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apothanein kerdos
Jul 1st 2008, 04:09 PM
The following is an article from my website. The web address has been purposefully left off in order to protect my privacy (as it has my name, location, and things of that nature on my website, I post here with the intention to remain anonymous). Please enjoy.

Often in the church, lay people will hear these two words and simply raise an eyebrow about what is meant. After all, they do not have the luxury of attending seminaries that teach these confusing concepts. These concepts, however, dictate how we read the Bible and apply it. The church has done a disservice to people by not teaching them the meaning of these concepts or how to apply these concepts in their daily reading of scripture. Though I cannot fix this with one post, I do want to, hopefully, set us back on the right path. Before this can be done, we must understand what each word means.

Exegesis is the application within interpretation that “provides sound reasons for the choices it makes and positions it adopts.”(1) In short, exegesis explains a portion of the Bible by appealing to the historical, authorial, cultural, linguistic, immediate, and overall context of the passage.

Eisegesis is reading one’s preconceived notions, biases, and understandings into the text. We all bring biases to the text, but eisegesis is when we allow these biases to dictate how we read the text. If we assume, before reading scripture, that Jesus is not God, whenever we come across a passage that indicates Jesus is God, we will do what we can to twist the passage into saying what we want it to say.

The Problem of Presuppositions

The problem between the two is the difficulty in determining which path we are taking when interpreting and applying a passage of scripture. Even after we have looked at all the contexts, we can still read our own notion into the scripture and twist the contexts to make it appear as if we are justified. How, then, do we eliminate this?

We must understand that, no matter how hard we try, at times we will read our own understanding into the text. We all bring baggage to our interpretation and application, thus we will inevitably read our own experience into an interpretation. For instance, a person from a Western background is going to have a difficult time agreeing with a person from an Eastern background on certain portions of scripture. The reason is we come from completely different cultures that will understand certain concepts and idioms in a different manner. No matter how hard we try, our background will find its way into our interpretation in some cases.

There are two main approaches to dealing with the problem of presuppositions (though there are more, I want to focus on the two major approaches):

1) Embrace and accept the “reader-response criticism” – this criticism ignores authorial intent and abandons exegesis as “impersonal” and “scientific” and instead relies on the response from the reader to find truth. The reader, not the author, determines what the passage means for the reader. If want John 3:16 to be metaphorical, so long as this appeases my bias, I am justified. The Bible becomes a work of art rather than an absolute guide. This leads to the deconstruction approach of Jacques Derrida. This view, similar to what is stated above, teaches that all texts are eventually inconsistent and will “deconstruct” (undermine) it. It embraces contradictions and allows for the personal application and interpretation to the reader, instead of a universal understanding.

Many in the post-modern movement have accepted a form of this interpretation. This is best demonstrated in Emergent writer Peter Rollins when he states, “The text [Bible] is not only full of fractures, tensions and contradictions but informs us that fractures, tensions and contradictions are all we can hope for.”(2) Thus, according to Rollins, the Bible is nothing more than a text full of contradictions that is then left open for the reader to decide what is applicable to him and what is not. This, in McLaren’s view (who accepts the reader-response criticism) should lead to “…a Bible study or sermon that is successful not because everyone agrees on the preacher’s interpretation, but because, when the sermon is over, everyone can’t wait to talk about and read and ponder and discuss it more…”(3) Though inconspicuous, this is a Derrida-like approach to interpretation, as the co-author adequately points out later in the chapter.(4) In other words, the pastor or teacher should not teach universal truth from the Bible, but instead encourage the imagination of the audience so that people will explore the scriptures for themselves and gain their own understanding.

The problem with this view is that it allows for any justified reading of scripture. Though this method is useful in discovering tensions in the text, if we leave our reading at the tensions we lose a comprehensive approach to the Bible. If we each understand the Bible differently, and accept this difference, who is to say we can approach the world through one mind or one spirit as the Bible commands us to (Romans 12:16, Philippians 2:2)?

Though it might seem fanciful and radical to use such an interpretation method, it ultimately contradicts the reality of human existence. No one holds a conversation with another person using this method. Whenever we are in a conversation, whether subconsciously or consciously, we are trying to discover what the other person means. If my boss tells me to write a ten page report on the company’s income, I do not try to discover what this means to me; instead, I try to discover what my boss meant and how I should apply his intention to my action. If a husband tells his wife that he loves her, the wife does not try to dictate what “love” means to her, but tries to understand what her husband means by “love.” This is our approach to everyday conversation – why, then, is it not our approach to scripture?

2) Use the contexts of the passage to challenge our presuppositions – though we can admit that we will all approach scripture with presuppositions, we choose not to simply leave it at this. We use the different contexts of the passage to see what the author was trying to say, what he intended, and what application we can bring out of the passage. One approaches scripture with the idea that there is an intended universal meaning of the text and that we can know this meaning. Though we acknowledge our limits, we also realize that the Holy Spirit helps us in our interpretation of scripture.

Exegesis would then seek to test our presuppositions when approaching a passage by discovering the truth in that passage. It assumes that, despite our fallacies, we can “…arrive at the meaning of the text that the biblical writers or editors intended their readers to understand.”(5) This is done by looking at the various Biblical genres, history behind the text, other related passages, the immediate context of the text, the language (Greek, Hebrew, or Aramaic) it was composed in, the intended audience, and various other tests. It allows for the negation of our presuppositions in approaching a text.

An Example

A good example of eisegesis in a popular understanding is Revelation 3:15-16. This famous text speaks of how the church at Laodecia was neither hot nor cold for the Lord, but instead was lukewarm, and therefore was about to be spit out by the Lord. Many pastors and laypeople have taught that Christ is saying, “I’d rather you be on fire for me (hot) or completely against me (cold) than to be caught in between (lukewarm).” This has been a popular understanding and accepted interpretation. However, it is one of the best examples of eisegesis.

The first error in reading this passage is many people will read it prima facie. This is a Latin term which means “at face value” or more literal “at first glance.” In interpretation, it refers to our initial perception of a text. When people read this passage in Revelation, their initial reaction, based on their pre-understanding, is that “hot” and “cold” must refer to being on fire for Christ, or being against Christ. This is because in our culture we have used these words for such idioms. To be “cold” to something means to be disinterested or even against that thing. We think of the “cold shoulder,” or “cold speech,” or other similar idioms and figures of speech. We then take this pre-understanding and apply it to the reading in this passage.

The second error is ignoring the historical context of the passage. Laodicea is not a concept or a mythical church; it is a real church that existed in a real city. Notice in the passage how they are attacked for being affluent and are called poor, naked, and blind. This makes little sense until we look at the historical city of Laodicea. Laodicea was a very affluent city because of its famous textile industry. Likewise, it held a famous medical clinic that would develop an oily substance to help with the eyes. Thus, Jesus uses these three things in developing imagery for them and explains how, though they have gained these things physically, they are poor, naked, and blind spiritually.

Taking this further, we know that Laodicea lacked cool water. Instead, they had to use an Aqueduct to pipe in water from a neighboring city (Colosse). By the time the water got to Laodicea, it was lukewarm and therefore had many parasites. The people would have to boil their water before drinking it, otherwise they would get sick. Thus, cold water was viewed as refreshing and drinkable, while hot water was viewed as purifying. When we look at the historical context, we see that Christ is saying that Laodicea is neither hot nor cold, but instead lukewarm. What He means by this is that the church in Laodicea is neither refreshing to the general populace (via servant hood, helping the poor, etc) or purifying to the general populace (via sharing the Gospel). He wishes they would at least be one of them, but they are neither, they are indifferent to both. All they care about is amassing wealth and because of this, Jesus says they are a parasite and a disease. He draws an illustration to what would occur when someone drank the lukewarm water – they got sick and would throw up violently. Thus, Christ is saying the church in Laodicea makes Him sick.

The final error committed is ignoring the broader context of the Bible. The popular interpretation of the passage is that hot means we’re on fire for God and cold means we’re against God. Jesus says in the passage, “I wish that you were cold or hot.” Many pastors have gone on to say this means Jesus wishes you were either on fire for Jesus, or completely against Jesus, rather than being lukewarm. Is this something, though, that is present in the rest of the Bible? Is Jesus really saying that He’d rather us live in sin than to be lukewarm? This, it appears, would contradict 1 John 1:9-10, which states we will always sin and that we lie if we say we have no sin. In other words, the popular idea would contradict the broader context of scripture.

