Using Secondary Sources

Secondary sources (what scholars have said about your text) are necessary for responsible exegetical study. By reviewing secondary source material you will benefit from the insights of many different exegetes. As you familiarize yourself with scholarly discussions of your text, you will be surprised to discover ideas, interpretations and questions that you had not previously considered. You will want to become conversant with the major interpretations of your passage, allowing the questions generated by your research to focus your ongoing study.

Because the exegetical paper is primarily an exposition of the biblical text, your consideration of secondary research material should not overwhelm your own analysis and discussion of the text. Your paper must not merely recount what different scholars have said about your passage. Rather, it should be a sustained engagement with your passage which clearly communicates your own conclusions about it and only references secondary material in a way that supplements your own study. The exegetical paper will then be your own explanation of your text in dialogue with secondary material.