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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 ?
In the conclusion, Rowland lights on the phrase "dialectical interpretation" (237) to describe Blake's biblical exegesis (and his exegesis of texts in general), a phrase that could have been very fruitful if introduced earlier and developed throughout the study.
Her second goal is to discover the role of biblical exegesis in the development of confessional identity.
Such modern critical approaches to the conversations in the Bible are promising methodologically, especially because Biblical exegesis tends to concentrate on the text only, in particular from a semiotic perspective.
This is not a bad thing, so long as one does not expect straightforward historical narrative or biblical exegesis (though there is some of each).
Maybe bishops or priests' councils should offer refresher courses in both biblical exegesis and homiletics.
Max Engammare opens with an informative survey covering the practice of the paraphrase in general and in biblical exegesis before Erasmus.
The talmudic passage cited above is rare in the following sense: Ordinarily, talmudic biblical exegesis is based on words used singly, and the talmudic student is left to his own resources to guess at the underlying talmudic exegetical principle and to review similar passages to ascertain the consistency of the exegetical rule.
36) Adhering to the cardinal rule of fundamentalist exegesis that the Bible cannot contradict itself, Straton claimed that the handful of biblical texts "which may upon the surface seem to be contrary to the general teaching of scripture, must be interpreted in harmony with the whole, in accordance with the accepted principles of sound Biblical exegesis.
Schorsch's marshalling of sources is one of his account's most impressive features: biblical exegesis, responsa, and the halakic tradition that regulated relationships between Jews and their slaves, cemetery rosters, names of African slaves held by Jews, even Ladino songs.
While all of this biblical exegesis is interesting, as an artist and a Christian, I found myself constantly arguing with Dyrness.
At the core of the dissident biblical exegesis which has produced such disastrous results is a refusal to believe that the Gospels are eyewitness accounts.
The same essay has much to offer students of biblical exegesis, arguing cogently that Bede did not seek rigorous distinctions among the levels of scriptural meaning: "Terms normally considered technical have no definite or consistent meaning in Bede's exegesis" (IV, 151).