Application

This, of course, is just an example of how eisegesis can cause us to lose out on the greater meaning of a passage. Eisegesis generally occurs in the application of a passage, but also occurs when trying to discover the theology within a passage as well. As shown in this essay, the way to deal with the theology of a passage in interpretation is to look at the various contexts and challenge our presuppositions. I would add that we should never rely on our prima facie reading of a text to justify our interpretation. Anytime someone interprets the Bible and says, “Well it says plainly” or “it’s obvious from just reading,” a red flag should go up. Though there are passages that appear obvious, we should never take this obvious nature for granted. We should always explore what the text means, this way we can try our hardest to avoid eisegesis.

In application of a passage, there are certain rules that should be followed so we do not misapply a passage of scripture: (6)

1) Determine what the intended application was to the original audience – discovering what the author originally intended can often give a better understanding of how the passage can be applied to today.

2) Evaluate how specific the intended application was – is the command so specific to that time frame that the application cannot be carried out today? Abraham was told to sacrifice his son Isaac – does this mean that I should do the same thing?

3) Is the command timeless or is it limited by different cultures – there are certain principles that cross the cultural bounds (such as God is sovereign), but others that are limited to the culture (such as greeting each other with a holy kiss).

4) Find an appropriate application that will resemble the broader principle – as above, when a text can no longer be applied in its literal meaning (such as a holy kiss), we should still apply the principle. The principle behind greeting each other a holy kiss is to give a physical manifestation of openness. In our American culture, this can be accomplished by a hug or a handshake. Thus, even when the literal application of the intended audience is no longer culturally applicable, we should still seek out the broader principle presented.

Conclusion

It is easy for people to want to accept their initial reading of scripture as “guided by the Holy Spirit.” The reason is humans are naturally lazy and will seek out the easiest explanation for anything. It is difficult to discover the original meaning of a text and can take days to cover just two verses in scripture. Difficulty, however, does not mean we should avoid the practice. We should never accept our first instinct when reading a passage, but instead should seek out the proper context. Eisegesis will always lead to a misunderstanding of a passage and cause us to miss out on the true meaning – we should always seek a proper exegetical approach to the scriptures.





(1) Carson, D.A. Exegetical Fallacies. (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1996), 16.

(2) Rollins, Peter. How (Not) to Speak of God. (Brewster: Paraclete Press, 2005), 13.

(3) McLaren, Brian and Campolo, Tony. Adventures in Missing the Point: How a Culture-Controlled Church Neutered the Gospel. (Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 2003), 78

(4) Ibid. 83

(5) William Klien, Blomberg, Craig, and Hubbard, Rober Jr, Introduction to Biblical Interpretation (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2004), 153.

(6) This is a summarized version from concepts taken from Introduction to Biblical Interpretation. 482-503

RabbiKnife
Jul 1st 2008, 05:12 PM
Very nice.

Very nice.

Very nice.

apothanein kerdos
Jul 1st 2008, 07:02 PM
Thank you very much.

daughter
Jul 1st 2008, 07:31 PM
As Rabbiknife said... very nice! I don't have time to really do justice to it, because I have to get off line now... but this was very clear and coherent.

I've been guilty of "eis" thinking throughout most of my life... Still am probably. But thank God He takes us out of our first person singular into Himself.

John146
Jul 1st 2008, 08:34 PM
Good post. I try to exegete rather than eisegete scripture as much as I can, but I have to admit I'm guilty of eisegeting Revelation 3:15-16 the same way as many have. But your explanation makes a lot of sense and I agree with it. My ignorance regarding first century Laodicean history and culture did me in on that one.

It occurs to me now that the popular way of interpreting hot, cold and lukewarm would mean that the description of Laodicea in Rev 3:17, which says, "thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked", indicates that they were spiritually cold rather than spiritually lukewarm. So, I can see now how the more popular view of that passage does not make sense and He was actually making an analogy of their spritual condition to lukewarm water, which contained bacteria.

apothanein kerdos
Jul 1st 2008, 08:38 PM
Well even more, Laodicea was famous for being a place of (1) textile industry, (2) massive amounts of wealth and (3) a eye balm that healed eye conditions. Thus, it is no accident that Jesus accuses them of being "blind, naked, and poor."

More on topic, it isn't uncommon of reading our own understandings and cultural thinking into Scripture. The purpose of the method I provided was so that we could do our best to remove ourselves from the interpretation (such as "cold" = bad in our way of thinking, which is an idiom for Americans)...but we must realize that this is simply an impossibility in all circumstances. At some point, we'll read our own understanding into some passages, but we want to do our best to avoid it and correct it when it happens.

Friend of I AM
Jul 1st 2008, 08:58 PM
The following is an article from my website. The web address has been purposefully left off in order to protect my privacy (as it has my name, location, and things of that nature on my website, I post here with the intention to remain anonymous). Please enjoy.

Often in the church, lay people will hear these two words and simply raise an eyebrow about what is meant. After all, they do not have the luxury of attending seminaries that teach these confusing concepts. These concepts, however, dictate how we read the Bible and apply it. The church has done a disservice to people by not teaching them the meaning of these concepts or how to apply these concepts in their daily reading of scripture. Though I cannot fix this with one post, I do want to, hopefully, set us back on the right path. Before this can be done, we must understand what each word means.

Exegesis is the application within interpretation that “provides sound reasons for the choices it makes and positions it adopts.”(1) In short, exegesis explains a portion of the Bible by appealing to the historical, authorial, cultural, linguistic, immediate, and overall context of the passage.

Eisegesis is reading one’s preconceived notions, biases, and understandings into the text. We all bring biases to the text, but eisegesis is when we allow these biases to dictate how we read the text. If we assume, before reading scripture, that Jesus is not God, whenever we come across a passage that indicates Jesus is God, we will do what we can to twist the passage into saying what we want it to say.

The Problem of Presuppositions

The problem between the two is the difficulty in determining which path we are taking when interpreting and applying a passage of scripture. Even after we have looked at all the contexts, we can still read our own notion into the scripture and twist the contexts to make it appear as if we are justified. How, then, do we eliminate this?

We must understand that, no matter how hard we try, at times we will read our own understanding into the text. We all bring baggage to our interpretation and application, thus we will inevitably read our own experience into an interpretation. For instance, a person from a Western background is going to have a difficult time agreeing with a person from an Eastern background on certain portions of scripture. The reason is we come from completely different cultures that will understand certain concepts and idioms in a different manner. No matter how hard we try, our background will find its way into our interpretation in some cases.

There are two main approaches to dealing with the problem of presuppositions (though there are more, I want to focus on the two major approaches):

1) Embrace and accept the “reader-response criticism” – this criticism ignores authorial intent and abandons exegesis as “impersonal” and “scientific” and instead relies on the response from the reader to find truth. The reader, not the author, determines what the passage means for the reader. If want John 3:16 to be metaphorical, so long as this appeases my bias, I am justified. The Bible becomes a work of art rather than an absolute guide. This leads to the deconstruction approach of Jacques Derrida. This view, similar to what is stated above, teaches that all texts are eventually inconsistent and will “deconstruct” (undermine) it. It embraces contradictions and allows for the personal application and interpretation to the reader, instead of a universal understanding.

Many in the post-modern movement have accepted a form of this interpretation. This is best demonstrated in Emergent writer Peter Rollins when he states, “The text [Bible] is not only full of fractures, tensions and contradictions but informs us that fractures, tensions and contradictions are all we can hope for.”(2) Thus, according to Rollins, the Bible is nothing more than a text full of contradictions that is then left open for the reader to decide what is applicable to him and what is not. This, in McLaren’s view (who accepts the reader-response criticism) should lead to “…a Bible study or sermon that is successful not because everyone agrees on the preacher’s interpretation, but because, when the sermon is over, everyone can’t wait to talk about and read and ponder and discuss it more…”(3) Though inconspicuous, this is a Derrida-like approach to interpretation, as the co-author adequately points out later in the chapter.(4) In other words, the pastor or teacher should not teach universal truth from the Bible, but instead encourage the imagination of the audience so that people will explore the scriptures for themselves and gain their own understanding.

