Name Biblical text:
First, read the passage carefully and list some preliminary questions and observations on a
separate sheet of paper.
Step 1. Analysis: analyze the text to determine what the author intended to express
a. Literary genre. What kind of literature is this passage (for instance, is it a narrative,
discourse, dialogue, parable, poetry, genealogy)?
b. Literary context. What is the function of this passage within the larger section and
the biblical book (e.g., Mark) as a whole?
c. Outline or structure. What are the various parts of this text and how are they
d. Definition of key terms. What are the 3-5 most important terms the author uses, and
what do they mean?
e. Literary devices. Are there any literary devices (for instance, repetition, metaphor,
simile, hyperbole, irony, personification), and if so, what clues to they offer to the
f. Historical context. Are there are any historical, social, or cultural factors that may
shed light on the meaning of the text?
g. Biblical references. Does the text quote or allude to an earlier biblical text? If so,
how does it use this text?
h. Purpose. Why did the author write this passage? What question or problem was he
Step 2. Interpretation: explain what the text means in the light of Christian faith
a. Explain the meaning of the text in your own words. If it is a narrative, summarize it,
explaining its significance. If it is not a narrative, either paraphrase it or provide a
brief verse by verse commentary.
b. Canonical context. How does this passage compare with other texts in the Bible?
How do other texts complete, confirm, or balance this text?
c. Living tradition. How does the living tradition of the Church—the church fathers,
the liturgy, the writings of the saints, the Catechism—interpret this text?
d. Analogy of faith. Are there any Christian doctrines that this text sheds light on, or
grounds, or clarifies? How so?
Step 3. Actualization: apply the text to Christian life today
a. Is the Holy Spirit drawing your attention to some aspect of the text and its message?
b. What contemporary problems or questions relate to this text? Is the situation today
analogous to that addressed by the text? Are there important differences that need
to be taken into account?
c. What is the appropriate response to this text from Sacred Scripture? Is there a
warning to heed, an example to follow, a command to obey, a promise to trust,
wisdom to ponder, or a truth to believe? Does this text lead to self-examination and
repentance, to prayer or praise?