I am trying to improve my exegesis of biblical text and am attempting to get better with hermeneutical methods as they are focussed on understanding the meaning of the text in the context of the authors' intent.

There are a few approaches I have come across and started to explore:

  1. Phrasing - as described in Mounce’s “A Graded Reader of Biblical Greek” which is focussed on understanding how parts of text relate to each other without being as rigorous as (2). See phrasing chapter in this book; here is a publicly available explanation
  2. Grammatical diagramming – see example here. This has relationships to maths and propositional logic (e.g. see here)
  3. Arcing - explanation; examples; some people building on this

What is the difference between phrasing, diagramming and arcing as hermeneutical tools in exegesis in terms of their suitability for certain types situations, focus areas or otherwise? How far can the application of formal mathematical models (cf. predicate logic examples) be applied to natural language and what are the things to watch out for?

  • "This book", "available explanation", "example" "here", "explanation":, "examples", and "this" are very useless. Please explicitly quote the relevant part of each one so that readers don't have to do the research themselves. And of course at least one of these links no longer works, illustrating another reason why links should not be used for anything other than verification of what the Question claims it says. Nov 24, 2023 at 0:18

1 Answer 1


Since no one has stepped up with an answer in all this time, I'll give my view:

I see the difference as one of depth. Phrasing takes apart a given statement by dividing it into phrases so you can see a rough sentence structure and look at the relationship(s) between the phrases. Arcing does essentially the same thing but instead of listing the phrases a chart is used to show the structure.

Both of these are less in-depth than diagramming because in diagramming you have to thoroughly analyze the grammar including conjunctions and -- critically -- prepositions. Diagramming can include phrasing because every part of the sentence is set out, but it can also break up phrases and thus show the relationships not just between but within phrases. So if you diagram a sentence you will get the information that phrasing and arcing will give plus more.

As to how to do them, the references given with the question are sufficient to show that.

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