The problem with this view is that it allows for any justified reading of scripture. Though this method is useful in discovering tensions in the text, if we leave our reading at the tensions we lose a comprehensive approach to the Bible. If we each understand the Bible differently, and accept this difference, who is to say we can approach the world through one mind or one spirit as the Bible commands us to (Romans 12:16, Philippians 2:2)?

Though it might seem fanciful and radical to use such an interpretation method, it ultimately contradicts the reality of human existence. No one holds a conversation with another person using this method. Whenever we are in a conversation, whether subconsciously or consciously, we are trying to discover what the other person means. If my boss tells me to write a ten page report on the company’s income, I do not try to discover what this means to me; instead, I try to discover what my boss meant and how I should apply his intention to my action. If a husband tells his wife that he loves her, the wife does not try to dictate what “love” means to her, but tries to understand what her husband means by “love.” This is our approach to everyday conversation – why, then, is it not our approach to scripture?

2) Use the contexts of the passage to challenge our presuppositions – though we can admit that we will all approach scripture with presuppositions, we choose not to simply leave it at this. We use the different contexts of the passage to see what the author was trying to say, what he intended, and what application we can bring out of the passage. One approaches scripture with the idea that there is an intended universal meaning of the text and that we can know this meaning. Though we acknowledge our limits, we also realize that the Holy Spirit helps us in our interpretation of scripture.

Exegesis would then seek to test our presuppositions when approaching a passage by discovering the truth in that passage. It assumes that, despite our fallacies, we can “…arrive at the meaning of the text that the biblical writers or editors intended their readers to understand.”(5) This is done by looking at the various Biblical genres, history behind the text, other related passages, the immediate context of the text, the language (Greek, Hebrew, or Aramaic) it was composed in, the intended audience, and various other tests. It allows for the negation of our presuppositions in approaching a text.

An Example

A good example of eisegesis in a popular understanding is Revelation 3:15-16. This famous text speaks of how the church at Laodecia was neither hot nor cold for the Lord, but instead was lukewarm, and therefore was about to be spit out by the Lord. Many pastors and laypeople have taught that Christ is saying, “I’d rather you be on fire for me (hot) or completely against me (cold) than to be caught in between (lukewarm).” This has been a popular understanding and accepted interpretation. However, it is one of the best examples of eisegesis.

The first error in reading this passage is many people will read it prima facie. This is a Latin term which means “at face value” or more literal “at first glance.” In interpretation, it refers to our initial perception of a text. When people read this passage in Revelation, their initial reaction, based on their pre-understanding, is that “hot” and “cold” must refer to being on fire for Christ, or being against Christ. This is because in our culture we have used these words for such idioms. To be “cold” to something means to be disinterested or even against that thing. We think of the “cold shoulder,” or “cold speech,” or other similar idioms and figures of speech. We then take this pre-understanding and apply it to the reading in this passage.

The second error is ignoring the historical context of the passage. Laodicea is not a concept or a mythical church; it is a real church that existed in a real city. Notice in the passage how they are attacked for being affluent and are called poor, naked, and blind. This makes little sense until we look at the historical city of Laodicea. Laodicea was a very affluent city because of its famous textile industry. Likewise, it held a famous medical clinic that would develop an oily substance to help with the eyes. Thus, Jesus uses these three things in developing imagery for them and explains how, though they have gained these things physically, they are poor, naked, and blind spiritually.

Taking this further, we know that Laodicea lacked cool water. Instead, they had to use an Aqueduct to pipe in water from a neighboring city (Colosse). By the time the water got to Laodicea, it was lukewarm and therefore had many parasites. The people would have to boil their water before drinking it, otherwise they would get sick. Thus, cold water was viewed as refreshing and drinkable, while hot water was viewed as purifying. When we look at the historical context, we see that Christ is saying that Laodicea is neither hot nor cold, but instead lukewarm. What He means by this is that the church in Laodicea is neither refreshing to the general populace (via servant hood, helping the poor, etc) or purifying to the general populace (via sharing the Gospel). He wishes they would at least be one of them, but they are neither, they are indifferent to both. All they care about is amassing wealth and because of this, Jesus says they are a parasite and a disease. He draws an illustration to what would occur when someone drank the lukewarm water – they got sick and would throw up violently. Thus, Christ is saying the church in Laodicea makes Him sick.

The final error committed is ignoring the broader context of the Bible. The popular interpretation of the passage is that hot means we’re on fire for God and cold means we’re against God. Jesus says in the passage, “I wish that you were cold or hot.” Many pastors have gone on to say this means Jesus wishes you were either on fire for Jesus, or completely against Jesus, rather than being lukewarm. Is this something, though, that is present in the rest of the Bible? Is Jesus really saying that He’d rather us live in sin than to be lukewarm? This, it appears, would contradict 1 John 1:9-10, which states we will always sin and that we lie if we say we have no sin. In other words, the popular idea would contradict the broader context of scripture.

Application

This, of course, is just an example of how eisegesis can cause us to lose out on the greater meaning of a passage. Eisegesis generally occurs in the application of a passage, but also occurs when trying to discover the theology within a passage as well. As shown in this essay, the way to deal with the theology of a passage in interpretation is to look at the various contexts and challenge our presuppositions. I would add that we should never rely on our prima facie reading of a text to justify our interpretation. Anytime someone interprets the Bible and says, “Well it says plainly” or “it’s obvious from just reading,” a red flag should go up. Though there are passages that appear obvious, we should never take this obvious nature for granted. We should always explore what the text means, this way we can try our hardest to avoid eisegesis.

In application of a passage, there are certain rules that should be followed so we do not misapply a passage of scripture: (6)

1) Determine what the intended application was to the original audience – discovering what the author originally intended can often give a better understanding of how the passage can be applied to today.

2) Evaluate how specific the intended application was – is the command so specific to that time frame that the application cannot be carried out today? Abraham was told to sacrifice his son Isaac – does this mean that I should do the same thing?

3) Is the command timeless or is it limited by different cultures – there are certain principles that cross the cultural bounds (such as God is sovereign), but others that are limited to the culture (such as greeting each other with a holy kiss).

4) Find an appropriate application that will resemble the broader principle – as above, when a text can no longer be applied in its literal meaning (such as a holy kiss), we should still apply the principle. The principle behind greeting each other a holy kiss is to give a physical manifestation of openness. In our American culture, this can be accomplished by a hug or a handshake. Thus, even when the literal application of the intended audience is no longer culturally applicable, we should still seek out the broader principle presented.

Conclusion

It is easy for people to want to accept their initial reading of scripture as “guided by the Holy Spirit.” The reason is humans are naturally lazy and will seek out the easiest explanation for anything. It is difficult to discover the original meaning of a text and can take days to cover just two verses in scripture. Difficulty, however, does not mean we should avoid the practice. We should never accept our first instinct when reading a passage, but instead should seek out the proper context. Eisegesis will always lead to a misunderstanding of a passage and cause us to miss out on the true meaning – we should always seek a proper exegetical approach to the scriptures.





(1) Carson, D.A. Exegetical Fallacies. (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1996), 16.

(2) Rollins, Peter. How (Not) to Speak of God. (Brewster: Paraclete Press, 2005), 13.

(3) McLaren, Brian and Campolo, Tony. Adventures in Missing the Point: How a Culture-Controlled Church Neutered the Gospel. (Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 2003), 78

(4) Ibid. 83

(5) William Klien, Blomberg, Craig, and Hubbard, Rober Jr, Introduction to Biblical Interpretation (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2004), 153.

(6) This is a summarized version from concepts taken from Introduction to Biblical Interpretation. 482-503

Thanks for the post and the explanation of the terms. Although I respect your position, and I agree with you that it is important to obtain knowledge of some of the history behind the scriptures, one still needs to be careful that they don't overcomplicate some of the simpler meanings of various passages.

