Is a theological term used to describe an approach to interpreting a passage in the Bible by critical analysis. Proper exegesis includes using the context around the passage, comparing it with other parts of the Bible, and applying an understanding of the language and customs and world view of the time of the writing, in an attempt to understand clearly what the original writer intended to convey to the original audience.
Exegesis, as indicated by its etymology (the study of the origin of words and the way in which their meanings have changed throughout history), is the act of critically interpreting a text in an attempt to “draw the meaning out“ of the text that is the meaning inherent within it. (This is in contrast to what has come to be know as eisegesis, where one reads his own meaning into the text.)
“Biblical exegesis” is the act of drawing the meaning out of a Biblical text. So, Biblical exegesis would cover all of the following sorts of inquiries and more:
- (Grammar:) Who is it that “wills” in 1 Corinthians 12:11?
- (Terminology:) What does “Under the Sun” mean in Ecclesiastes 1:14?
- (Referent Identification:) Who is the author of Hebrews quoting in Hebrews 10:38?
- (Literary Criticism:) What significance does John perceive in the piercing of Christ’s side and the flow of blood and water in John 19:34?
Exegetical preaching, then, deals with the verse-by-verse explanation of a text – drawing out of the text what the original author intended to convey to the original audience. Where upon that original message can then be expounded upon for correct application for his hearers today.
The relationship between hermeneutics and exegesis:
Basically the distinction boils down to this (as it pertains to the Bible):
- Hermeneutics is the field of study concerned with how we interpret the Bible.
- Exegesis is the actual interpretation of the Bible by drawing the meaning out of the Biblical text.
See also related “Topic Studies & Terms”:
For a more in-depth study see the related full “Study Series” (available upon request if not hyperlinked):