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For other uses, see Exegesis (disambiguation). Exegesis_sentence_0

Exegesis (/ˌɛksɪˈdʒiːsɪs/; from the Greek ἐξήγησις from ἐξηγεῖσθαι, "to lead out") is a critical explanation or interpretation of a text, particularly a religious text. Exegesis_sentence_1

Traditionally the term was used primarily for work with the Bible; however, in modern usage biblical exegesis is used for greater specificity to distinguish it from any other broader critical text explanation. Exegesis_sentence_2

Exegesis includes a wide range of critical disciplines: textual criticism is the investigation into the history and origins of the text, but exegesis may include the study of the historical and cultural backgrounds of the author, text, and original audience. Exegesis_sentence_3

Other analyses include classification of the type of literary genres presented in the text and analysis of grammatical and syntactical features in the text itself. Exegesis_sentence_4

The terms exegesis and hermeneutics have been used interchangeably. Exegesis_sentence_5

Usage Exegesis_section_0

One who practices exegesis is called an exegete (/ˌɛksɪˈdʒiːt/; from Greek ἐξηγητής). Exegesis_sentence_6

The plural of exegesis is exegeses (/ˌɛksɪˈdʒiːsiːz/). Exegesis_sentence_7

Adjectives are exegetic or exegetical (e.g., exegetical commentaries). Exegesis_sentence_8

In biblical exegesis, the opposite of exegesis (to draw out) is eisegesis (to draw in), in the sense of an eisegetic commentator "importing" or "drawing in" his or her own purely subjective interpretations into the text, unsupported by the text itself. Exegesis_sentence_9

Eisegesis is often used as a derogatory term. Exegesis_sentence_10

Mesopotamian commentaries Exegesis_section_1

One of the early examples, and one of the larger corpora of text commentaries from the ancient world, comes from Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq) in the first millennium BCE. Exegesis_sentence_11

Containing over 860 manuscripts, the majority of which date to 700–100 BCE, these commentaries explore numerous types of texts, including literary works (such as the Babylonian Epic of Creation), medical treatises, magical texts, ancient dictionaries, and law collections (the Code of Hammurabi). Exegesis_sentence_12

Most of them, however, comment on divination treatises, in particular treatises that predict the future from the appearance and movement of celestial bodies on the one hand (Enūma Anu Enlil), and from the appearance of a sacrificed sheep’s liver on the other (Bārûtu). Exegesis_sentence_13

As with the majority of the thousands of texts from the ancient Near East that have survived to the present day, Mesopotamian text commentaries are written on clay tablets in cuneiform script. Exegesis_sentence_14

Text commentaries are written in the East Semitic language of Akkadian, but due to the influence of lexical lists written in Sumerian language on cuneiform scholarship, they often contain Sumerian words or phrases as well. Exegesis_sentence_15

Cuneiform commentaries are important because they provide information about Mesopotamian languages and culture that are not available elsewhere in the cuneiform record. Exegesis_sentence_16

To give but one example, the pronunciation of the cryptically written name of Gilgamesh, the hero of the Epic of Gilgamesh, was discovered in a cuneiform commentary on a medical text. Exegesis_sentence_17

However, the significance of cuneiform commentaries extends beyond the light they shed on specific details of Mesopotamian civilization. Exegesis_sentence_18

They shed light on what the concerns of the Mesopotamian literate elite were when they read some of the most widely studied texts in the Mesopotamian intellectual tradition, a perspective that is important for “seeing things their way.” Finally, cuneiform commentaries are also the earliest examples of textual interpretation. Exegesis_sentence_19

It has been repeatedly argued that they influenced rabbinical exegesis. Exegesis_sentence_20

See Exegesis_sentence_21

The publication and interpretation of these texts began in the mid-19th century, with the discovery of the royal Assyrian libraries at Nineveh, from which ca. 454 text commentaries have been recovered. Exegesis_sentence_22

The study of cuneiform commentaries is, however, far from complete. Exegesis_sentence_23

It is the subject of on-going research by the small, international community of scholars who specialize in the field of Assyriology. Exegesis_sentence_24

Bible commentaries Exegesis_section_2

See also: List of Biblical commentaries and Jewish commentaries on the Bible Exegesis_sentence_25

A common published form of biblical exegesis is known as a Bible commentary and typically takes the form of a set of books, each of which is devoted to the of one or two books of the Bible. Exegesis_sentence_26

Long books or those that contain much material either for theological or historical-critical speculation, such as Genesis or Psalms, may be split over two or three volumes. Exegesis_sentence_27

