RELIGST 2VV3 Lecture Notes - Book Of Deuteronomy, Jean Astruc, Threshing Floor
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Exegesis and Interpretation
September 26, 2011
What is Exegesis?
• The term “exegesis” is a technical term most often applied to the task of investigating the meaning of a biblical
text or passage.
• Comes from the Greek word that means “to guide or lead out.”
• The opposite of exegesis is “eisegesis” which means to “guide or lead in.”
• Exegesis means to read with a view to what the text means.
• Eisegesis means to “read into” or to find meaning in a text that is not there but is based on the interpreter’s own
Exegesis versus Eisegesis
• “Eisegesis” is generally used pejoratively.
• But, as you read the section “The Hebrew Bible interprets itself” in NOAB (2201-2204) we see that later
passages in the Jewish scriptures often “rework,” “reinterpret” early texts to make them fit the contemporary
• “This is a natural process; no text can be read purely in the abstract, since we all bring our lives and
experiences to the text and often attempt to bring the text closer to our lives” (NOAB, 2201).
• Traditionally, however, in the academic study of the Bible, scholars have attempted to remain as “objective” as
possible. To engage in exegesis rather than eisegesis.
Exodus vs Deuteronomy
2 “If you buy a Hebrew servant, he is to serve you for six
years. But in the seventh year, he shall go free, without
paying anything. 3 If he comes alone, he is to go free
alone; but if he has a wife when he comes, she is to go
with him. 4 If his master gives him a wife and she bears
him sons or daughters, the woman and her children shall
belong to her master, and only the man shall go free. 5
“But if the servant declares, ‘I love my master and my wife
and children and do not want to go free,’ 6 then his master
must take him before the judges.[or, “before God”] He shall take
him to the door or the doorpost and pierce his ear with an
awl. Then he will be his servant for life.
12 If any of your people—Hebrew men or women—sell
themselves to you and serve you six years, in the seventh
year you must let them go free. 13 And when you release
them, do not send them away empty-handed. 14 Supply
them liberally from your flock, your threshing floor and your
winepress. Give to them as the LORD your God has
blessed you. 15 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt
and the LORD your God redeemed you. That is why I give
you this command today. 16 But if your servant says to
you, “I do not want to leave you,” because he loves you
and your family and is well off with you, 17 then take an awl
and push it through his earlobe into the door, and he will
become your servant for life. Do the same for your female
The New Testament Authors as Interpreters
• “Scripture” for the New Testament writers was the Jewish scripture.
• “The primary focus of New Testament biblical interpretation is the belief that Jesus is God’s messiah, the agent
of God’s eschatological salvation” (NOAB, 2205).
• “Christian beliefs about Jesus are prior to the biblical passages produced to support them. The result, however,
is that many passages form the prophets and Psalms have become so embedded in the gospel narrative that
for the Christian imagination they are the story of Jesus” (NOAB, 2206).
“Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means,
God with us.
“Look, the young woman (virgin in Greek) is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.”
Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall
call his name Immanuel.
Therefore the Lord himself will give you[the Hebrew is plural] a sign: The virgin [or young woman] will
conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a [or maiden] virgin will be with child and bear a son,
and she will call His name Immanuel.
Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign. Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and his
name shall be called Emmanuel.
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