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REL 213 - Writing an Exegetical Paper

Formal Analysis

Formal Analysis 

Formal Analysis deals with how the passage is structured.

When working in the formal analysis section of your exegetical paper, this section looks at the movement of the text. Be aware that different forms of literature will have different structures.

  • Look for key words and main ideas throughout your passage.
  • Outlines are the most helpful with the formal analysis section.
  • Get a printed out copy of your passage, and write on it, circle words and ideas. Get creative on this print out.
  • Look phrases, words, or actions that stand out.
  • Look for repetition.



  • To create a structure for your section is to create an outline of your passage.
  • You will want to make sure every verse is included in the outline. 
  • Be brief in your descriptions.
  • Look for themes and correlations to the verses.
  • Try to maintain unity as much as possible within the structure.


Research Instructions

You do not need any library resources. This will all need to come from your own ability to break down the passage into an outline. 

Example of Outline

Sample Outline

  1. Where does wisdom come from? v.20-22
  1. Where does wisdom come from vv.20
  2. It is hidden from the living and dead realm v.21-22
  1. God knows about wisdom v.23-27
  1. God knows its path v.23-24
  2. God and creation v.25-26
  3. God gave the same kind of restrictions on wisdom that he did for creation. vv.27
  1. What real wisdom is vv.28
  1. Fear of the Lord is wisdom. vv.28

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