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3 B102 Wesleyan Interpretation of Scripture

Course Description

A study of the methods and tools of biblical interpretation and their application to various literary types found in Scripture.

Students will learn to make careful observations, interpret the historical and literary contexts, and come to understand the key themes of a passage. Students will be able to list points of similarity and difference between the biblical situation and the contemporary situations of their local congregation or cultural context. They will be equipped to teach others to use the same methods. Tools and methods will be emphasized that are effective in contexts that have limited access to study materials in a local language.

Course Rational

One of the significant challenges we face today is taking the message of the Bible and making it relevant and understandable to contemporary cultures and contexts far removed from the cultures of the Bible. The message of the Bible is transforming but it must be interpreted accurately. Students at all levels can learn basic skills to help them make more accurate interpretations without imposing their own ideas. Culture sometimes can be a major influence on this process. All of ministry hinges upon reading God’s word.

This course will guide the students in developing sound interpretive techniques. It will expose the students to the awareness of the nature of the Bible and the history of the transmission of the biblical texts, both OT and NT. Basic exegetical procedures will be presented and students will have the opportunity to follow a step by step process of exegesis leading to a paper, sermon, or Bible study.

Program Outcomes


CN-2 Ability to describe the content, genre, major characters, historical context, main events, and theological themes of the Old Testament.

CN-3 Ability to describe the basic content and theological themes of the New Testament, identify the principal people and events and their roles in New Testament history.

CN-4 Ability to explain the basic principles of biblical interpretation.

CN-6 Ability to explain how the theological foundations of Christianity proceed from the Scriptures.

CN-15 Ability to demonstrate theological reflection that integrates the Wesleyan approach to Scripture, Tradition, Reason and Experience.


CP-13 Ability to interpret and apply Scripture to personal and congregational life.


CH-1 Ability to find, understand and utilize resources for one’s own spiritual growth in prayer, Bible study, and personal devotion with the goal of becoming like Christ. CH-1


CX-6 Ability to compare between worldviews and values from the Bible, contemporary cultures, and the local context.

Activity Outcomes


ACC-1 Demonstrate a Christ-like character of submission, integrity and love in all relationships.


ADM-3 Explain the development of authority and structures from the early church (New Testament) until modern times.


DIS-4 Use the reading of God’s Word to foster spiritual growth and for personal devotions.

DIS-14 Prepare, organize, and deliver a biblically sound lesson or sermon using culturally sensitive techniques and skills.


Min-10 Demonstrate how to communicate orally and visually while adapting to the worldview, culture, sociological dynamics and trends of your audience.


PRA-1 Model the prayers of Christ and His relationship to the Father through a strong passion for a life of prayer shown by devoting time to prayer and keeping a prayer journal, including a list of lost people for whom God has made them responsible.


PRE-2 Interpret the Bible within its historical and cultural contexts, recognize different literary genres in the Bible and how to interpret them in appropriate ways, identify the message and key theological concepts for the original audience, and apply the message through a sermon to contemporary audiences in contextually relevant ways.

PRE-10 Tell the story of the expansion of Christianity during different points in history, noting key ideas, persons, dates, and locations. Explain how holiness has been a key theme of the church throughout the ages. Connect the growth of the church and development of theology to the student’s current context of ministry.

PRE-13 Explain how God communicated his word to humanity as recorded in the Bible and the place of preaching in this.

Content 47%
Competency 22%
Character 18%
Context 13%

Course Texts

Bible in student’s language.

Callen, Barry, and Richard Thompson. Reading the Bible in Wesleyan Ways: Some Constructive Proposals. Kansas City: Beacon Hill Press, 2004. ISBN: 978-0834120488

Fee, Gordon. How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2014. ISBN: 978-0310517825

Interpreting Scripture. RIIE Course Module. Kansas City: Clergy Services, 2004. 

