Healer’s Path Class – Exegetical Exercise

nhm_hpathclassObjectives: During this exercise, you will gain the skill of analying sacred scriptureexegesis – using a Healer’s Path framework.

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The following outline will help you along the road to success when preparing a written exegesis (analysis, exploration) of sacred text.





Make a list of all the groups of people you can label as experiencing some sense of harm or about whom you might be able to undertake this exegesis.  For example, the video covered exegesis on behalf of women in religious roles, and explored exegesis on behalf of widows where they are oppressed.  What groups might you also be able to consider?  If you are having trouble thinking of such a group, consider how you define yourself, and then choose someone from a group that you would define as different (caste, race, body size, affliction, gender orientation, etc.).  Think of an area where people are currently in danger. For example, in parts of Africa, it is a death offense to be gay. People are actually being killed for it. This topic may not call to you, but another topic might.  Try to list at least five groups that might be worthy of exploration. Of these five, try to ensure that three are in your location (your country, state, province or town and so on) so that you might have the possibility to meet someone from that group.  A likely topic: any group that is besieged, meaning either mistreated, not subject to full protections, or otherwise at risk, or not made entirely comfortable – welcomed and honored as a beloved child of God – in your house of worship.  For each of your potential groups, answer the following: 1) How would you define this group?  2) How would they define themselves?  And 3) How close is this group to your own circle? That is, do you know anyone from this group? If not, do you have any connections who do? Would you be able to easily meet someone from this group, if you wanted to? Would you know how to take a step to do so?  If any passages spring to mind as potentially meriting exploration, jot them down.

In your journal, you may wish to craft the questions that you’d enjoy asking a member of the group of interest. What would you ask? What would you be afraid to ask, or hesitant about, and why? In your journal, jot down for yourself any questions you might have regarding this assignment, or challenges or difficulties you have faced, and how you plan to overcome them.



In this step, you make your selection and create your rough outline.  In this outline, you will touch on these important areas:
  1. The Group – definition, history and so on. Has suffering come to this group? How so?  Would you define them as downtrodden, or outcast? See also our Spiritual Holistic Inquiry Process (SHIP) methodology for details on analyzing individuals and groups (and even cities) holistically. If applicable, how has your own community been complicit in allowing or perpetuating this suffering? For example, are laws applied unequally or do they weigh more heavily?If convenient and safe, and you have not already done so, you may wish to consider finding a way to meet a member of the potential group, to learn more, from the source.
  2. Difficult PassagesWhat passages, if any, have been used to justify harm / exclusion / marginalization / ostracizing behavior, such as barring participation as full members of society, or in church (e.g., partaking in holy sacraments)? List as many as you can, during this outline phase.
  3. Support Passages What passages, if any, have been or could be used to justify support / inclusion / harm-prevention? List as many as you care to, during this outline phase. Spend at half an hour looking up texts and working up your outline, in support of your side of the argument, and especially any texts pertaining to this particular group you are defending. Spend a little time considering: What would be the arguments you would expect to hear against you, and how would you counter them? What is the closest story you can find, in the Gospel accounts, that relates to this topic? What did Jesus do? If you cannot find passages in direct support, locate passages that hint at such support [For example, Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan in support of outsiders].



Continue your exegesis. Review your outline based on what you have learned about Healer’s Path methodology.  Begin examining key scriptural verses, and begin preparing your rough draft for feedback
  • For negative passages – those that have been lobbied against your chosen group, imagine the group is under attack right now, and that you are their defender. Make your best case for an alternate reading of a passage.
  • For positive passages, those that best justify support / inclusion / harm-prevention regarding your group of choice, the job is less difficult.

FIRST Look at the plain meaning  (in Hebrew, that’s Peshat –  פְּשָׁט ). What do these passages say, on their surface? For supportive passages, look for plain meaning texts in support of this group. What did Jesus say or do regarding them, or was He silent?

