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explanation or critical interpretation of a text, esp of the Bible
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


(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.

The Religion Book: Places, Prophets, Saints, and Seers © 2004 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
All the traditional exegetes explained that Joseph did not attempt to hide the occupation of his brothers.
Not long after the publication of Histoire et Esprit, Brown questioned whether the study of patristic exegesis had any value for the modern exegete at all.
She concludes by saying that exegetical methods of the past that sacrificed the integrity of the original intention and context of the text are no longer an option, but biblical scholars need to emulate the great exegetes of the past by following the principle of charity, which she showed to be deeply rooted in both Judaism and Christianity, and to engage with the burning issues of today.
The exegete Ibn Kathir further points to the danger inherent in relaxing one's guard against potential dissension, thus allowing seditious elements to stir up enmity.
The foregoing exegesis of al-Tabari has been cited in detail because, although many of the later exegetes relied on his material without acknowledging the source, his influence is manifest in their work.
Perhaps the best way to give a sense of how exegete and philosopher work in fruitful tension is to give a summary of two of the chapters.
But there is more to this statement than the generally accepted idea of contextualization found even in poststructuralist theories that celebrate the indeterminacy of the sign.(6) Since part of my project is with the question of the referentiallty of the literary sign, I now wish to focus on this excess over contextualization; that is, Gates's description of the process by which exegetes wrestle with semantic indeterminacy.
The author might have also proposed the concept as an ethical, Islamic form of globalism of which today's exegete should be acutely aware.
His great modern French Catholic exegete, Charles Kannengiesser, dubs Athanasius "the most dynamic leader of 4th-century Egyptian Christianity." Most telling, though, is this tribute from Edward Gibbon, no friend to the faith: "A high-minded and prudent leader of genius, constantly assailed by the false accusations and ignoble machinations of dishonest and mean-spirited adversaries."
This essay is followed by one by Eli sabeth Schussler Fiorenza on the politics of interpretation, in which she underlines the exegete's responsibility for the practical effects of his/her work--what Stendahl two decades ago called "the public health aspect of interpretation." The new paradigm of "engaged scholarship" is able to see aspects of the text overlooked by what Schussler Fiorenza labels the "scientific malestream interpretation," so that when the two are used together the combination of ethical and cognitive criteria yields better results than either singly.
As a herald of the large-scale usage to come, the same year an anonymous 233-page commentary appeared that verifies the fulfilment of the first six seals of Revelation exclusively with The Decline and Fall.(33) An early and crucial role in this industry was played by the Scottish Evangelical Alexander Keith, a well-known prophetic exegete who joined the Free Church in the Disruption of 1843.
50, 76, 80, 104, 145, 188), but one is left to wonder what the exegete's specific encounter with the text has to contribute to his understanding of its meaning.