Some, such as the Four Gospels, may be multiple- or single-volume, while short books such as the deuterocanonical portions of Daniel, Esther, and Jeremiah (i.e. Book of Susanna, Prayer of Azariah, Bel and the Dragon, Additions to Esther, Baruch and the Epistle of Jeremiah), or the pastoral or Johannine epistles are often condensed into one volume. Exegesis_sentence_28

The form of each book may be identical or allow for variations in methodology between the many authors who collaborate to write a full commentary. Exegesis_sentence_29

Each book's commentary generally consists of a background and introductory section, followed by detailed commentary of the book pericope-by-pericope or verse-by-verse. Exegesis_sentence_30

Before the 20th century, a commentary would be written by a sole author, but today a publishing board will commission a team of scholars to write a commentary, with each volume being divided out among them. Exegesis_sentence_31

A single commentary will generally attempt to give a coherent and unified view on the Bible as a whole, for example, from a Catholic or Reformed (Calvinist) perspective, or a commentary that focuses on textual criticism or historical criticism from a secular point of view. Exegesis_sentence_32

However, each volume will inevitably lean toward the personal emphasis of its author, and within any commentaries there may be great variety in the depth, accuracy, and critical or theological strength of each volume. Exegesis_sentence_33

Christianity Exegesis_section_3

Main article: Biblical hermeneutics Exegesis_sentence_34

Views Exegesis_section_4

The main Christian exegetical methods are historical-grammatical, historical criticism, revealed, and rational. Exegesis_sentence_35

The historical-grammatical method is a Christian hermeneutical method that strives to discover the Biblical author's original intended meaning in the text. Exegesis_sentence_36

It is the primary method of interpretation for many conservative Protestant exegetes who reject the historical-critical method to various degrees (from the complete rejection of historical criticism of some fundamentalist Protestants to the moderated acceptance of it in the Catholic Church since Pope Pius XII), in contrast to the overwhelming reliance on historical-critical interpretation, often to the exclusion of all other hermeneutics, in liberal Christianity. Exegesis_sentence_37

Historical criticism also known as the historical-critical method or higher criticism, is a branch of literary criticism that investigates the origins of ancient texts in order to understand "the world behind the text". Exegesis_sentence_38

This is done to discover the text's primitive or original meaning in its original historical context and its literal sense. Exegesis_sentence_39

Revealed exegesis considers that the Holy Spirit inspired the authors of the scriptural texts, and so the words of those texts convey a divine revelation. Exegesis_sentence_40

In this view of exegesis, the principle of sensus plenior applies — that because of its divine authorship, the Bible has a "fuller meaning" than its human authors intended or could have foreseen. Exegesis_sentence_41

Rational exegesis bases its operation on the idea that the authors have their own inspiration (in this sense, synonymous with artistic inspiration), so their works are completely and utterly a product of the social environment and human intelligence of their authors. Exegesis_sentence_42

Catholic Exegesis_section_5

See also: Roman Catholic theology of Scripture Exegesis_sentence_43

Catholic centres of biblical exegesis include: Exegesis_sentence_44


Protestant Exegesis_section_6

For more than a century, German universities such as Tübingen have had reputations as centers of exegesis; in the USA, the Divinity Schools of Chicago, Harvard and Yale became famous. Exegesis_sentence_45

Robert A. Traina's book Methodical Bible Study is an example of Protestant Christian exegesis. Exegesis_sentence_46

Indian philosophy Exegesis_section_7

The Mimamsa school of Indian philosophy, also known as Pūrva Mīmāṃsā ("prior" inquiry, also Karma-Mīmāṃsā), in contrast to Uttara Mīmāṃsā ("posterior" inquiry, also Brahma-Mīmāṃsā), is strongly concerned with textual exegesis, and consequently gave rise to the study of philology and the philosophy of language. Exegesis_sentence_47

Its notion of shabda "speech" as indivisible unity of sound and meaning (signifier and signified) is due to Bhartrhari (7th century). Exegesis_sentence_48

Islam Exegesis_section_8

Main articles: Tafsir and Esoteric interpretation of the Quran Exegesis_sentence_49

Tafsir (Arabic: تفسير‎, tafsīr, "interpretation") is the Arabic word for exegesis or commentary, usually of the Qur'an. Exegesis_sentence_50

An author of tafsīr is a mufassir (Arabic: 'مُفسر‎, mufassir, plural: Arabic: مفسرون‎, mufassirūn). Exegesis_sentence_51

Tafsir does not include esoteric or mystical interpretations, which are covered by the related word Ta'wil. Exegesis_sentence_52