Course Requirements

  1. The local school’s attendance policy should be placed here.
  2. Bible Reading and Prayer Journal: Students should read through the Bible as designated in the Master Plan for Bible Reading in the Course of Study. For this course, students will read Exodus 28 – Leviticus 21 and Mark 1 – 10. The focus of the Scripture reading and prayer time for this course is on students’ response to God’s call to love others. Sometime during each week, in response to what God is peaking to them about, students should determine one tangible way to express love to others. This may be a family member, a neighbor, friend, co-worker, or stranger. Students will then write at the close of the week at least one paragraph of 200 words reporting their experience and what God taught them through this experience.

(Outcomes CH-1, ACC-1, DIS-4, PRA-1)

  1. Inductive work: There will be weekly exercises from the Scripture reading that will teach students good observation skills. Most of these assignments should be less than one page and take about an hour to complete. Some of these assignments can be done during class time in small groups, as determined by the instructor. At times, students will be called to share their insights and responses as individuals and/or groups.
    1. Understanding Contexts (historical, cultural, and literary)
    2. Asking Questions (observing the details of a passage)
    3. Connecting to real life (self, church, community)

(Outcomes CN-4, CN-15, CP-13, DIS-4, PRE-2)

  1. Exegetical Project: Students will work on a major exegetical project during the course where they will focus on a specific passage (chosen in cooperation with the instructor) of 5-15 verses (or a specific and limited pericope).
    1. Steps of Exegesis: Students will follow steps that will explore the various contexts of the passage (historical, literary, cultural), literary features of the passage (genre, grammar, characters, key words), and the theological message. The steps will culminate in applying the message to the students’ lives and their context of ministry.
    2. Exegetical paper: The steps of exegesis will be put together into a coherent written presentation of 8-10 pages. As an alternative for those contexts where writing or typing is difficult, an oral presentation can be made to the class of the same material.

(Outcomes CN-2, CN-3, CN-4, CN-15, CP-13, PRE-2)

  1. Application Project: Based on the exegetical work in 4 above, students will prepare a public presentation of the message of the passage. This presentation should be relevant to the student’s ministry context. Students may choose from the following types of presentations:
    1. Sermon: Following good form that is culturally relevant, present the message of the passage in a worship setting, making careful connection to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
    2. Bible Study: Present the message in a study format with a clear lesson plan, including appropriate discussion questions to which the group can respond.
    3. Sunday School Lesson: This can be prepared for a specific age level. The material must be presented in a way that will understandable to that age level. Appropriate learning aides should also be prepared or described, such as handouts, charts, crafts, etc.

In appropriate settings, arrangements should be made for the student to give the presentation in an actual ministry setting. If this is not possible, class sessions can be arranged to give each student opportunity to practice and give the presentation to the class. Instructors can decide how evaluation is to be done, but recommended is a simple tally sheet for a lay member of the audience to complete.

(Outcomes CN-6, CN-15, CP-13, CX-6, DIS-14, MIN-10, PRE-2, PRE-13)

  1. Exam: There will be one exam mid-course that will cover the course materials related to the canonization of the Bible and the history of interpretation covered in the first half of the course. (Outcomes CN-2, CN-3, CN-6, PRE-2, PRE-10)

Course Evaluation

Spiritual Reflection Journal:                                         10%

(can be graded on a complete/incomplete basis)

Inductive Work  (1% pts. each x 15)                            15%

(can be graded on a complete/incomplete basis)

Steps of Exegesis (2.5% each)                                    25%

Exegetical Paper                                                          20%

Application Project                                                        20%

Exam                                                                            10%

Course Outline:

Session One: The Bible as God’s Word

  1. Introduce the Course and Syllabus
  2. Personal Introductions and Testimonies
  3. Small Group Discussion Questions
  4. Scripture Reading and Reflection Journal: Exodus 28-29; Mark 1.
  5. Choose a passage for exegetical study

Session Two: A Theology of Interpretation

  1. Inductive Exercise #1: The teacher can help students understand labels, divisions, references. Students look up specific passages, give abbreviations and proper references of chapter and verse. Students determine the beginning and ending of a narrative, poetry, and teaching section found in Exodus and Mark.
  2. Small Group Discussion Questions
  3. Scripture Reading and Reflection Journal: Exodus 30-31.
  4. Steps of Exegesis: Students should choose the passage for their Exegetical Project in consultation with the instructor

