Exegesis versus Eisegesis

“The antonym for Exegesis is Eisegesis (eye-si JEE-sis): it means reading into a text something that simply is not there. Usually expresses the interpreters own opinions, bias, etc., rather than the true meaning of what the author had intended.”

I was in a Bible study once when we were talking about women’s roles. We discussed the place women had in church and one man raised his voice and said that we were looking to the Bible to support things that weren’t there. He was a part of an extremely conservative Orthodox church. And he was not happy.

I am trying carefully to not practice Eisegesis. But I think everyone does to some extent. I love the Bible. The more I learn about God the more refreshed I feel.

“In Jewish writings water is a very rich symbol (cf. Goppelt 1972:318-22). God himself can be called “the spring of living water” (Jer 2:13; 17:13).”

“”O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water” (Ps 63:1). The sons of Korah sang, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” (Ps 42:1-2).” (both from Bible Gateway.) The Bible is like cool water. And I wonder how available cool water was at the time the Bible was written.

Things this the potential to offend others with what I believe:

Child rearing
Women’s roles
Spiritual Gifts (including prophecy, tongues and others)
All sorts of mental or brain disorders

I’m willing to change my mind but I think that many reasons people disagree is because they haven’t examined the Bible. Rather they have learned these things from either marginally reliable teachers or whack jobs (Bill Gothard, anyone? Mrs and Mrs Pearl? Ezzo?” I want to be fair and say that some of these teachers got something right…. but not enough for me to consider myself their disciples.

I feel strongly about the things I believe in, but we preoccupy ourselves with them. All of these issues, I believe, are secondary to the most important work: sharing the Gospel. I once adhered to the lifestyle of salvation. My life would rub off on others and they would find the Lord through an absolutely wonderful me. What pride! What arrogance!

One thing that changed my mind was one of my last visits of the first, very beloved therapist. I spoke to her about God, but not so much that she wanted me to head back to the hospital. (“Preoccupations with religious pursuits” is one of the symptoms of many mental illnesses). I didn’t witness all that much, but I did talk about what God meant to me. I asked, if it wasn’t too personal, if her if her views about God changed because of me.

She answered, “No, not really. I mean, maybe subconsciously.”

It hurt. I wanted to change things. She really cared for me, I know that she did, but God did not choose to use me in this way.

I wonder if being more explicit in my testimony would have helped.


One response to “Exegesis versus Eisegesis

  • Sam

    You got me thinking when you said this…” I once adhered to the lifestyle of salvation. My life would rub off on others and they would find the Lord through an absolutely wonderful me. What pride! What arrogance!” Right now, there are people I witness too, but I’m afraid I may be too complacent about it. In the NT, I don’t see the apostles saying that people will come to Jesus because they see their lives only. But really its thru the proclamation of the good news of God’s rescue of us. It is not us who are so good, but God. And I think the messenger often gets in the way if he things he is more important than the message. Thanks for clarifying my thoughts on this.

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