Order Literary Context Essay Writing
Each student will write a 400-500-word exegetical essay describing the literary context of their selected passage. Your goal in this essay is to explain how the selected passage relates to the rest of the New Testament book in which it is found.
After completing the assigned reading for this week, follow this inductive method to analyze the literary context of your selected passage:
1. You should not read commentaries or other books/articles to learn about the literary context of your selected passage. Instead, read the New Testament book itself from start to finish, making notes along the way about the following:
a. common topics or emphases;
b. the structure of the argument (or the way in which the author builds a case to support the main points being made);
c. the tone or apparent emotions conveyed at various places leading up to and after your passage;
Order Literary Context Essay Writing
d. the style or literary types/forms employed in the text (e.g., poetic, teaching/didactic, exhortation, etc.);
e. section breaks or shifts (note that the chapters and paragraphs in your Bible represent places where editors have discerned a shift in the literary flow of the book).
2. Analyze how your passage connects with other portions of the book. You will naturally notice these connections as you read through the whole book, but you can also search for other occurrences of the same words elsewhere in the book. For example, if your main passage was the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew, you might do a quick search for the words “earth” and “heaven” in Matt 6:10. This would lead you to see potential topical or thematic connections to other references in Matthew’s Gospel (e.g., Matt 3:2, where John preaches about the nearness of the kingdom of heaven, and Matt 28:18, where the resurrected Jesus gives his disciples the great commission). When you find connections between words, phrases, and concepts in your passage and elsewhere in the book, you can then assess how these connections clarify the literary context of your passage.
3. There is no standard way to describe the literary context of your passage, but a good approach is to show how it is situated within the larger flow of the book. For example, noting the connections between Matt 6:10, 3:2, and 28:18 above, you might be able to say something like this about the literary context of your passage: “Matthew 6:5-15 is commonly called the Lord’s Prayer, and in 6:10 a connection is made to a larger theme that spans the entire book – the presence of the kingdom of heaven on earth. Early in the book, John the Baptist call for repentance on account of the nearness or immanence of the kingdom of heaven. Then at the conclusion of the book, the resurrected Jesus has all authority in heaven and on earth, and commissions his disciples to make disciples of all nations. Therefore, the prayer of 6:5-15 develops the theme that Jesus and his disciples are engaged in the work of reflecting (or establishing) the kingdom of heaven here on earth.”
4. As you describe the literary context of your passage, you should clarify how it relates to the immediate context, its chapter, the larger section of the book, and the book as a whole. Remember that your goal is to describe what someone needs to know to make sense of your passage.
5. In real life, you would want to consult with secondary sources to aid your understanding of the literary context. But in this assignment, your focus is on using the method that scholars use to formulate their positions on the literary context of a passage. Therefore, please do not consult secondary sources in this assignment, but see what you can come up with based strictly on your own careful reading and analysis of your passage within the context of its book.
The essay should be 400-500 words in 12 point, Times New Romans font. Format per the Turabian guidelines.
This assignment is due by 11:59 p.m. (ET) on Sunday of Module/Week 3.
Resources for Turabian formatting may be found in the Online Writing Center. Your paper should follow the footnote method of citation.
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