Our own thoughts and thought processes constantly bombard us daily. Information from a long list of sources also bombards us. This bombardment can cause internal and external confusion and stress. So, people take that incoming information and filter it through their own life experiences, thoughts, and ideas. This process leads to people interpreting the text in a way that goes along with that person’s assumptions, agendas, and preconceptions. This bias is true for any human, but one must avoid it when studying Biblical Scripture. So, let’s look at Exegesis Verses Eisegesis and Why It Matters.
First, Let's Look at a Couple of Definitions
According to Merriam-Webster, it is an explanation or critical interpretation of a text [especially Scripture].
According to the Webster (1976), New Collegiate Dictionary (8th ed.), it is the process of interpreting the text in such a way as to introduce one’s own presuppositions, agendas, or biases. We commonly refer to this as reading into the text.
Exegesis Verses Eisegesis and Why It Matters
We use exegesis when reading Scripture to understand what God wrote through the various scribes of Scripture. Proper understanding requires leaving all your preconceived notions and biases behind you and focusing on what the Scripture says, in context, and as the original readers would have interpreted it. So, as we read these 2000 to 3500-year-old documents, we must understand them in context and have a general historical understanding of the culture at the time of the original manuscript. Exegesis is not easy, but it is paramount if you want to know and understand what God shares in Scripture.
Eisegesis is comparatively easy, and everyone has used eisegesis at some point. Eisegesis interprets Scripture using your own or another person’s presuppositions, agendas, or biases. In other words, you read into the text. For example, if the current culture says fornication is okay, you interpret the Bible out of context and in such a way as to agree with the current cultural bias. God says you don’t fornicate, so you are abandoning the truth and accepting current cultural philosophies by interpreting the Scripture in a way contradictory to the truth.
Why it Matters
I could give numerous examples of eisegesis, but the truth is that you cannot interpret Bible text using eisegesis. You cannot because if you do, it becomes your thoughts and ideas overriding God’s thoughts and ideas. In other words, you become your own god pressing forward your own agenda. You cannot let this happen. God’s knowledge and intellect are, and will always be, vastly superior to ours. We must keep that in mind when reading and interpreting Scripture. We must become a student of history and culture so we at least roughly know how the people of that era thought. We need to understand their culture at the time the text was written. Then we have to read and interpret the text in context, without preconceptions and modern cultural bias. The proper method of interpreting Biblical Scripture will always be Biblical exegesis. I hope this helps you understand the profound need to understand Exegesis Verses Eisegesis and Why It Matters.