Shi'ite organization Ahlul Bayt Digital Islamic Library Project cites the Islamic prophet Muhammad as stating that the Qur'an has an inner meaning, and that this inner meaning conceals an even deeper inner meaning, in support of this view. Exegesis_sentence_53

Adherents of people for Sufism and Ilm al-Kalam pioneered this thought. Exegesis_sentence_54

Judaism Exegesis_section_9

Main articles: Jewish commentaries on the Bible and Pardes (Jewish exegesis) Exegesis_sentence_55

Traditional Jewish forms of exegesis appear throughout rabbinic literature, which includes the Mishnah, the two Talmuds, and the midrash literature. Exegesis_sentence_56

Jewish exegetes have the title mefarshim מפרשים‎ (commentators). Exegesis_sentence_57

Midrash Exegesis_section_10

The Midrash is a homiletic method of exegesis and a compilation of homiletic teachings or commentaries on the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible), a biblical exegesis of the Pentateuch and its paragraphs related to the Law or Torah, which also forms an object of analysis. Exegesis_sentence_58

It comprises the legal and ritual Halakha, the collective body of Jewish laws, and exegesis of the written Law; and the non-legalistic Aggadah, a compendium of Rabbinic homilies of the parts of the Pentateuch not connected with Law. Exegesis_sentence_59

Biblical interpretation by the Tannaim and the Amoraim, which may be best designated as scholarly interpretations of the Midrash, was a product of natural growth and of great freedom in the treatment of the words of the Bible. Exegesis_sentence_60

However, it proved an obstacle to further development when, endowed with the authority of a sacred tradition in the Talmud and in the Midrash (collections edited subsequently to the Talmud), it became the sole source for the interpretation of the Bible among later generations. Exegesis_sentence_61

Traditional literature contains explanations that are in harmony with the wording and the context. Exegesis_sentence_62

It reflects evidence of linguistic sense, judgment, and an insight into the peculiarities and difficulties of the biblical text. Exegesis_sentence_63

But side by side with these elements of a natural and simple Bible exegesis, of value even today, the traditional literature contains an even larger mass of expositions removed from the actual meaning of the text. Exegesis_sentence_64


In the halakhic as well as in the haggadic exegesis the endeavored not so much to seek the original meaning of the text as to find authority in some Bible passage for concepts and ideas, rules of conduct and teachings, for which he wished to have a biblical foundation. Exegesis_sentence_65

The talmudical hermeneutics form asmachta is defined as finding hints for a given law rather than basing on the bible text. Exegesis_sentence_66

To this were added, on the one hand, the belief that the words of the Bible had many meanings, and, on the other, the importance attached to the smallest portion, the slightest of the text. Exegesis_sentence_67

Because of this move towards particularities the exegesis of the Midrash strayed further and further away from a natural and common-sense interpretation. Exegesis_sentence_68


Midrash exegesis was largely in the nature of homiletics, expounding the Bible not in order to investigate its actual meaning and to understand the documents of the past but to find religious , moral instruction, and sustenance for the thoughts and feelings of the present. Exegesis_sentence_69

The contrast between explanation of the literal sense and the Midrash, that did not follow the words, was recognized by the Tannaim and the Amoraim, although their idea of the literal meaning of a biblical passage may not be allowed by more modern standards. Exegesis_sentence_70

The above-mentioned tanna, Ishmael b. Elisha said, rejecting an exposition of Eliezer b. Hyrcanus: "Truly, you say to Scripture, 'Be silent while I am expounding!'" Exegesis_sentence_71

(Sifra on Lev. Exegesis_sentence_72

xiii. Exegesis_sentence_73

49). Exegesis_sentence_74


Tannaitic exegesis distinguishes principally between the actual deduction of a thesis from a Bible passage as a means of proving a point, and the use of such a passage as a mere mnemonic device – a distinction that was also made in a different form later in the Babylonian schools. Exegesis_sentence_75

The Babylonian Amoraim were the first to use the expression "Peshaṭ" ("simple" or face value method) to designate the primary sense, contrasting it with the "Drash," the Midrashic exegesis. Exegesis_sentence_76

These two terms were later on destined to become important features in the history of Jewish Bible exegesis. Exegesis_sentence_77

In Babylonia was formulated the important principle that the Midrashic exegesis could not annul the primary sense. Exegesis_sentence_78

This principle subsequently became the watchword of commonsense Bible exegesis. Exegesis_sentence_79

How little it was known or recognized may be seen from the admission of Kahana, a Babylonian amora of the fourth century, that while at 18 years of age he had already learned the whole Mishnah, he had only heard of that principle a great many years later (Shab 63a). Exegesis_sentence_80

