Exegesis is the interpretation of a Biblical text, to explore its meaning, significance and relevance. Most exegesis questions should be asked at the Biblical Hermeneutics site; exegesis questions on this site need to specify a perspective and explain why an answer from that perspective is needed.
Exegesis is the discipline of interpreting biblical texts to find their meanings, significance, and relevance.
There are various approaches to exegesis, some of which are common to particular religious traditions. The principal tools include:
- history: understanding the cultural, social and geographic context for the text
- linguistics: understanding the meanings of the words present in the text, particularly in their original languages
- context: understanding where the text stands in the Bible, and what light other biblical texts can give
- literary analysis: understanding what the genre and style of the passage is (e.g. prophecy, poetry, history, parable, apocalypse, letter)
- tradition: understanding how the church has interpreted the text through the ages
- reason: using one's rational capacity to interpret the spiritual meaning of a text
Frequently, Christians will advocate starting exegesis with prayer. This particularly demonstrates their respect for the Bible as divinely inspired and their belief that understanding the Scriptures requires the aid and support of the Holy Spirit.
Interpreting the Bible is ultimately a circular task, with our interpretations being influenced by our beliefs. The goal for exegesis is however to try to hear the text speak and learn what it means, which will result in our beliefs being challenged. To only read in a text what we want it to say is "eisegesis" - reading into the passage, rather than "exegesis" - out of the passage. (Eis and ex come from the Greek for "into" and "out of".)