are the gospel of John, the book of Revelation, theological and missional interpretation of Scripture, and early Christian ethics. In addition, he has a strong interest in the relationship between church and culture. From 1994 to 2012 he was Dean of the Ecumenical Institute of Theology at St. Mary's.

He earned his B.A. degree summa cum laude in French from Gordon College in Massachusetts. He received the M.Div. and the Ph.D. cum laude in New Testament from Princeton Theological Seminary in New Jersey, where he was also a teaching fellow in New Testament and an instructor in New Testament Greek. He has also been a visiting professor at Duke Divinity School, Wesley Theological Seminary, Mars Hill Graduate School, and Grand Seminare Notre Dame de l'Esperance in Cameroon.

He is the author of ten books and numerous articles on Biblical interpretation and on ethics. An avid traveler, he has also led several study trips to the cities of the apostles Paul and John in Greece and Turkey.

Michael Gorman was the 2005 recipient of The Fortress Press Award for Innovative Teaching in Graduate Schools and Seminaries, theological education's "teacher of the year" award. He also sits on several editorial councils and other professional committees. A United Methodist, he is an active layperson and a popular teacher at churches, institutions of higher education, and conferences representing many traditions.

Visit Michael Gorman's blog: www.michaeljgorman.net

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