Kahana's admission is characteristic of the centuries following the final redaction of the Talmud. Exegesis_sentence_81

The primary meaning is no longer considered, but it becomes more and more the fashion to interpret the text according to the meaning given to it in traditional literature. Exegesis_sentence_82

The ability and even the desire for original investigation of the text succumbed to the overwhelming authority of the Midrash. Exegesis_sentence_83

It was, therefore, providential that, just at the time when the Midrash was paramount, the close study of the text of the Bible, at least in one direction, was pursued with rare energy and perseverance by the Masorites, who set themselves to preserving and transmitting the pronunciation and correct reading of the text. Exegesis_sentence_84

By introducing punctuation (vowel-points and accents) into the biblical text, in the seventh century, they supplied that protecting hedge which, according to Rabbi Akiva's saying, the Masorah was to be for the words of the Bible. Exegesis_sentence_85

Punctuation, on the one hand, protected the tradition from being forgotten, and, on the other, was the precursor of an independent Bible science to be developed in a later age. Exegesis_sentence_86

Mikra Exegesis_section_11

The Mikra, the fundamental part of the national science, was the subject of the primary instruction. Exegesis_sentence_87

It was also divided into the three historic groups of the books of the Bible: the Pentateuch, the Prophets, and the Hagiographa, called in traditional Hebrew attribution the Torah (the Law or Teaching), the Nevi'im (the Prophets) and the Kethuvim (the Writings) respectively. Exegesis_sentence_88

The intelligent reading and comprehension of the text, arrived at by a correct division of the sentences and words, formed the course of instruction in the Bible. Exegesis_sentence_89

The scribes were also required to know the Targum, the Aramaic translation of the text. Exegesis_sentence_90

The Targum made possible an immediate comprehension of the text, but was continuously influenced by the exegesis taught in the schools. Exegesis_sentence_91

The synagogues were preeminently the centers for instruction in the Bible and its exegesis. Exegesis_sentence_92

The reading of the biblical text, which was combined with that of the Targum, served to widen the knowledge of the scholars learned in the first division of the national science. Exegesis_sentence_93

The scribes found the material for their discourses, which formed a part of the synagogue service, in the second division of the several branches of the tradition. Exegesis_sentence_94

The Haggadah, the third of these branches, was the source material for the sermon. Exegesis_sentence_95

Jewish exegesis did not finish with the redaction of the Talmud, but continued during ancient times, the Middle Ages and the Renaissance; it remains a subject of study today. Exegesis_sentence_96

Jews have centres for exegetic studies around the world, in each community: they consider exegesis an important tool for the understanding of the Scriptures. Exegesis_sentence_97

Zoroastrianism Exegesis_section_12

Zoroastrian exegesis consists basically of the interpretation of the Avesta. Exegesis_sentence_98

However, the closest equivalent Iranian concept, zand, generally includes Pahlavi texts which were believed to derive from commentaries upon Avestan scripture, but whose extant form contains no Avestan passages. Exegesis_sentence_99

Zoroastrian exegesis differs from similar phenomena in many other religions in that it developed as part of a religious tradition which made little or no use of writing until well into the Sasanian era. Exegesis_sentence_100

This lengthy period of oral transmission has clearly helped to give the Middle Persian Zand its characteristic shape and has, in a sense, limited its scope. Exegesis_sentence_101

Although the later tradition makes a formal distinction between “Gathic” (gāhānīg), “legal” (dādīg), and perhaps “ritual” (hādag-mānsrīg) Avestan texts, there appear to be no significant differences in approach between the Pahlavi commentary on the Gathas and those on dādīg texts, such as the Vendīdād, the Hērbedestān and the Nērangestān. Exegesis_sentence_102

Since many 19th and 20th century works by Zoroastrians contain an element of exegesis, while on the other hand no exegetical literature in the strict sense of the word can be said to exist, the phenomenon of modern Zoroastrian exegesis as such will be discussed here, without detailed reference to individual texts. Exegesis_sentence_103

In a secular context Exegesis_section_13

Several universities, including the Sorbonne in Paris, Leiden University, and the Université Libre de Bruxelles (Free University of Brussels), put exegesis in a secular context, next to exegesis in a religious tradition. Exegesis_sentence_104

Secular exegesis is an element of the study of religion. Exegesis_sentence_105

At Australian universities, the exegesis is part of practice-based doctorate projects. Exegesis_sentence_106

It is a scholarly text accompanying a film, literary text, etc. produced by the PhD. Exegesis_sentence_107

candidate. Exegesis_sentence_108

See also Exegesis_section_14

Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exegesis.