Essay Sample: The Old Testament and the New Testament Analysis

Published: 2022-04-27
Essay Sample: The Old Testament and the New Testament Analysis
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Bible
Pages: 5
Wordcount: 1110 words
10 min read

This paper provides a comparison of major differences in exegetical methodologies for New Testament and Old Testament analysis. By definition, exegetical methodology refers to the careful examination of biblical texts in their literary and historical contexts (Whang, 2010). Typically, the process of exegesis involves asking analytical questions about the various aspects of biblical texts and their contexts. It involves asking critical questions based on predetermined criteria that are objective and clear.

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There are various ways of performing biblical exegesis for the Old Testament and New Testament genres. One of these methods is the historical-critical methodology. A key aspect of this methodology is the composition history criticism. In both genres, this aspect focuses on asking questions about the author of the text, and what is known about their background (Osborne, 2006). Sometimes, the attributed author of a text is not necessarily the actual author. Composition history criticism focuses on how and what circumstances led to the work being attributed to a different author (Robbins, 2006). Other questions asked include who the original recipients of the work were and what necessitated the work to be written (Robson, 2009). Textual criticism focuses on whether there are any variations in the ancient manuscripts. The variations can be significant or negligible, regardless of the nature of the variations, the analysis focuses on whether they are intentional or accidental (Soulen & Soulen, 2001). Other issues addressed include whether the texts have any underlying sources and which version of the source was likely used.

Another common exegetical methodology is the traditional literary criticism. This methodology focuses on the nature of words used in the text and their varied range of meanings (Traina, 2005). Traditional literary criticism also focuses on the elements of imagery and symbolism as used in the text and what they signify (Cousar, 2011). Other important aspects covered include analysis of the various characters that appear within a text and what is known about their backgrounds (Vanhoozer, 2009). Relationships between characters are also analyzed in traditional literary criticism. According to Barentsen (2011), exegetical methods also involve comparisons of translations. This method entails analysis of any significant differences between various translations of the texts. It also focuses on when each translation was done, as well as the philosophy that was used (Stowers, 2009). The various philosophies used in translation are usually related to the underlying Greek or Hebrew texts (Wall, 2002). The philosophies will help in highlighting whether any information has been obscured or lost in the process of translation.

Another important aspect of exegetical methods is rhetorical analysis. The central focus of this analysis is on the message that the author is trying to convey through the text. More specifically, the focus should be on whether the author is attempting to inspire, instruct, persuade or caution the reader (Metzger, 2007). For each of these goals, different rhetorical techniques will be used. The rhetorical analysis goes hand in hand with semiotic analysis (Neste, 2004). Focus here is on the deeper patterns in the meanings that are conveyed through the specific words, symbols, and phrases that are used in the text.

The most important way in which analysis of New Testament differs from that of the Old Testament is the canonical approach. In this approach, the analysis focuses on examining where the text belongs in the literary context of each respective bible (Krauth, 2011). For the New Testament analysis, the focus is on how the texts are related to the ones in the Old Text. Additionally, the analysis may focus on how the location of a particular text within the canon influences its meaning and significance (Soulen, 2001). Another area of difference is about the use of Jewish Interpretative techniques (Malina, 2001). Here, the focus is on how the Jewish methods of interpretation are reflected in the text and what their implication is in the wider context of the canon (Towner, 2006). Any noted differences are compared to the parallels and similarities in the rabbinic literature.

Based on the preceding discussion, it is clear that specific steps are involved in the analysis of the two testaments. The first step is the understanding of the text in its context. Here, the main question to be asked is what the original text meant to the biblical audience (Bahr, 2010). The second step is the examination of the possible differences between the original audiences and the modern audiences. The third step is the examination of the underlying theological principle implied in the text (Laniak, 2006). Regardless of the intended meaning of the text, the canonical principle should be easy to decipher (Deissmann, 2008). The fourth step is the examination of how the identified theological principle fits in the context of the Bible. The last step is the examination of how modern Christians live through the dictates of the theological principles.

Cohort Questions

i. What insights can be gained from exegetical analysis of the Old and New Testaments?

ii. How can differences in traditional literary criticism of the Old and new testaments be explained?


Towner, P. (2006). The Letters to Timothy and Titus. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

Traina, R. (2005). Methodical Bible Study. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Francis Asbury Press.

Vanhoozer, K. J. (2009). Is there a meaning in this text?: The Bible, the reader and the morality of literary knowledge. Zondervan.

Wall, R. W. (2002). Introduction to Epistolary Literature. Nashville: Abingdon.

Whang, Y. C. (2010). Paul's Letter Paraenesis. Leiden: Brill.

Bahr, G. (2010). Paul and Letter Writing in the First Century. Catholic Biblical Quarterly, 28, 465-77.

Barentsen, J. (2011). Emerging Leadership in the Pauline Mission: A Social Identity Perspective on Local Leadership Development in Corinth and Ephesus. Boston: Pickwick Publications.

Cousar, C. (2011). The Letters of Paul: Interpreting Biblical Texts. Nashville: Abingdon

Deissmann, G. A. (2008). Bible Studies. Trans. Alexander Grieve. 1901. Peabody: Hendrickson.

Krauth, N. (2011). Evolution of the exegesis: the radical trajectory of the creative writing doctorate in Australia. Journal of writing and writing courses, 15(1), 25-48.

Laniak, T. (2006). Shepherds after my own heart: Pastoral Traditions and Leadership in the Bible. New York: InterVarsity Press.

Malina, B. J. (2001). The New Testament World: Insights from Cultural Anthropology. London: Westminster John Knox Press.

Metzger, B. M. (2007). The Canon of the New Testament: Its Origin, Development, and Significance. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Neste, R. (2004). Cohesion and Structure in the Pastoral Epistles. London: T &T Clark.

Osborne, G. R. (2006). The Hermeneutical Spiral: A Comprehensive Introduction to Biblical Interpretation. IVP Academic.

Robbins, V. (2006). Exploring the Texture of Texts: A Guide to Socio-Rhetorical Interpretation. Harrisburg, PA: Trinity Press International.

Robson, E. (2009). Composition and Dictation in New Testament Books. Journal of Theological Studies, 18(8), 288-301.

Soulen, R. & Soulen, R. K. (2001). Handbook of biblical criticism. Louisville, Ky.: Westminster John Knox Press.

Soulen, R. (2001). Handbook of Biblical Criticism. New York: John Knox.

Stowers, S. K. (2009). Letter Writing in Greco-Roman Antiquity. Library of Early Christianity. Ed. Wayne A. Meeks. Philadelphia: Westminster.

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