exegesis(redirected from Bible, Interpretation of)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus.
Exegesis(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.