Interpretation Paper –BIBL 318 (Wallace)



Length: 5-6 pages (double-spaced, New Times Roman 12 pt.font)


Due date: see syllabus for due date.


Purpose:  The purposeof this paper is to effectively interpret a biblical passage in James and recognizerelevant theological truths from the passage.


Directions: After praying and asking God for wisdom, choosea passage in James that interests you of approximately 2-7 verses. Up to thispoint in the course, you have already completed the basic exegetical steps forinterpreting a passage. You have read the letter of James, and during the firstpart of this term you have summarized the chapters, answered relevantquestions, observed and noted questions about arrangement, style, key personsand background information. And in reading your commentary, you have alsogained a general idea of the historical and cultural background of James and thenature of wisdom and the diaspora letter.  


Now you are ready to take additional general interpretivesteps for the paper. First, read your chosen passage several times, jotting down observations and questions(about the author, audience, purpose, tone, key words, difficulties, etc.).Second, divide the passage into units of thought (similar to contemporaryparagraphs), be aware of James thought rhymes and contrasts, and decide whichof these units of thought (sections) of your chosen passage will be theprimary focus of the paper (these divisions may also help in coming up withsub-headings for your paper for the interpretive section). Third, when reading,use different translations and available Bible study tools in determining thesignificant words and phrases of the passage.


Once you have determined the specific passage and itsdivisions and have interacted with the text in asking relevant questions,follow the steps below to gather detailed notes for writing the body ofyour paper:


A.     Considerhow the chosen passage fits within the overall flow of the book, particularlythe preceding and following passages (whenwriting your paper, keep this information to about two paragraphs).

o   How does this passage relate tothe authors overall purpose?

o   What overall theologicalemphases of the author in the book of James might contribute to a betterunderstanding of the meaning of the chosen passage?

B.     Researchthe cultural-historical background of the passage (consult Commentaries andrelevant Bible Dictionaries or helpful background books such as the IVP Biblical Background Commentary byCraig Keener).

C.     Makenote of any literary devices and their function in the passage.

D.      Optional:  For key sentences of the passage analyze thegrammar and function (consult exegetical commentaries and Hebrew or GreekGrammars).

E.      Analyzekey words of the passage (two or more):

a.       Determine the range of meaningthat the author may have intended by (1) consulting other translations andrelevant lexicons (BDAG preferred) and (2) see how the author used these keywords elsewhere in the letter of James.

b.      Optional:  Consider how this word used in other books ofthe New Testament or Old Testament (LXX).

c.       If relevant, consider how thisword is used in Greco-Roman culture.

d.       Based on the above analysis,decide on authorial intent and meaning for the significant word(s) andphrase(s).

F.      Investigatehow the theological concepts of the chosen passage relate to biblical andtheological teaching in James.

G.     Drawout two (or more) theological truths from the passagebe specific and clear.


When you have completed gathering relevant notes in theabove steps, you are now ready to organize and write your paper. (It is likelythat students will gather more information than five pages. A good paper willdo this and allow for editing, reducing, and revising so the information iswritten cohesively with clarity.)


        Introduction(in one paragraph gain attention in a relevant manner, and at the end of theparagraph write a one-sentence thematic thesis sentence).

        Body ofthe Paper

Interpretation (3 or more pages)

         Explainhow this passage fits within the overall flow of James, particularly inrelation to the theological flow of the letter (Step Akeep this part to twoparagraphs)

         Explainthe meaning of the passage, specifically what the author intended his reader(s)to understand then in the first century context (organize the informationfrom steps B thru E based on the internal divisions of the passage3 or morepages).

Theological Truths (incorporate information from steps F and Gone-pageminimum)

        Conclusion(in one paragraph, restatethe main ideas of paper without adding new information)

        Bibliography(include at least 4 scholarly sources in addition to your course commentary andtextbook).


Grading Criteria


Content (70%) -degree to which the paper adequately interprets a passage in James  (engaging course commentaries and scholarlyresearch and evidencing the above exegetical steps) and contributes to a betterunderstanding of James theological emphasis of the passage.

Grammar andstyle (20%) – degree to which the paper is free of errors, well organized,written with cohesive paragraphs, appropriate for the university level.

Formatting (10%)- degree to which the paper utilizes sources and follows the conventions forciting sources (Turabian style unless student receives approval to use APA).

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