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explanation or critical interpretation of a text, esp of the Bible


(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Exegesis is the science (some would call it an art or method of interpretation) of determining exactly the meaning of a particular passage of writing. This technique is used by all who study any writing, but especially by those who study religious scripture. Scriptures of all religions were written within the context of a particular culture and belief system. No one can write without having a certain frame of reference. Words mean different things to different people. Worldviews change. Even the meanings of words change over the years. Imagine the embarrassment a modern teenager feels when asked to stand up during a youth-group meeting of her peers and read the Kings James version of the Ten Commandments. What will she do when she gets to the part that says we are not to "covet our neighbor's ass"? She would have been on solid ground back in the seventeenth century. But the language is a bit awkward in the twenty-first.

Gabriel Fackre of Andover Newton Seminary has developed a formula that can be used by anyone who wants to do exegesis. This four-part system, outlined in Gabriel and Dorothy Fackre's book Christian Basics, works especially well when dealing with the Bible, but it can also be used by the student of mythology or any other ancient writing:

1. Common Sense: Start with its common-sense meaning—reading it just like a newspaper story.

2. Critical Sense: Next check out the ideas of some of the other students who have studied the passage's background, original language, and literary style.

3. Canonical Sense: Compare it to the rest of the author's writing. Is it consistent with the rest of the story?

4. Contextual Sense: What does the passage mean in terms of personal and contemporary culture?

The system will save the student from arriving at conclusions that might be "contemporary" or "politically correct" but totally at odds with what the original author really meant.

References in periodicals archive ?
Biblical Recorder, November 10, 1962; White, "Death in a Pot"; Clark Pinnock, "Review of The Broadman Bible Commentary, Volume 1: Genesis and Exodus, and Volume 8: Matthew and Mark," Christianity Today 14, no.
The Women's Bible Commentary (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1998); Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza, ed.
His special point of view is lacking in the Anchor Bible commentary of Mitchell Dahood, S.
Clear and concise, where a single word often suffices to summarize a statement or anticipate a question, Rashi's kuntres stands in stark incisive contrast to his Bible commentary.
The Columbia Theological Seminary professor turns his insightful skills toward the book of Kings, which is part of a new Bible commentary series from Smith & Helwys.
I think for ordinary people, the three that are the most helpful are the New Jerome Biblical Commentary (Prentice Hall, 1989), the Collegeville Bible Commentary (Liturgical Press, 1992), and Harper's Bible Commentary (Harper San Francisco, 1988).
Across the nation, in places like Olathe, 20 miles southwest of Kansas City, Christian bookstores have existed for decades, usually as small, husband-and-wife enterprises, geared to providing churches with Sunday school curriculum and the devout with the latest Bible commentary.
The Women's Bible Commentary is a ground-breaking and most fruitful exercise where Carol Newsom and Sharon Ringe have tapped the resources of a large group of women biblical scholars, each a specialist in the field, to comment on all the books of the Bible, including the apocrypha.
A similar, though much shorter, compendium in the United States is found in the Women's Bible Commentary (3rd edition, 2012).
This twenty-fourth volume in the Believers Church Bible Commentary series achieves the aims of the series, which are to flesh out "the original message of Scripture" for pastors, teachers, and leaders in churches and to suggest ongoing meaning for today (13).
Your gift will help provide new graduates from Zomba Theological College with a start-up library of resource books, including a Bible commentary, Bible dictionary, systematic theology book and counselling handbook.