Session Three: How We Got the Bible

  1. Small Group Discussion Questions
  2. Scripture Reading and Reflection Journal: Exodus 32; Mark 2

Session Four: Working with Translations

  1. Small Group Discussion Questions
  2. Alternative Exercises
  3. Transliteration of Hebrew and Greek Letters
  4. Scripture Reading and Reflection Journal: Exodus 33-34
  5. The Bible in Your Language Community Exercise

Session Five: The History of Interpretation—Biblical, Jewish, and Patristic Exegesis

  1. Small Group Discussion Questions
  2. Scripture Reading and Reflection Journal: Exodus 35; Mark 3
  3. Presupposition Exercise.

Session Six: Medieval, Reformation, and 18th Century Developments

  1. Small Group Discussion Questions
  2. Report back on Presupposition Exercise Oral Report
  3. Scripture Reading and Reflection Journal: Exodus 36-37

Session Seven: Modern Methods and Contemporary Issues

  1. Small Group Discussion Questions
  2. Scripture Reading and Reflection Journal: Exodus 38; Mark 4
  3. Prepare for Quiz next week on Sessions 1-7

Session Eight: Wesleyan Interpretation

  1. Quiz on the Bible as the Word of God (Sessions 1-7)
  2. Small Group Discussion Questions
  3. Scripture Reading and Reflection Journal: Exodus 39-40

Session Nine: Inductive Bible Study

  1. Small Group Discussion Questions
  2. Scripture Reading and Reflection Journal: Leviticus 1; Mark 5
  3. Steps of Exegesis #1: Prayer
  4. Steps of Exegesis #2: Asking Questions

Session Ten: Historical Exegesis: Behind the Text

  1. Scripture Reading and Reflection Journal: Leviticus 2-3
  2. Steps of Exegesis #3: Historical Context

Session Eleven: Cultural Exegesis: Behind the Text

  1. Scripture Reading and Reflection Journal: Leviticus 4-5; Mark 6
  2. Steps of Exegesis #4: Cultural Context

Session Twelve: Literary Context

  1. Scripture Reading and Reflection Journal: Leviticus 6-7
  2. Steps of Exegesis #5: Literary Context

Session Thirteen: Word Studies

  1. Scripture Reading and Reflection Journal: Leviticus 8-9; Mark 7
  2. Steps of Exegesis #6: Translation
  3. Steps of Exegesis #7: Key Words

Session Fourteen: Analyzing the Relationships of Words

  1. Scripture Reading and Reflection Journal: Leviticus 10-11
  2. Steps of Exegesis #8: Sentences

Session Fifteen: Literary Genres and How to Interpret Them

  1. Small Group Discussion Questions
  2. Scripture Reading and Reflection Journal: Leviticus 12-13; Mark 8
  3. Steps of Exegesis #9: Literary Genre

Session Sixteen: Finding the Message of a Passage

  1. Small Group Discussion Questions
  2. Scripture Reading and Reflection Journal: Leviticus 14-15
  3. Steps of Exegesis #10: Message

Session Seventeen: Application

  1. Small Group Discussion Questions
  2. Scripture Reading and Reflection Journal: Leviticus 16-17; Mark 9
  3. Exegetical Project:
    1. Work on researching and writing your exegetical paper.
    2. Work on the application project and prepare to present it.

Session Eighteen: The Role of the Holy Spirit

  1. Inductive Exercise # 15: Developing a Bible Study Lesson
  2. Scripture Reading and Reflection Journal: Leviticus 18-19
  3. Inductive Exercise # 14: Developing a Bible Study Lesson

Session Nineteen: How to Prepare Bible Studies and Sermons

  1. Small groups can prepare a Bible Study during the class meeting.
  2. In-class presentations of application project
  3. Scripture Reading and Reflection Journal: Leviticus 20; Mark 10

Session Twenty: The Bible and the Mission of God

  1. Practice Lectio Divina.
  2. In-class presentations of application project continued
  3. Scripture Reading and Reflection Journal: Leviticus 21
  4. Exegetical Paper Due
  5. Evaluations of Ministry Project Due