SECOND Look beneath, for hints (in Hebrew, that’s Remez – רֶמֶז) à

  1. Examine traditions of interpretation for the passage(s), and whether these interpretations have changed over time.
  2. Examine the historical and cultural context in which the passage(s) were written and is there anything about this context that could (or should) be taken into consideration when interpreting this passage [e.g., cleanliness/pork]. What, if anything, in our current cultural context and understanding that affects our reading of these passages [e.g., status of certain groups then and now]? 
  3. Find hints by asking questions of a sociological nature, such as whether there may be any political or financial motivations behind any of these interpretations [e.g., the pro-slavery argument], and whether these passages have been used, historically, against other groups. If they have, examine that history, and why and how they were set aside [e.g., the anti-mixed-marriage argument, Aryan Paragraph in Nazi Germany disallowing clergy of Jewish descent].
  4. Weigh the passage. All scripture is profitable for us, but not all is directly applicable to all situations. For example, a passage with a commandment or example by Jesus should be given greater weight, for a Christ follower, than other passages. Look at the location of these passages, and consider whether the intercession of God’s grace through Jesus’ life, death & resurrection has shed new light. [e.g., did the cross reconcile women as well as men, or are they still especially to be blamed as daughters of Eve? Shall we believe Paul that we are all new creations in Him?]
  5. If you are skilled in Hebrew or Greek (as applicable), perhaps look at specific words in case they can shed more light.
  6. Holding all the above in mind, seek to interpret the text (in Hebrew, that’s Derash – דְּרַשׁ ) for yourself. Is it actually possible to read these passages using different interpretations? How many interpretations can you imagine? Which ones are relevant to your target group? Which ones are most compelling to you? Is there one that speaks to your heart, as beautiful? If you are the defender of this group, which interpretation speaks most strongly in their defense. Is that an interpretation you can live with? Make your best case [the one you can live with and feel good about] for an alternate reading of the passage in support of your chosen group. 
  7. You might want to compare the number of passages in support against the number of passages historically used against. That is, count up the non-supportive passages against the number of supportive passages (those passages calling for active harm prevention, on the healer’s path. Can the relative numbers reveal any hints? That is, is there a conclusion to be drawn, from this ratio alone? In light of all the above, and interpret the Bible’s call regarding this group, for yourself.
  8. Consider your “viewing lens.” For Christians, this will be Jesus’ life, ministry, death and resurrection.

THIRD – Guided by the Holy Spirit, this effort will be fruitful, and will help you get at the deeper meaning, or secret truth hidden within the text (in Hebrew, that’s Sod סוֹד). Then, begin to craft your best case for this group, perhaps finding something more than simply that oppression is not biblical or that Jesus loves sinners, but something deeper that may be healing of old wounds and our tendency to label as “other” or “lesser” than ourselves.   

FINALLY – Armed with a truth that feels deeply right, within your heart, and that is concordant with a healer’s frame of mind, begin to craft your best case for this group.



Continue to craft your best case for the group you have selected. Share it with a friend, a fellow student, or with a colleague, for feedback.  In your journal, craft the questions that you’d enjoy asking a member of the group of interest. What would you ask? What would you be afraid to ask, or hesitant about, and why?  In your journal, jot down for yourself any questions you might have regarding this assignment, or challenges or difficulties you have faced, and how you plan to overcome them.  If convenient and safe, consider finding a way to meet a member of this group, to learn more, from the source.  



Review feedback on your draft from friends or colleagues and the feedback you have received from your midpoint self-assessment. Address any concerns.  Continue to craft your best case for the group you have selected, based on new knowledge you are learning, weekly. Continue to develop your draft and add thoughtful commentary to it, as you move forward.  Sum it up: what conclusions can you draw, from your logical, studied analysis of the above? What do you suggest be done, given your conclusions? Is there anything that calls to you, personally, as an action step (e.g., making the group a subject for a Bible study, or so on)?Summarize your best case for the group you have selected. Share it with a friend, a fellow student, or with a colleague, for feedback. And then be sure to listen to the feedback and consider it prayerfully.



Final exegesis should be complete enough to do justice to the topic. Practice excellence, making yourself proud. Consider an end result no less than five pages, no more than twenty, double-spaced, and that uses Times New Roman 12 pt. font, with proper footnotes and references, as appropriate, following the Chicago Manual of Style for citations.  Don’t forget to have a friend check your spelling, punctuation, and grammar.


