Craig Blomberg’s Exegesis Checklist

In the appendix of his Handbook of New Testament Exegesis, Craig Blomberg provides a brief outline of his book to serve as a reminder of the process of Biblical interpretation.  The appendix provides a more detailed checklist, but these bullets capture the essence of the steps he summarized to understand the meaning of a passage:

  • List any material textual variants and select the reading with the strongest support externally (based on manuscript reliability, age and quality) and internally (not based on scribal alterations and most likely penned by the author)
  • Translate the text
  • Understand the time, location, author, audience and circumstances surrounding the text along with ideas from the culture needed to understand the intent of the writer
  • Understand the passage within the broader context of the book with specific attention to the narrative, plot and climax to clarify meaning
  • Identify key words (e.g., unusual or controversial), their range of meaning and the meaning that best fits the context.  Do the same with key grammatical constructions
  • Identify other exegetical issues and use a process of elimination or probability to determine the most likely solution
  • Identify the sentences in the text and the natural divisions within the sentences.  Make each sentence a key point and division a subpoint in an outline.  Rewrite the outline in your own words
  • List the areas of systematic theology affected by the passage.  Summarize what the passage has to say about each doctrine and reevaluate your exegesis if it contradicts doctrine from other Biblical passages
  • Determine the original applications intended by the author and then search for contemporary parallels to bridge to the intended applications for your audience
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