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What Is Exegesis?

Exegesis determines valid meaning from texts, particularly ancient texts.

The Bible calls it "correctly handling the word of Truth" [2 Timothy 2:15], and it is implicit in the idea of "entrusting these things to people competent to teach them" [2 Timothy 2:2].

Exegesis is not necessary if one hears from The Holy Spirit. But what happens if two, contradictory positions both claim The Holy Spirit as their sources? Exegesis is the only objective arbiter in the face of such competing claims.

Exegesis is a technical process. Its methods cannot be intuited; the reason Exegesis exists in the first place is due to knowledge gaps which intuition cannot bridge, e.g., of language, culture, history, convention, ethics, and epistemology.


Biblical Exegesis is constituted of multiple disciplines, including Ancient Hebrew, Old Aramaic, Hellenistic Greek, Linguistics, Literary Criticism, Textual Criticism, Ancient Near Eastern Anthropology, and Greco-Roman Anthropology. Original-language biblical exegesis does not rely on commentaries or dogma. It actively avoids outside opinion on biblical texts until the texts have been analyzed without prejudice. 

Exegesis deals in probabilities. It analyzes all available context, then concludes probability of original intent. Christian exegetes employ these exegetical methods concomitant with prayer and attention to the leading of The Spirit.

The opposite of exegesis is eisegesis, which invalidly puts into the text meaning which was not intended by the author. This may be committed unintentionally or intentionally. A few examples of eisegesis are falling prey to exegetical fallacies, shoehorning presupposed dogma into the text, and outright fabrication (making things up). Eisegesis is, unfortunately, quite common. 

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