Saturday, September 7, 2013

Exegesis: Not For the Faint of Heart

Dear Reader,

 My friend Jerry and I have been conversing with a homosexual named Alex Haiken who mistakenly thinks himself to be a Christian. He constantly and consistently laces his e-mails, blog articles, and responses with error, misinformation, inferences, presumptions, assumptions, conclusions drawn on assumptions, pretext, front-loading, and eisegetical interpretations. Alex relies on the unscholarly works of such homosexual/homosexual supporting authors as John Boswell, Jack Rogers, and Dale Martin (to name a few). These men have absolutely no credibility whatsoever, and their works have been exposed to be filled with sloppy and dishonest scholarship, blatant plagiarism, copy errors, selective citations, truncated quotations of text, and creative editing. Alex continually fails to practice honest and responsible hermeneutics and exegesis, habitually ripping texts from their context and attempting to interpret them based on our day and age and what is or is not acceptable in and by our societies. Let us take a moment to educate Alex on the difference between exegesis and eisegesis.

The word "exegesis" comes from the Greek verb εξηγησις (from εξηγεισθαι "to lead out"), which means "to draw out." Simply put, exegesis is about drawing out from the text the true meaning of a biblical verse or passage. Exegesis, then, is an investigation. It attempts to determine the historical, cultural, and geographical context within which a particular verse exists. The questions we always have to be asking are: Who is doing the speaking? Who is being spoken to? What is being said? What is going on here? When observing the external context, proper exegesis examines the surrounding verses (immediate context), the surrounding chapters (sectional context), and other passages (canonical context). It lets the Bible speak for and interpret itself. Today's reader must try to enter the world of the biblical author and seek to understand what the author was saying. If we fail to pay attention to the world in which the Bible was written, we will simply read biblical texts and infuse them with meaning from our social world and circumstances. "The interpreter must come to the Bible as open as possible, without any theological bias or presuppositions."1 Exegesis utilizes "hermeneutics," which means "the art and science of biblical interpretation."

In contrast to this, what many do instead is what some theologians refer to as "front-loading;" i.e., they read their own personal, political, or ideological beliefs back into the Bible instead of reading out from the Bible what the original authors were saying. This process of reading one's own presuppositions, agendas, biases, and/or ideas into the interpretation of the Bible is called "eisegesis," from the Greek εις, which means "into." "It is the interpreter’s job to represent the text, "not the prejudices, feelings, judgments, or concerns of the exegete. To indulge in the latter is to engage in eisegesis, 'a reading into' a text what the reader wants it to say.""2 Eisegesis occurs when a reader imposes his/her interpretation into and onto the text. There is only ever one interpretation to a text; but there may be many applications to a text.

Personal experience does not interpret or determine what the Word of God says. Personal feelings and opinions do not interpret or determine what the Word of God says. Presumptions, inferences, assumptions, and conclusions drawn from assumptions do not interpret or determine what the Word of God says. Personal presuppositions, prejudices, agendas, biases, and/or ideas do not interpret or determine what the Word of God says. The practices and acceptances of our day and age do not interpret or determine what the Word of God says. All of this is to engage in eisegesis. Eisegesis is at best unwise, and at worst extremely dangerous.

Exegesis and eisegesis are conflicting approaches to interpreting the Bible. Why? Exegesis is reading out from the Bible what the original authors were saying. Eisegesis is reading into the Bible one's own ideas or prejudices. Exegesis is about drawing out the true meaning of a Bible passage. Eisegesis is about putting into the text something never intended by the author. Exegesis tends to be objective when employed effectively while eisegesis is regarded as highly subjective. The Bible gives us a clear example of exegesis: "They read from the book...translating to give the sense so that they understood the reading" (Neh. 8:8). Exegesis, however, is not an easy task and is not for the faint of heart. Like most things of value, it requires some work on our part.

Alex Haiken would do well to apply himself and to do some honest and in depth research, but the prerequisite to doing proper biblical study is the indwelling Holy Spirit. The spiritually dead are unable to discern spiritual truths because they do not have the Spirit. Alex struggles with the truth because he is not a regenerate born-again believer. Alex claims to be a Christian, embracing his homosexual sin, but has neglected to actually get saved. He fails to realize that salvation calls for repentance. He is among those who call on Jesus' name but continue to work deeds of lawlessness (Matt. 7:21-23). 1 John 3:4-10 informs us that anyone who embraces their sin and makes a habitual practice thereof is not a Christian and does not belong to God. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Galatians 5:19-21; and Ephesians 5:5 let us know that homosexuals will not inherit the kingdom of God. I keep telling Alex that today is the day of salvation and that he had better repent or he will likewise perish. Everybody please pray for the salvation of Alex's soul. Thank you!

1 Mal Couch, An Introduction to Classical Evangelical Hermeneutics, 169.
2 Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., Toward an Exegetical Theology, 45.