Skip to Main Content

UBBL317 (Ruth & Esther): The Exegetical Process - Part 4

This guide is intended to help those in UBBL317 begin their research on Ruth or Esther. Rev. 6/2022, Sharon Ralston

Exegetical Paper: Research & Application

Write an exegetical paper on the pericope assigned by your Instructor. Using the insights from the literary elements and structure you observed in Assignments #1 and #2, along with the question and answer prompts from Assignment #3, write a research and application paper on the same text. This assignment has two parts as follows:

Part 1 - Research

Using your notes from the previous assignments, write your research observations following a verse-by-verse format. The research notes you have put together in your question prompts (provided they are thorough) can now be refashioned to form the text of your paper. Your focus here must be historical - what might the text have meant to its ancient hearers given the ancient historical context. Save any theological reflection (that is, about what you have learned from God) for the Application & Wesleyan Quadrilateral portion of the paper. The assignment here is to keep your historical distance, and you will be graded on how successfully you are able to do so in this section.

Present Your Research Findings From Exegetical Assignments #1-#3

Present these findings in a fluid and conversational way. Do not tell your reader which questions you asked of the text, this information will be obvious as you simply interact with the passage one verse at a time. Footnote all citations (such as from Bible encyclopedias, or Bible dictionaries) in appropriate style. You are required to use Chicago Manual of Style (see 'Chicago Citation' page in this guide).

Note on Inclusive Language: As a department we are committed to modeling and encouraging inclusive language in teaching and writing. Students are required to use gender inclusive language in their papers. For help on this topic, please visit:

Your Paper Must Have A Thesis Statement

To craft a thesis statement, think about the text as a whole. What is this text trying to teach people in its original audience? What did the text mean for the ancient world? What is the text trying to communicate to them? How does the passage accomplish these goals? Your answer/s to these questions will form your thesis for the paper. This should be a one-sentence statement that carefully, precisely, and succinctly makes a statement or claim about the meaning (not just the content!) of the passage. Be careful not to make a procedural statement (e.g. “The following paper will exegete the Ten Commandments.”). Such a statement is implicit and need not be stated. A thesis statement, by definition, is a claim or assertion that can be contested. Italicize this statement and place it at or near the end of your introduction. 

Create A Title

Good papers tend to achieve clarity and precision by being singularly focused on communicating a crisp thesis. This begins with the very first words of text, your title. It should correspond to your thesis statement in some way. Craft a line or phrase that hints at the meaning of the passage but does not make a claim in itself.

Use A Minimum Of Three Secondary Sources

These three sources can be critical biblical commentaries and/or peer reviewed journal articles. All sources must be published on or later than 1985, including the first edition. These sources are over and above any Bible encyclopedias, Bible dictionaries, and/or Bible background commentaries that you already may have consulted. Biblical commentaries are considered “critical” if their author/s engage original languages in their analysis of the given book. This is simply a way of identifying the most helpful kind of commentaries that are available and appropriate for the classroom setting. Please see the course bibliography for a list of approved and available commentaries in the Stamps reference room. Peer reviewed journal articles are much more concise than commentaries and so offer more specificity on the given topic or text. The instructor will demonstrate how to locate journal articles in the library and through the library databases. You may also request help from our Theological Librarian in the Stamps Theological Library, Lindsey Sinnott

Please do not use any sources from the Internet except those accessed through APU databases.

Treat general resources like condiments, not like the main course. These resources are meant to supplement what you think the passage means. Cite commentaries and journals by either quoting or paraphrasing their content and crediting authors in the footnotes. Be sure to maintain your voice in the paper. Avoid overloading the paper with needless quotes. Use your quotes to back up your claims. Do not have your quotes make your claims for you!

Part 2 - Application


Write a one-half page essay about how this text applies to you and your community today. In making the leap from what the text meant to what the text means, students are to ask the following questions:

  • Universal Level Analysis 
    How does what I have learned from the passage affect the way I think about God, the world/society, the church in general?
  • Personal Level Analysis
    How does what I have learned from the passage affect the way I live? How does this message/s challenge or encourage me personally?

Feel free to write with the first person pronoun. As you do, push yourself to go beyond “I have learned a lot.” Think about how the text informs your life and unique experiences. The Application portion should not be an afterthought in your exegetical analysis, but the culmination of it! This is where you work out how the message of the text gets traction in your life!

The only caveat is that you remain focused on what you have learned from the text itself. Be sure that your Application comments are derived directly and reasonably from the meaning of the passage.

While exegesis is primarily about determining what the text meant in its original context and to its original audience, we must not leave the matter there. It is also important to extend the text’s meaning into the contemporary world. After all, the Bible is revelation for us as it was for them. In transitioning from the “then” to the “now,” be careful that you do not throw off the work of Observation and Research. Responsible Application must be an outgrowth of proper Observation and Research.