The Rules Of Exegesis

Notes from Dr. Gordon Fee's book "New Testament Exegesis"

What Is Exegesis?

Dr. Gordon D. Fee, in his excellent book New Testament Exegesis, p 27, states:

"Exegesis answers the question, What did the biblical author mean? It has to do both with what he said (the content itself) and why he said it at any given point (the literary context). Furthermore, exegesis is primarily concerned with intentionality: What did the author intend his original readers to understand?"

The Rules Of Exegesis

The rules below are taken from p. 32:

Rule No. 1: Survey the historical context in general.
Rule No. 2: Confirm the limits of the passage.
Rule No. 3: Become thoroughly acquainted with your paragraph or pericope (see article No. 1 in this series for a discussion of pericopes).
Rule No. 4: Analyze sentence structures and syntactical relationships.
Rule No. 5: Establish the text.
Rule No. 6: Analyze the grammar.
Rule No. 7: Analyze significant words.
Rule No. 8: Research the historical-cultural background.

Completing the process

Fee recommends four additional stops to complete the process of exegesis:
Consider the broader biblical and theological contexts.
Consult secondary literature.
Provide - if one is able - a finished translation.
Write your analysis.

From New Testament Exegesis by Gordon D. Fee, Westminster, John Knox Press, Louisville, KY, Revised edition, 1993. He also co-authored How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth , a basic work on Biblical interpretation. We highly recommend both books!

Gordon D. Fee is a New Testament scholar who taught at Wheaton College, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and at Regent College in Vancouver, Canada, where he is now Professor Emeritus.