Use ‘exegesis’ to interpret the Bible. Exegesis is where we draw out of the text what it is actually saying, using the original historical context, regardless of what we believe. Sometimes familiar stories are quite different than what we remember if read this way. After examining a Biblical passage using exegesis we may need to examine our other beliefs. Exegesis began with scholars studying the Bible and is now used in a variety of settings including art, film and literature. Exegesis is highly objective.
Many people use the exact opposite technique called ‘eisegesis’. Eisegesis is reading into a text the meaning we want it to have, ignoring the original historical context and using a text to confirm our biases and predispositions. We can use eisegesis to prove anything we want to in a Biblical text. Eisegesis is highly subjective.
An example of the difference between these two techniques is contained in the phrase “Do we let our politics shape our understanding of the Bible (Eisegesis)?” or “do we let our understanding of the Bible shape our politics (Exegesis)?”
Exegesis and eisegesis are mutually exclusive. They are not two ends on a continuum but two distinct ways of thinking, even if we are not aware of it. It may be best to learn exegesis during a specific course of study at a university or from someone who knows the differences between the two.Continue reading “How to interpret the Bible”