Remember "the simplicity of Christ" is something that Paul spoke about, and how we don't want to get ourselves confused when trying to interpret the word, mixing it with a lot of worldly terms and doctrines. Our devotion to Christ in our walk is very important, and I do agree with most of the modern interpretations of Rev 3:15-16. I don't think that God ideally wants us to be dual minded in our walks(though he extends his mercy to even those who are dual minded) as this is something that generally he speaks much against within his Word. For example, I don't think Jesus is stating he wants individuals to be sinners in the Rev verses you've posted above, what I do think though is that he wants us to be of a clear mind when following him - thus this is why I think he states that he "disciplines those he loves" in Rev 3.

Don't get me wrong, what you've said has much merit to it - as God is a God of knowledge and not oversimplicity. Studying from a historical perspective can only get us so far in discernment of God's word though. And we don't want to put more into the Word than what's listed in it, or perhaps the better term is we need to be careful that we don't mix our opinions/worldly terminologies with God's word(or specifically let everyone know that when we speak, we are giving our opinion of something referenced in the Word, and that it is not the final verdict on what God's position is)

Thanks again for the post though. And keep studying.

apothanein kerdos
Jul 1st 2008, 09:03 PM
[quote]Remember "the simplicity of Christ" is something that Paul spoke about, and how we don't want to get ourselves confused when trying to interpret the word, mixing it with a lot of worldly terms and doctrines. Our devotions to Christ in our walk is very important, and I do agree with most of the modern interpretations of Rev 3:15-16. I don't think that God ideally wants us to be dual minded in our walks(though he extends his mercy to even those who are dual minded) as this is something that generally he speaks much against within his Word. I don't think Jesus is stating he wants individuals to be sinners in the verse above, what I do think though is that he wants us to be of a clear mind when following him - thus this is why I think he states that he "disciplines those he loves" in Rev 3.

Don't get me wrong, what you've said has much merit to it - as God is a God of knowledge and not oversimplicity. Studying from a historical perspective can only get us so far in discernment of God's word though. And we don't want to put more into the Word than what's listed in it, or perhaps the better term is we need to be careful that we don't mix our opinions/worldly terminologies with God's word(or specifically let everyone know that when we speak, we are giving our opinion of something referenced in the Word, and that it is not the final verdict on what God's position is)[quote]

It is possible to overcomplicate things, but I don't think we should ever think of the message of the Bible as simple. Even Peter admitted to having difficulty to understanding Paul and that "unlearned men" misinterpreted Paul as they do with the rest of Scripture (2 Peter 3:16).

Thus, we are left with a paradox. The Gospel message is easy to understand, so easy a child can understand it. Yet, it is written in a way that is so vastly complex that we will never comprehend it or understand it totally. The Gospel can be understood by all, but comprehended by none.

Friend of I AM
Jul 1st 2008, 09:15 PM
It is possible to overcomplicate things, but I don't think we should ever think of the message of the Bible as simple. Even Peter admitted to having difficulty to understanding Paul and that "unlearned men" misinterpreted Paul as they do with the rest of Scripture (2 Peter 3:16).

Thus, we are left with a paradox. The Gospel message is easy to understand, so easy a child can understand it. Yet, it is written in a way that is so vastly complex that we will never comprehend it or understand it totally. The Gospel can be understood by all, but comprehended by none.

Luke 10:21
In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight.

Good points. We are to study to be approved, so we don't get carried away from the truth by every wind of doctrine that men try to present to us within their own testimonies. It's so very important in our walk, that we realize that the only true understanding and/or comprehension can only come from the Holy Spirit, or specifically - God. God bless in Christ.

hebfour
Jul 2nd 2008, 05:08 AM
Your/a definition:

Exegesis is the application within interpretation that “provides sound reasons for the choices it makes and positions it adopts.”(1) In short, exegesis explains a portion of the Bible by appealing to the historical, authorial, cultural, linguistic, immediate, and overall context of the passage.

This appears to be a way to gather ("appealing to the...") data about whatever's to be interpreted; then reading the data ("explaining"); and concluding with "sound reasons..." As far as it goes, if I understand what your disjointed definition means in my re-wording, it's a nice framework. I take issue, though with the "appealing" part. Here's why.

Imperfect at best and frought with pride, arrogance, and "haughty-spiritism."

When Peter said (or words to this effect), "You'll never go to the cross," Jesus replied, "Get thee behind me satan."

On the one hand, this is an impossible mission for one to exegete under your rubrick of "appealing." On the other, it's easy to use God's own words, found in His Bible, to make sense out of the inspired writings that we've been given across the ages.

Your definition looks like Eve's answer in the garden when she added to God's word and, deceivedly carried away with pride ate and gave to her husband and he did eat.

I don't trust methods that look away from truth ("...appealing to the historical, authorial, cultural, linguistic...") to shine light on truth. Yes, the Bible was written, inspired by holy men of God, and they really lived within the framework of history. The overriding principle, though is not so much what went on, who "authored," what the culture was like, what language they spoke, etc. No, the overriding principle is the good news that the death we experience because of the old covenant/testament will give way to life eternal when the new heavens and new earth, prepared by God, replace this passing away existence: all in accordance with His new covenant/testament, the one built on better promises. That's really pretty simple and it's all in the garden.

I suggest that you spend some time with His word and then more time and then more time; until you begin to understand that His words are too precious to be described by some artificial, analytical, man-made tool that many, if no most "Biblical scholars" use to further prideful arrogance. Jesus talked about this issue when He excoriated the scholars of His day. Don't fall into the same trap.

apothanein kerdos
Jul 2nd 2008, 05:46 AM
When Peter said (or words to this effect), "You'll never go to the cross," Jesus replied, "Get thee behind me satan."

On the one hand, this is an impossible mission for one to exegete under your rubrick of "appealing." On the other, it's easy to use God's own words, found in His Bible, to make sense out of the inspired writings that we've been given across the ages.

I agree - you can't use this method if you merely intend to look at a verse in a vacuum and completely ignore all the verses around it. The reason is the method requires that you look at the context.

Thus, if you wanted to use the method on the passage you mention, you'd have to appeal to the verses around it in order to explain it.


Your definition looks like Eve's answer in the garden when she added to God's word and, deceivedly carried away with pride ate and gave to her husband and he did eat.

How is it fraught with pride? Isn't it infinitely more prideful to say, "The passage means this because the Holy Spirit told me so...I guess He found me more important than you because He didn't tell you"?


I don't trust methods that look away from truth ("...appealing to the historical, authorial, cultural, linguistic...") to shine light on truth

Those things are truth. They really happened. If they really happened, they are truth. If they aren't truth, then they really didn't happen.


Yes, the Bible was written, inspired by holy men of God, and they really lived within the framework of history. The overriding principle, though is not so much what went on, who "authored," what the culture was like, what language they spoke, etc.

No one said it was the overriding principle. Instead, the purpose of using these is so we can understand exactly what the authors meant (such as when they use idioms that we don't have).


No, the overriding principle is the good news that the death we experience because of the old covenant/testament will give way to life eternal when the new heavens and new earth, prepared by God, replace this passing away existence: all in accordance with His new covenant/testament, the one built on better promises. That's really pretty simple and it's all in the garden

It's not that simple though. You can't understand any of that unless you appeal to the historical/grammatical method I have presented. Otherwise you are left with reading a book that doesn't have to be rooted in history, that doesn't necessarily have to be historically true, and worse, can be manipulated by modern linguistics and idioms.


I suggest that you spend some time with His word and then more time and then more time; until you begin to understand that His words are too precious to be described by some artificial, analytical, man-made tool that many, if no most "Biblical scholars" use to further prideful arrogance. Jesus talked about this issue when He excoriated the scholars of His day. Don't fall into the same trap.

How is it a man-made tool?

You're using a computer. Does God hate you now?

hebfour
Jul 3rd 2008, 07:26 AM
Your first comment:
"I agree - you can't use this method if you merely intend to look at a verse in a vacuum and completely ignore all the verses around it. The reason is the method requires that you look at the context.

Thus, if you wanted to use the method on the passage you mention, you'd have to appeal to the verses around it in order to explain it."
What's behind "merely intend?" I assume that you are a Bible student...let's put all of that thinking "I'm better than you are" condescension rubbish where it rightfully belongs, OK?

What's the context of any jot, tittle, letter, word, passage, etc? Not a rhetorical question. Well, you might say, there's the immediate context of the letters, words, verses, etc., around it. Then there's the context of (you name whatever you like). By your definition, you've set a limit of the "verses around it in order to explain it."

