Does the Bible really SAY that?
A definition is is in order before anything else is said, so this from our friend, Merriam Webster:
noun \ˌī-sə-ˈjē-səs, ˈī-sə-ˌ\
Definition of EISEGESIS
: the interpretation of a text (as of the Bible) by reading into it one’s own ideas
Origin of EISEGESIS
Greek eis into (akin to Greek en in) + English exegesis — more at in
First Known Use: 1892
Another source offers us this:
Eisegesis (from Greek εἰς “into” and ending from exegesis from ἐξηγεῖσθαι “to lead out”) is the process of misinterpreting a text in such a way that it introduces one’s own ideas, reading into the text. This is best understood when contrasted with exegesis. While exegesis draws out the meaning from the text, eisegesis occurs when a reader reads his/her interpretation into the text. As a result, exegesis tends to be objective when employed effectively while eisegesis is regarded as highly subjective. An individual who practices eisegesis is known as an eisegete, as someone who practices exegesis is known as an exegete. The term eisegete is often used in a mildly derogatory fashion.
Eisegesis isn’t always a bad, because one’s own ideas might be a reasonable interpretation, or logical and otherwise biblically sound inference. Eiesegis, when what is ‘read into’ scripture is completely foreign to the actual text, is in contradiction with the larger context(s) of scripture (section, chapter, book, etc.), or otherwise changes the actual meaning of what has been written (even subtly), is just plain ‘bad, on several levels.
What does it matter if we ‘fudge’ a little if our motives are to lead people to Christ, help others feel better about themselves, or encourage Christians in their walk? Well, hopefully that will become self-evident as we provide some examples in subsequent “Eisegesis Unplugged” episodes.
The purpose of ‘Eisegesis Unplugged’ is to encourage readers and lovers of scripture to focus first and foremost on what it actually says and means, as written by those whom God inspired. And since the Holy Spirit is the actual author, ultimately we are talking about the authority and integrity of God’s Book, and the Honor of His Name .
The practical, here and now benefit?
When we know what scripture really says and means, we can recognize what might be ‘questionable’ and as a result apply the Berean principle and test what we are being told or taught (if we are not doing so already). For those of us who engage in ‘scriptural gymnastics‘ now and then, even with the ‘purest’ (in our minds) motives, perhaps there will be a realization that it is absolutely not necessary to engage in such God-dishonoring activity!
Enough for a short introduction to “Eisegesis Unplugged”. Subsequent posts will deal with actual examples of uses of scripture that should cause us to ask “Did the Bible REALLY say that?”
Disclaimer: The author of this, and subsequent blog posts with the same theme, makes no personal claim to having all truth. There is nothing ‘personal’ intended by contained herein, although statements made by persons known to the author might be included (even his own).