What Is Exegesis and Eisegesis?

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What do the words exegesis and eisegesis mean? How is its related to interpreting the Bible?

In a theological sense, the definition of exegesis is an approach to interpreting Bible passages utilizing critical analysis. The word itself comes from a Greek word which means "to lead out of." It is the thorough investigation of Biblical text, within their various contexts, to discover the original intent of a word.

Exegesis is the opposite of eisegesis, which is to "read into" a particular text. In its modern usage, exegesis is a critical interpretation of text, whether or not it comes from the Scriptures.

"Exegesis is the process of seeking to understand what a text means or communicates on its own. Eisegesis is generally a derogatory term used to designate the practice of imposing a preconceived or foreign meaning onto a text, even if that meaning could not have been originally intended at the time of its writing." (Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms).

Exegesis that is correctly conducted uses several tools in order to arrive at what the writer is trying to convey to the reader. It additionally includes comprehending and analyzing both the literary and cultural context of Biblical verses and then using them to compare with verses elsewhere in Scripture to determine what God is saying.

´╗┐Exegesis, in short, is to dig out from a passage what it inherently is stating. Eisegesis, on the other hand, is the approach of interpreting passages by reading into them a particular belief that is not at all evident or clear.

Two Types

Two different types of exegesis exist. The first is called Rational and the second is called Revealed. The revealed type states that God's Spirit is the inspiration behind the writers of the Bible. The words within the pages of Scripture are written under God's divine inspiration and they convey his perfect will for mankind. Rational states the authors of the books of the Bible were using their own creative minds (without any influence from God) to compose their writings.

Taken together, these two types of exegesis state that some can study God's word believing he himself was the inspiration behind it while others study the Scriptures from the point of view that it is just a mere collection of made up stories, myths, tall tales, and so on.

Because prophecy was not brought at any time by human will, but the holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit (2Peter 1:21, HBFV).

Inspired Writers

The Bible clearly states its writers were inspired and even eyewitnesses to what they wrote. Rather than being a collection of fanciful fables or stories created out of the will of man, it teaches its words came from God to holy men and women through the power of the Holy Spirit. God's word should interpret itself and offer its own meaning. Revealed exegesis, as defined above, is the godly way to view the Scriptures. Eisegesis should, of course, be avoided.

List of All Terms in
Dictionary of Biblical Words

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