I don't agree with your limit and prefer to use the entire Bible as the contextual limit. In that way, I'm sure to harmonize any word, verse, passage, etc., with the rest of the Bible and find truth. Using your method increases the potential for error magnificently since you're looking in the vicinity to find truth. Finding things in the secular history that explain customs, word-usage, etc., further magnifies the potential for error. I prefer to believe that the holy Creator gave us enough so that we don't need to search for another light source to illuminate the meaning of His words.

Your method is much like satan's (or the teachers) when he (they) used Biblical passages to tempt the LORD. Let's take a look at Mt 19:8 where Jesus said, "...because of the hardness of your hearts..." Those Pharisees knew by heart and experience all of the passages (and secular rules - local context, if you will) about putting away; nowhere is there to be found anything about "hardness of hearts" connected to putting away. Yet, a simple trip back to the garden was all that Jesus needed to exegete for them. Please note that He didn't use the context of their statement (the Moses verses around it) but used the context of the beginning...much further removed than the immediate context that your definition demands.

apothanein kerdos
Jul 3rd 2008, 02:22 PM
What's the context of any jot, tittle, letter, word, passage, etc? Not a rhetorical question. Well, you might say, there's the immediate context of the letters, words, verses, etc., around it. Then there's the context of (you name whatever you like). By your definition, you've set a limit of the "verses around it in order to explain it."

When did I set a limit? In the original post I stated that we have to look at the verses immediately around it - no verse can be placed in a vacuum. At the same time, the same method I presented also draws upon other passages within Scripture to provide a greater context. Where did I limit it to just the passages around the single verse?


Your method is much like satan's

And at that point you've lost any hope of actually having a conversation with me.

hebfour
Jul 3rd 2008, 02:58 PM
Jesus wept and He didn't stop communicating. In fact, when the LORD told Daniel to close it up until the time of the end, He must have meant that the "time of the end" would come. Is there an inference in His statement that what was closed would be opened at the "time of the end?"

RabbiKnife
Jul 3rd 2008, 03:01 PM
Eisigesis is very helpful when trying to promote one's agenda.

apothanein kerdos
Jul 3rd 2008, 03:29 PM
Eisigesis is very helpful when trying to promote one's agenda.



This is very true - which is why many people are so opposed to having a methodological approach to finding the meaning of a Scripture. Too often they've been shown to be wrong in a belief by someone using the historical-grammatical method and, unwilling to drop their belief, have instead chosen to stick with what they already adhere to.

hebfour
Jul 4th 2008, 05:08 AM
and your agenda would be?

Athanasius
Jul 4th 2008, 06:07 AM
and your agenda would be?

One of the most exhilarating things in my life is finding people who know more than I do, and learning from those people. Seems to me this person is here to learn, share his view and in a way, teach. Why be so suspicious of his 'agenda'?

hebfour
Jul 5th 2008, 04:26 PM
not suspicious; just looking for data.

What's the deal here? Do we think for a moment that we know or can know the meaning of idioms in our own culture to the extent that we have any "real" understanding? I think not and here's why.

In my experience as a youth, words and phrases took on different meanings "at the drop of a hat", "moment by moment", whenever the "winds of change" precipitated a "paradigmatic shift." I even fancied myself as the author of some of those changes until I discovered that my "changes" on the east or west coast were not traveling in the intervening years across the country but were the result of some other "hot change agent." In today's instantly communicating world, maybe I could take credit for some of the things that amount to youthful verbal exuberance.

There's a huge difference, though, between what we do as carnal beings and what the holy men of God did when they lived in the times, thought their thoughts, and wrote the Holy Spirit words that they wrote. To think for a moment that we've "discovered" something about God's word that stoops to the level of the mundane "flies in the face" of Pr 22:29. No, God's word is meant to give us the sense of 2Ch7:14, "...humble..."

Please understand this: I'm a seeker after truth, as I sense you and anyone else who has addressed my comments are. I prefer to stay within the confines of the Bible and search for what God means by using His word, and His word alone, to do that.

I think that we're at a place in technological advancement that we have it within our power to discover more about God's word than at any other time in human history (of about 13000 years). I sense that we are on the verge of the end and we will find how close today.

In years gone by, I've been led to "believe" many things because I believed that I had all of the necessary data and believed that I knew the correct sequence of events, the players, etc. Sometimes I was "right" and often I wasn't.

I only want to know His word so that I'm finding truth.

I don't want to know from secular sources what the times were like or what the idioms meant or what else was happening; none of that is important.

apothanein kerdos
Jul 5th 2008, 04:44 PM
I don't want to know from secular sources what the times were like or what the idioms meant or what else was happening; none of that is important.

If you don't understand the idioms, then you can't understand the Bible. Simple as that.

Teke
Jul 5th 2008, 08:45 PM
What's the deal here? Do we think for a moment that we know or can know the meaning of idioms in our own culture to the extent that we have any "real" understanding? I think not and here's why.

St Basil the Great wrote On the Holy Spirit, main focus was prepositions and their usage with the faithful.
I can understand your concern.


There's a huge difference, though, between what we do as carnal beings and what the holy men of God did when they lived in the times, thought their thoughts, and wrote the Holy Spirit words that they wrote. To think for a moment that we've "discovered" something about God's word that stoops to the level of the mundane "flies in the face" of Pr 22:29. No, God's word is meant to give us the sense of 2Ch7:14, "...humble..."


You lost me here in what your relating. I agree there is a huge difference between us and them. We take far less care with God's written word.
What do you mean in the following two sentences, using Proverbs 22:29

KJV - Prov. 22:29 Seest thou a man diligent in his business?
he shall stand before kings;
He shalll not stand before mean men.


Sept. version - Proverbs 22:31 (verse 29 in KJV) An observant man and one astute in his business
Should be present with kings.
And he should not be present with slothful men.

The verse before v29 (KJV) says, "Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set" (Sept. "Do not remove the eternal landmarks your fathers established").
What point are you making?

And 2 Chronicles 7:14 ??.. is no indication of a necessity for scripture.
:confused

Just trying to understand what your saying .........

Mograce2U
Jul 5th 2008, 11:12 PM
Finding the keys in scripture can be a real motivator for further studying. For when we find them, we also find that more doors get unlocked in our understanding for us. But we need to always keep before us the idea that "if the Lord's wills" and "if God permits" is the avenue to greater light. Because to him who rightly divides the word, more light will be given. The man made tools may help us in our search but we ought not to put our trust in them, for it is the Lord who teaches and is the giver of light.

So while we might think it is our hermeneutic that has done this for us, it ain't so. Yet we want to help others come along too, so it makes sense that we would formulate such tools. But it is an error to then think it is our tool which brought this to us.

(Rom 9:21 KJV) Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?

(2 Tim 2:20-21 KJV) But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. {21} If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work.

It would seem the sanctifying work of the Lord has much to do with the light we are given as well, for it He who is forming us for His good work.

(Psa 94:17 KJV) Unless the LORD had been my help, my soul had almost dwelt in silence.

(1 Tim 3:13 KJV) For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.

So having said that, I do think it is important to understand the error of eisegesis so that we might learn to recognize it. But exegesis is a gift of God.

mcgyver
Jul 7th 2008, 02:39 AM
The following is an article from my website. The web address has been purposefully left off in order to protect my privacy (as it has my name, location, and things of that nature on my website, I post here with the intention to remain anonymous). Please enjoy.

Often in the church, lay people will hear these two words and simply raise an eyebrow about what is meant. After all, they do not have the luxury of attending seminaries that teach these confusing concepts. These concepts, however, dictate how we read the Bible and apply it. The church has done a disservice to people by not teaching them the meaning of these concepts or how to apply these concepts in their daily reading of scripture. Though I cannot fix this with one post, I do want to, hopefully, set us back on the right path. Before this can be done, we must understand what each word means.

Exegesis is the application within interpretation that “provides sound reasons for the choices it makes and positions it adopts.”(1) In short, exegesis explains a portion of the Bible by appealing to the historical, authorial, cultural, linguistic, immediate, and overall context of the passage.

