Exegesis (Greek ἐξηγεῖσθαι 'to lead out') is an extensive and critical interpretation of any text, or especially of a holy scripture, such as of the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, the Talmud, the Midrash, the Qur'an, etc. An exegete is a person skilled in the science of interpretation.
The word exegesis means to draw the meaning out of a given text. It is sometimes contrasted with eisegesis, which means to read one's own interpretation into a given text. In general, exegesis presumes an attempt to view the text objectively, while eisegesis is more subjective.
Although the most known exegeses are from Christian, Jewish and Islamic books, there are analyses on books of other religions.
According to some forms of Christianity, there are two different form of exegesis: revealed and rational. The revealed exegesis considers that the authors were inspired by the Holy Ghost and so their words have a divine revelation. The rational exegesis is based on the idea that the authors have their own inspiration, so their works are conceived by their own intelligence.
Among Roman Catholic centres of biblical exegesis are :
For more than 100 years, exegesis rose from German Universities such as Tübingen; in the USA, the Divinity Schools in Chicago, Harvard and Yale became famous. Nowadays, a lot of secular universities such as EPHE (Ecole pratique des hautes Etudes, France) are concerned with exegesis. See higher criticism.
One influential book in the field of Protestant Christian exegesis is Methodical Bible Study by Robert A. Traina. It is regarded by many as the standard text describing the inductive approach to interpreting the English language Bible.
Translations of the Hebrew Bible, like the Septuaginta and Vulgate, based on Jewish exegesis, are also objects of exegetic studies.
Traditional Jewish forms of exegesis are found throughout rabbinic literature, which includes the Mishnah, the two Talmuds, and the midrash literature.
Jewish exegets are called meforshim, commentators.
The Midrash is an exposition of biblical exegesis of the Pentateuch and its paragraphs related to Law, which is also object of analysis. The Halakhah is an exegesis of the written Law. The Aggadah is an exegesis of the parts of the Pentateuch not connected with Law.
The Mikra is the exegetical study of the Pentateuch, the Prophets and the Hagiographa, the three divisions of the Old Testament or Jewish Bible. The Masorah is the exegesis that determined the rules and principles that govern the biblical texts. The Talmud was redacted as a result of exegetic studies, and is also object of study and analysis.
Jewish exegesis did not finish with the redaction of the Talmud, but continued during ancient times, the Middle Age, the Renaissance, and is still a subject of study. Jews have centres for exegetic studies around the world, in each community, being this considered an important clue for the understanding of the Scriptures.
Last updated: 06-01-2005 22:55:05