Questions concerns this thread:


I commented to the person answering:

Commentaries are certainly recommended, but not to form an entire answer. It's best to put an answer in your own words and use a commentary to support your answer.

To which they commented in return (citing the bounty text),

"Looking for an answer drawing from credible and/or official sources."

Is what they did considered "drawing" or copying? How should "drawing" be understood?


3 Answers 3


A general rule in research writing is to introduce a quotation, give the quote, then summarize the importance of the quote to the research question (or in this case, the BH.SE question).

I would expect this general form, at a minimum, for any answer that is primarily just a quote/s from a commentary/ies. The one answering should at least:

  1. give a statement about who they are quoting and why they (as the answerer) chose that source, and then after the quote,
  2. summarize what points the answerer found relevant in the quote in relation to the question posed; i.e., the one answering should explicitly draw the connection points rather than relying on the OP to necessarily have the same thought pattern and make the same connections (even though the connections may seem obvious to the one answering, one never knows it will be obvious to all).

To me, following such a format is "drawing" from credible/official sources, rather than "copying," and worthy of a BH.SE answer (at least in format; content and connections will depend on much more).


One of the acceptable reasons for deleting an answer is "This answer is a link-only answer". From this, I imply that we desire to have some exposition and should not simply referencing a scholarly work without any further discussion or introduction.

I see little difference from a link and just a quote with little or no accoutremonts. The only additional value that a commentary (only) provides over a link is that it does not suffer from link-rot. If link-rot prevention is the only reason we do not wish to see link-only answers, then simple quotes should be considered a good answer - but I believe there are many more reasons for not providing a link-only answer.

For example, Jon Ericson pointed out that answers should

add some sort of value over what might be discovered via a search engine

and that

quote only answers dismissive of the question in the same way that RTFM is. If the question can be answered with a quotation that is easily discovered via Google, the question was probably not constructive in the first place. So if another answer covered the same ground without being a bare quotation, the question must have had some merit.

But most of all, this site is designed to provide expert answers. Presumably, if the answer is already readily available, people would not be asking here. We are to be experts, not merely quote experts. Answers should be innovative and provide new, additional and supplementary material. If a question could be answered with a quick and basic search, it probably wan't a good question in the first place.


1. Question Restatement :

Is simply quoting from a commentary considered a good answer?

Note: In that question, maybe "official sources" was meant to mean non-opinion bases sources, that is: Primary Sources.

2. It is Question Specific:

It is probable that the example question you gave could be significantly informed - just by looking at the underlying syntax, parallel texts, etc.

However - the question is actually posed as a doctrinal inquiry, and doesn't consider the validity of the underlying translation.

  • Rely on Commentaries : for making arguments regarding historical interpretation, traditions, and research methods used in the past.

  • Rely on Primary Sources: for making Exegetical arguments, and challenging traditional presuppositions, (Primary Sources = original texts, histories, translations, etc).

3. Context :

Given the name of this Stack community, "Biblical Hermeneutics" :

  1. For Exegetical Analysis: The strength of Exegetical Answers often comes from relying on Primary Sources, Historical Narratives, Textual Analysis, and avoiding ecumenical biases and traditions;
  2. For Validating / Duplicating Research: Quotes from commentaries that show the research a commentator performed are incredibly helpful to jump-start research. (Quotes from Thayer's Lexicon are very helpful; but Alfred Eidersheim's "Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah" is sometimes conclusory, without explanations).
  3. Epistemology: Ancient commentaries can be very helpful when pursuing questions from an "epistemology" point of view - to document how people understood a given text, at a given time, and what traditions were associated with that understanding, (the Talmud, Mishneh, Early Church Fathers, etc).

For example:

  • The Nicene Creed serves as a Commentary - documenting when, and how, the Catholic Church understood the "Trinity" - as distinct personas, (which is different from Oneness Theology).
  • 1 John 5 Serves as a Primary Source - regarding the doctrine of the Trinity, which can be paralleled to many Scriptural references of "Water, Fire, and Blood"- in different contexts, affirming a covenant. And, it's different textual variations serve to illustrate the difficult history interpreting the passage.

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