Eisegesis is reading one’s preconceived notions, biases, and understandings into the text. We all bring biases to the text, but eisegesis is when we allow these biases to dictate how we read the text. If we assume, before reading scripture, that Jesus is not God, whenever we come across a passage that indicates Jesus is God, we will do what we can to twist the passage into saying what we want it to say.

The Problem of Presuppositions

The problem between the two is the difficulty in determining which path we are taking when interpreting and applying a passage of scripture. Even after we have looked at all the contexts, we can still read our own notion into the scripture and twist the contexts to make it appear as if we are justified. How, then, do we eliminate this?

We must understand that, no matter how hard we try, at times we will read our own understanding into the text. We all bring baggage to our interpretation and application, thus we will inevitably read our own experience into an interpretation. For instance, a person from a Western background is going to have a difficult time agreeing with a person from an Eastern background on certain portions of scripture. The reason is we come from completely different cultures that will understand certain concepts and idioms in a different manner. No matter how hard we try, our background will find its way into our interpretation in some cases.

There are two main approaches to dealing with the problem of presuppositions (though there are more, I want to focus on the two major approaches):

1) Embrace and accept the “reader-response criticism” – this criticism ignores authorial intent and abandons exegesis as “impersonal” and “scientific” and instead relies on the response from the reader to find truth. The reader, not the author, determines what the passage means for the reader. If want John 3:16 to be metaphorical, so long as this appeases my bias, I am justified. The Bible becomes a work of art rather than an absolute guide. This leads to the deconstruction approach of Jacques Derrida. This view, similar to what is stated above, teaches that all texts are eventually inconsistent and will “deconstruct” (undermine) it. It embraces contradictions and allows for the personal application and interpretation to the reader, instead of a universal understanding.

Many in the post-modern movement have accepted a form of this interpretation. This is best demonstrated in Emergent writer Peter Rollins when he states, “The text [Bible] is not only full of fractures, tensions and contradictions but informs us that fractures, tensions and contradictions are all we can hope for.”(2) Thus, according to Rollins, the Bible is nothing more than a text full of contradictions that is then left open for the reader to decide what is applicable to him and what is not. This, in McLaren’s view (who accepts the reader-response criticism) should lead to “…a Bible study or sermon that is successful not because everyone agrees on the preacher’s interpretation, but because, when the sermon is over, everyone can’t wait to talk about and read and ponder and discuss it more…”(3) Though inconspicuous, this is a Derrida-like approach to interpretation, as the co-author adequately points out later in the chapter.(4) In other words, the pastor or teacher should not teach universal truth from the Bible, but instead encourage the imagination of the audience so that people will explore the scriptures for themselves and gain their own understanding.

The problem with this view is that it allows for any justified reading of scripture. Though this method is useful in discovering tensions in the text, if we leave our reading at the tensions we lose a comprehensive approach to the Bible. If we each understand the Bible differently, and accept this difference, who is to say we can approach the world through one mind or one spirit as the Bible commands us to (Romans 12:16, Philippians 2:2)?

Though it might seem fanciful and radical to use such an interpretation method, it ultimately contradicts the reality of human existence. No one holds a conversation with another person using this method. Whenever we are in a conversation, whether subconsciously or consciously, we are trying to discover what the other person means. If my boss tells me to write a ten page report on the company’s income, I do not try to discover what this means to me; instead, I try to discover what my boss meant and how I should apply his intention to my action. If a husband tells his wife that he loves her, the wife does not try to dictate what “love” means to her, but tries to understand what her husband means by “love.” This is our approach to everyday conversation – why, then, is it not our approach to scripture?

2) Use the contexts of the passage to challenge our presuppositions – though we can admit that we will all approach scripture with presuppositions, we choose not to simply leave it at this. We use the different contexts of the passage to see what the author was trying to say, what he intended, and what application we can bring out of the passage. One approaches scripture with the idea that there is an intended universal meaning of the text and that we can know this meaning. Though we acknowledge our limits, we also realize that the Holy Spirit helps us in our interpretation of scripture.

Exegesis would then seek to test our presuppositions when approaching a passage by discovering the truth in that passage. It assumes that, despite our fallacies, we can “…arrive at the meaning of the text that the biblical writers or editors intended their readers to understand.”(5) This is done by looking at the various Biblical genres, history behind the text, other related passages, the immediate context of the text, the language (Greek, Hebrew, or Aramaic) it was composed in, the intended audience, and various other tests. It allows for the negation of our presuppositions in approaching a text.

An Example

A good example of eisegesis in a popular understanding is Revelation 3:15-16. This famous text speaks of how the church at Laodecia was neither hot nor cold for the Lord, but instead was lukewarm, and therefore was about to be spit out by the Lord. Many pastors and laypeople have taught that Christ is saying, “I’d rather you be on fire for me (hot) or completely against me (cold) than to be caught in between (lukewarm).” This has been a popular understanding and accepted interpretation. However, it is one of the best examples of eisegesis.

The first error in reading this passage is many people will read it prima facie. This is a Latin term which means “at face value” or more literal “at first glance.” In interpretation, it refers to our initial perception of a text. When people read this passage in Revelation, their initial reaction, based on their pre-understanding, is that “hot” and “cold” must refer to being on fire for Christ, or being against Christ. This is because in our culture we have used these words for such idioms. To be “cold” to something means to be disinterested or even against that thing. We think of the “cold shoulder,” or “cold speech,” or other similar idioms and figures of speech. We then take this pre-understanding and apply it to the reading in this passage.

The second error is ignoring the historical context of the passage. Laodicea is not a concept or a mythical church; it is a real church that existed in a real city. Notice in the passage how they are attacked for being affluent and are called poor, naked, and blind. This makes little sense until we look at the historical city of Laodicea. Laodicea was a very affluent city because of its famous textile industry. Likewise, it held a famous medical clinic that would develop an oily substance to help with the eyes. Thus, Jesus uses these three things in developing imagery for them and explains how, though they have gained these things physically, they are poor, naked, and blind spiritually.

Taking this further, we know that Laodicea lacked cool water. Instead, they had to use an Aqueduct to pipe in water from a neighboring city (Colosse). By the time the water got to Laodicea, it was lukewarm and therefore had many parasites. The people would have to boil their water before drinking it, otherwise they would get sick. Thus, cold water was viewed as refreshing and drinkable, while hot water was viewed as purifying. When we look at the historical context, we see that Christ is saying that Laodicea is neither hot nor cold, but instead lukewarm. What He means by this is that the church in Laodicea is neither refreshing to the general populace (via servant hood, helping the poor, etc) or purifying to the general populace (via sharing the Gospel). He wishes they would at least be one of them, but they are neither, they are indifferent to both. All they care about is amassing wealth and because of this, Jesus says they are a parasite and a disease. He draws an illustration to what would occur when someone drank the lukewarm water – they got sick and would throw up violently. Thus, Christ is saying the church in Laodicea makes Him sick.

The final error committed is ignoring the broader context of the Bible. The popular interpretation of the passage is that hot means we’re on fire for God and cold means we’re against God. Jesus says in the passage, “I wish that you were cold or hot.” Many pastors have gone on to say this means Jesus wishes you were either on fire for Jesus, or completely against Jesus, rather than being lukewarm. Is this something, though, that is present in the rest of the Bible? Is Jesus really saying that He’d rather us live in sin than to be lukewarm? This, it appears, would contradict 1 John 1:9-10, which states we will always sin and that we lie if we say we have no sin. In other words, the popular idea would contradict the broader context of scripture.

Application

This, of course, is just an example of how eisegesis can cause us to lose out on the greater meaning of a passage. Eisegesis generally occurs in the application of a passage, but also occurs when trying to discover the theology within a passage as well. As shown in this essay, the way to deal with the theology of a passage in interpretation is to look at the various contexts and challenge our presuppositions. I would add that we should never rely on our prima facie reading of a text to justify our interpretation. Anytime someone interprets the Bible and says, “Well it says plainly” or “it’s obvious from just reading,” a red flag should go up. Though there are passages that appear obvious, we should never take this obvious nature for granted. We should always explore what the text means, this way we can try our hardest to avoid eisegesis.

In application of a passage, there are certain rules that should be followed so we do not misapply a passage of scripture: (6)

1) Determine what the intended application was to the original audience – discovering what the author originally intended can often give a better understanding of how the passage can be applied to today.

