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Eisegesis

My word of the day is eisegesis – new to me although I am very familiar with its opposite, exegesis.

Both refer to ways of handling the Bible although they could be taken to other texts as well. Exegesis is the process of drawing out the meaning of a passage by examining what it says and applying understanding what implications it is likely to have had in its original context.

Eisegesis means reading your own values and expectations into a passage. In the context of biblical studies, it means treating the Bible as a puppet – its face but, in truth, your words. When I heard it, at first I assumed the term was just a preacher’s pun: ‘I-segesis’ or making the Bible support what ‘I’ want to say.

I love having another technical term in my vocabulary but it will also be useful. When I am digging into the Bible, perhaps preparing to teach others, I can ask myself if I am looking around for ammunition (eisegesis) to defend an opinion or approaching it in order to learn and be changed (exegesis).

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