Please do not attempt a mental exegesis exercise before completing at least the first three sessions. At that point, you can undertake the exercise as often as you wish. To complete a mental exegesis exercise, first you will need to make the mental space to accomplish it. Set aside half an hour for prayerful contemplation.Think of a group for whom you’d like to try your hand at being a defender, using this technique. You can stretch yourself. You don’t have to show anyone this work.




Prayer: Praise

Begin with a prayer of thanksgiving and praise.  Thank God that you have been given the a heart for harm prevention, and have been blessed to be walking a healer’s path with God.  All praise to God, for this great gift.


Scripture: The Word of God

Now, Spend your contemplative time thinking about the group. Consider for a moment the arguments you might expect to hear against them, and how you might counter them, as an advocate on their behalf. Ask yourself: what are the closest passages (e.g., in a Christian context, a healer’s path practitioner would surely include the Gospel stories, asking,“What did Jesus do?”).  With this in mind, turn to scripture. Find the strongest passages that relate, and consider them in light of the overarching story, as you understand it. As an advocate, the point is to stretch your mind, and find yourself ever more capable of using sacred scripture as a tool in the defense of the defenseless..


Prayer: Thanksgiving

Thank God for blessing you with wisdom, insight, guidance, in the blessed assurance that you will be granted  insight – that God will gently guide your hands and feet and heart and mind, in this matter.



About The Course: The Healer’s Path was created by Rev. Dr. Lauren Speeth in cooperation with Bakke Graduate University and Union University International to equip students with the tools they need when working to bring healing and transformational change in their various spheres of influence.  As implemented at BGU, the course will be online and self-paced, and can be started and completed in as little as nine weeks. It awards 30 clock hour of continuing education credit and a BGU Certificate of Achievement.  As implemented at UUI, the course will be a part of a degree program, and follows a set schedule with additional assignments.  For more information about this course, including how to register, visit the project overview page.

Bakke Graduate University is a North-American graduate school of business, ministry, and theology originally located in Seattle, Washington,  and now in Texas, offering classes in  the USA and worldwide in online and on-campus formats. With students, alumni and faculty located in over 50 nations, BGU’s global community connects through online courses and urban immersion experiences in the largest cities on four continents. Students in the masters- and doctoral programs receive customized attention, and are mentored by front-line world leaders. The school’s unique and innovative focus is to teach transformational leadership through urban development, responsible business, and Christian theology. Website: www.bgu.edu.

Union University International has programs designed to give educational access to the world’s underserved ministry leaders, providing the opportunity to study in practical, holistic ministry leadership training programs by making education affordable, accessible from any location, in the Vietnamese, Indonesian, Spanish and English languages, with plans for curriculum options in other prominent languages. Website: www.uui.us.

Ministrants.com provides digital inspiration and resources inspired by Jesus’ life-affirming, open-armed presence. In a world needful of healing, hope & harmony, where underdogs lack champions, and “spiritual but not religious” is trending, we’re here to help you help. We aim to help equip and empower ministrants as follow the call to heal the world… because all who are called, are called to be healers, and “first, do no harm.” A division of Elfenworks Productions, LLC, “Beyond Film & Music,” at www.elfenworksproductions.com. www.elfenworksproductions.com.

Course Instructor, Rev. Dr. Lauren Speeth completed her religious training at Stanford University Hospital and Clinics, in an interfaith chaplaincy Clinical Pastoral Education program. Prior to this, she earned her DMin from BGU Seattle after earning her BA at Mills College, her MBA at St. Mary’s, and her DBA at GGU. Rev. Speeth is the author of several books, including Intelligence & Compassion in Action (social entrepreneurship), Tracks of Hope (addressing poverty and inequality in the USA), and eMinistry, as well as various music and film releases. Every day, she and her colleagues leverage high-tech experience and a gift for storytelling to foster creative solutions that advance pro-social change, on the cutting edge of hope.

Terms of use: All materials in this course, unless otherwise noted, will be released in 2016 and are copyright © 2016 by Elfenworks Productions, LLC, with all rights reserved. Sharing, reproduction, or unauthorized distribution of its contents are prohibited. The original purchaser or the designee of the original purchaser is exclusively granted a license to access this online course material. Additional users may purchase a license to access this course material through authorized sales agents. For more information about this course, including how to register, visit the project overview page.

Categories Edify | Tags: | Posted on January 14, 2014

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