2) Evaluate how specific the intended application was – is the command so specific to that time frame that the application cannot be carried out today? Abraham was told to sacrifice his son Isaac – does this mean that I should do the same thing?

3) Is the command timeless or is it limited by different cultures – there are certain principles that cross the cultural bounds (such as God is sovereign), but others that are limited to the culture (such as greeting each other with a holy kiss).

4) Find an appropriate application that will resemble the broader principle – as above, when a text can no longer be applied in its literal meaning (such as a holy kiss), we should still apply the principle. The principle behind greeting each other a holy kiss is to give a physical manifestation of openness. In our American culture, this can be accomplished by a hug or a handshake. Thus, even when the literal application of the intended audience is no longer culturally applicable, we should still seek out the broader principle presented.

Conclusion

It is easy for people to want to accept their initial reading of scripture as “guided by the Holy Spirit.” The reason is humans are naturally lazy and will seek out the easiest explanation for anything. It is difficult to discover the original meaning of a text and can take days to cover just two verses in scripture. Difficulty, however, does not mean we should avoid the practice. We should never accept our first instinct when reading a passage, but instead should seek out the proper context. Eisegesis will always lead to a misunderstanding of a passage and cause us to miss out on the true meaning – we should always seek a proper exegetical approach to the scriptures.





(1) Carson, D.A. Exegetical Fallacies. (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1996), 16.

(2) Rollins, Peter. How (Not) to Speak of God. (Brewster: Paraclete Press, 2005), 13.

(3) McLaren, Brian and Campolo, Tony. Adventures in Missing the Point: How a Culture-Controlled Church Neutered the Gospel. (Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 2003), 78

(4) Ibid. 83

(5) William Klien, Blomberg, Craig, and Hubbard, Rober Jr, Introduction to Biblical Interpretation (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2004), 153.

(6) This is a summarized version from concepts taken from Introduction to Biblical Interpretation. 482-503

First of all, I'd like to thank you for this excellent post!

I would also like to point out that (many times) Eisegesis is a result of laziness (IMO) on the part of the reader...

For example, if one did not know that there were hot mineral springs several miles from Laodicea from whence the water came...and that by the time the water arrived via the aqueduct it was "lukewarm" and completely unpalatable...well, you've pointed it out wonderfully!

Only way to find that out is through research.

Same thing applies to the parables, the Gospel accounts, etc. If we apply 21st century thinking to 1st century culture...IMO we end up with a lot of division and contention because we "miss" what was actually meant.

Anyway...good job!

Mograce2U
Jul 7th 2008, 02:44 AM
First of all, I'd like to thank you for this excellent post!

I would also like to point out that (many times) Eisegesis is a result of laziness (IMO) on the part of the reader...

For example, if one did not know that there were hot mineral springs several miles from Laodicea from whence the water came...and that by the time the water arrived via the aqueduct it was "lukewarm" and completely unpalatable...well, you've pointed it out wonderfully!

Only way to find that out is through research.

Same thing applies to the parables, the Gospel accounts, etc. If we apply 21st century thinking to 1st century culture...IMO we end up with a lot of division and contention because we "miss" what was actually meant.

Anyway...good job!I agree. The intended audience and what they perhaps already knew certainly helps us understand the author's intent. We ought not to assume anything based on our own experience only. Sometimes it seems that our teachers so rush to provide a modern application, that they fail to give us the setting so we might know the full import of the text. The church at Laodicea is a prime example of an "exegesis" that fails to deliver what John was being told to tell a people who knew more than we do. And it wasn't about the temperature of the water, it was about their lack of faith.

hebfour
Jul 7th 2008, 03:26 AM
You lost me here in what your relating. I agree there is a huge difference between us and them. We take far less care with God's written word.
What do you mean in the following two sentences, using Proverbs 22:29
KJV - Prov. 22:29 Seest thou a man diligent in his business?
he shall stand before kings;
He shalll not stand before mean men.
Sept. version - Proverbs 22:31 (verse 29 in KJV) An observant man and one astute in his business
Should be present with kings.
And he should not be present with slothful men.The verse before v29 (KJV) says, "Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set" (Sept. "Do not remove the eternal landmarks your fathers established").
What point are you making?

Do you know the verses where Jesus, after being found (by His parents) teaching in the temple, asks the question, "...about my Father's business?" This is the sense: We are about the business of searching (diligently) the scriptures and discovering truth; comparing scripture with scripture. We, in this sense, will stand before kings: bringing the true gospel.

And 2 Chronicles 7:14 ??.. is no indication of a necessity for scripture.
:confused

Just trying to understand what your saying .........[/quote]


In this passage, I am pointing out the humility that must be entered into and becomes part of our human fabric, not as a garment to be removed, but as one that is part of us in our relationship with the King of glory, the Creator. Without humility, all is vanity and chasing after the wind; without humility, our prayers are ineffective and our attempts to turn from our wicked ways are futile.

SIG
Jul 9th 2008, 02:55 AM
I agree in principle regarding exe v. eise....

But I hit this stumbling block:

What of those, say, 10 centuries ago, who did not have access to cultural context? Was the full message not available to them?

apothanein kerdos
Jul 9th 2008, 03:09 AM
I agree in principle regarding exe v. eise....

But I hit this stumbling block:

What of those, say, 10 centuries ago, who did not have access to cultural context? Was the full message not available to them?

Well I think two things come into play on this. First and foremost, we're severely underestimating the knowledge of those 10 Centuries ago. This modern bias comes from the Enlightenment that viewed such a time as "dark" because of their lack of reliance upon science and instead their reliance on religion. In saying this, they actually had somewhat of an understanding of the culture at the time. Though they lacked archeological understanding, they did understand the history of the time (an example is Maritn Luther - before he became an anti-semite - pointing out how the Jewish community in is time didn't differ much from the Jewish community in Jesus' time).

Secondly, even with a diminished knowledge, they could still understand the truth. Lets be honest - the Roman church that received the letter from Paul had a greater understanding and appreciation for what he said than we'll ever have. Those 1st Century Christians probably understood the purpose behind the letters and what they meant with such clarity that we can only dream about. This doesn't mean that the truth is different - it remains the same. The clarity and ability to understand the Scripture, however, has varied from age to age.

SIG
Jul 9th 2008, 06:07 AM
Hmmmmm...trying to digest this one.

Perhaps there is the larger, underlying truth that the Holy Spirit reveals, which is for all people at all times.

Then there is the culture-bound, intellectual seminarian truth that enables only a privileged select few to really grasp the surface meaning.

OK--just kidding....

the rookie
Jul 9th 2008, 06:58 AM
Well I think two things come into play on this. First and foremost, we're severely underestimating the knowledge of those 10 Centuries ago. This modern bias comes from the Enlightenment that viewed such a time as "dark" because of their lack of reliance upon science and instead their reliance on religion. In saying this, they actually had somewhat of an understanding of the culture at the time. Though they lacked archeological understanding, they did understand the history of the time (an example is Maritn Luther - before he became an anti-semite - pointing out how the Jewish community in is time didn't differ much from the Jewish community in Jesus' time).

Secondly, even with a diminished knowledge, they could still understand the truth. Lets be honest - the Roman church that received the letter from Paul had a greater understanding and appreciation for what he said than we'll ever have. Those 1st Century Christians probably understood the purpose behind the letters and what they meant with such clarity that we can only dream about. This doesn't mean that the truth is different - it remains the same. The clarity and ability to understand the Scripture, however, has varied from age to age.

Whoa - this was a pretty sweet answer...

RabbiKnife
Jul 9th 2008, 12:54 PM
Example:

There are 483,977 different books, seminars, sermon tapes, DVDs, and charts of what the book of The Revelation means.

I don't think the original hearers/readers had any question at all as to what John meant, even though he wrote in apocalyptic language.

The hearers of the Olivet Discourse weren't confused; they knew exactly what Jesus meant.

The church in Corinth was not confused by Paul's instructions; only we are.

In order to understand the message to the original hearer/reader, it is usually necessarily to diligently study secular sources in order to learn about the culture in which the Scripture finds its context.

Esperanza32
Jul 9th 2008, 01:59 PM
What a great explanation!

The way I think about it....our God can do whatever he wants, and if he had wanted to, he could have dropped the entire Bible into our laps straight from heaven, intact, written in King James English, complete with leather-bound pages and a ribbon bookmark.

But he chose to give us his Word in a wildly different way.

He chose to give us the Bible as 66 separate (but connected) books, put down in writing by lots of different inspired people at different times, in two different languages, in a variety of cultural contexts, for a variety of immediate purposes. I don't know why God chose to do this (dropping it intact from heaven sounds easier to me). BUT, since this is how God chose to give us his precious Word, shouldn't we learn about the people who wrote the Bible, the languages they wrote in, and the cultures they lived in, so we can better understand it? It seems irresponsible (and perhaps rude?) not to.

apothanein kerdos
Jul 9th 2008, 03:09 PM
Hmmmmm...trying to digest this one.

Perhaps there is the larger, underlying truth that the Holy Spirit reveals, which is for all people at all times.

Then there is the culture-bound, intellectual seminarian truth that enables only a privileged select few to really grasp the surface meaning.

OK--just kidding....

Though you intend this as a joke (and I find it funny), a lot of seminarians, unfortunately, hold this attitude.

Instead, the Historical-Grammatical is really something any layperson, with enough resources, can do on their own (for the most part).

I think I would say that there is an underlying truth there that all can access, but we can't really begin to appreciate the entirety of it, or understand it in a complete way, until we begin to find a way to look through it with 1st Century eyes.

Mograce2U
Jul 9th 2008, 04:32 PM
Yet if one is observant while studying the scriptures he can get a pretty good picture of the times in which they were written. Men may change their style of dress over time, but their hearts and lives are pretty much the same in every generation. I don't see that an increase in scientific knowlege has really added anything except more confusion. A problem which Adam certainly didn't have to face - until the devil showed up that is!

Friend of I AM
Jul 9th 2008, 04:44 PM
Yet if one is observant while studying the scriptures he can get a pretty good picture of the times in which they were written. Men may change their style of dress over time, but their hearts and lives are pretty much the same in every generation. I don't see that an increase in scientific knowlege has really added anything except more confusion. A problem which Adam certainly didn't have to face - until the devil showed up that is!

Good points Mo. Adam was a smart man and possessed much knowledge of the world around him. The bible doesn't tell us specifically how smart Adam was, but I'm sure that his intelligence was on a supernatural level being that he was keeper of everything on earth at the time.

The first man found in Adam though was natural, and the second man found in Christ is spiritual. Thus the deep meanings of God's Word can only be truly discerned by the spirit and not by natural means. This doesn't mean that one shouldn't study themselves to be approved though as many have pointed out. As others have stated though, it is also important that we focus on building up knowledge of the Word within our walks, since God is indeed a God of knowledge and power. We do indeed have to be careful though not to get too caught up in geneologies and terminologies that aren't found within the word, as they generally lead one moreso to confusion than to the truth of the gospel.

Mograce2U
Jul 9th 2008, 05:01 PM
I agree Steven looking at 2 Tim 2:15. The extra biblical stuff is for carnal understanding, not spiritual, we ought not to confuse the two as being the same. Godliness is to be the pursuit of rightly dividing the word, not attaining knowledge to puff oneself up. The carnal things that be of man have this tendency to cause pride to rear its ugly head. Which in turn causes one to become a judge of the word of God rather than a student. Whereas we can know nothing of spiritual things unless God reveals it.

RabbiKnife
Jul 9th 2008, 05:07 PM
If one cannot read, how is one to learn the truth of the Scripture for himself or herself? Clearly, the ability to read is a carnal, not spiritual ability, and many atheists have the ability to read the words of Scripture.

The point is this.

Properly understanding, studying, and interpreting scripture is a spiritual task in which the Holy Spirit guides the student, but only to the degree that the student is prepared to learn. For the believer, there is no distinction between "spiritual" and "natural" learning, or at least there shouldn't be.

Saying "I don't have to learn all that cultural stuff from some carnal source" is a cop out for saying "I don't want to expend the effort to become a better student; I'll rely on the Teacher to tell me all I need to know." As has already been pointed out, a lack of understanding of the cultural context in which the first audience heard the message is often the beinging of woes.

Every cult every birth from a preacher started out with a misunderstanding and misapplication of the Word.

Friend of I AM
Jul 9th 2008, 05:20 PM
If one cannot read, how is one to learn the truth of the Scripture for himself or herself? Clearly, the ability to read is a carnal, not spiritual ability, and many atheists have the ability to read the words of Scripture.

The point is this.

Properly understanding, studying, and interpreting scripture is a spiritual task in which the Holy Spirit guides the student, but only to the degree that the student is prepared to learn. For the believer, there is no distinction between "spiritual" and "natural" learning, or at least there shouldn't be.

Saying "I don't have to learn all that cultural stuff from some carnal source" is a cop out for saying "I don't want to expend the effort to become a better student; I'll rely on the Teacher to tell me all I need to know." As has already been pointed out, a lack of understanding of the cultural context in which the first audience heard the message is often the beinging of woes.

Every cult every birth from a preacher started out with a misunderstanding and misapplication of the Word.

I get what you're saying. I don't think anyone in here has stated that they approve of a laxidasical approach to studying the Word. Myself and others have actually sited verses which would back up what you've said, regarding the importance of being eager to obtain knowledge behind the scriptures when seeking God(i.e. 2 Timothy 2:15)

We need to be careful though in assumming that those who lack our own educational abilities/credentials are unable to understand and interpret the word when presented to them. Jesus did indeed state that one must be like a "child" when entering the kingdom, so faith in God and his spirit should be our primary source in being able to discern/understand the word, regardless of our individual levels of education.

Mograce2U
Jul 9th 2008, 05:35 PM
If one cannot read, how is one to learn the truth of the Scripture for himself or herself? Clearly, the ability to read is a carnal, not spiritual ability, and many atheists have the ability to read the words of Scripture.

The point is this.

Properly understanding, studying, and interpreting scripture is a spiritual task in which the Holy Spirit guides the student, but only to the degree that the student is prepared to learn. For the believer, there is no distinction between "spiritual" and "natural" learning, or at least there shouldn't be.

Saying "I don't have to learn all that cultural stuff from some carnal source" is a cop out for saying "I don't want to expend the effort to become a better student; I'll rely on the Teacher to tell me all I need to know." As has already been pointed out, a lack of understanding of the cultural context in which the first audience heard the message is often the beinging of woes.

Every cult every birth from a preacher started out with a misunderstanding and misapplication of the Word.Last point first. Carnal surmisings do not come from a lack of knowing cultural truths. They come from making assumptions, based on human understanding or experience - or from what seems right in our own eyes.

Laodicea was the example used earlier for discovering the truth of what hot, cold and lukewarm water means in its spiritual context. The common interpretation many spout is that it is about zeal. Yet the CONTEXT goes on to show that it is about a lack of faith altogether. Jumping to a conclusion which is not supported by the text is the error. So knowing about the two springs of water which flowed into Laodicea and the parasites living in the lukewarm water really is not much help in understanding the text at all.

Once you understand however that faith is what they lacked, then you can see why the analogy to the water is being given. Their works were insipid in their ability to provide any true comfort or refreshment to the people they served. Without living water there is nothing but dead works being offered. Which is also in line with what the other churches were being told as well. Not to depart from the faith...

apothanein kerdos
Jul 9th 2008, 08:19 PM
If one cannot read, how is one to learn the truth of the Scripture for himself or herself? Clearly, the ability to read is a carnal, not spiritual ability, and many atheists have the ability to read the words of Scripture.

The point is this.

Properly understanding, studying, and interpreting scripture is a spiritual task in which the Holy Spirit guides the student, but only to the degree that the student is prepared to learn. For the believer, there is no distinction between "spiritual" and "natural" learning, or at least there shouldn't be.

Saying "I don't have to learn all that cultural stuff from some carnal source" is a cop out for saying "I don't want to expend the effort to become a better student; I'll rely on the Teacher to tell me all I need to know." As has already been pointed out, a lack of understanding of the cultural context in which the first audience heard the message is often the beinging of woes.

Every cult every birth from a preacher started out with a misunderstanding and misapplication of the Word.

Too bad your rep is off. I was about to rep you for this post. It's excellent.