So, as I’m sure many of you notice, we are really, really bad at interpreting Scripture. We take verses out of context and apply them to any old situation that we see fit.
The good thing (or maybe the bad thing) is that it’s not just Christians who are really good at interpreting Scripture badly. Non-Christians are also really good at taking verses out of context and use them to make their point. (This actually cracks me up because they say they don’t believe the Bible as God’s word, but they will use it for their own purposes.)
So, I felt like it was time to have a few lessons in the practice of exegesis.
First, let’s explore what exegesis is. Exegesis is critical explanation or interpretation of a text, especially of scripture. Basically, it’s an in-depth explanation and interpretation of what the Bible, or any book or text, says.
Exegesis is extremely important when it comes to understanding the Bible. When we look at any verse or passage in the Bible, it is important that we look at the verse/passage in context. This means that we look at the chapter it is in, the verses immediately before and immediately after the verse/passage, and we consider some very important questions:
– Who wrote the text?
– Who was the text written to?
– Why was it written?
– When was it written?
– What is the cultural, historical context?
Many of my theologian friends will note that this sounds eerily like hermeneutics, but this is something different. For my non-theologian friends, hermeneutics are a series of rules for interpreting Scripture. Hermeneutics is not exegesis, but exegesis is applied hermeneutics, or rather, hermeneutics in action.
Got it? If not, that’s okay, because the difference between the two isn’t important for our study and practice. Rather, we need to understand how to understand the verses we look at and use the Bible itself to interpret the verse or passage.
For our material, we will be using a list of 20 verses that I discovered through George Takei’s Facebook page. The list can be found here. We won’t use all the verses, but we will focus on the ones that are clearly used without regard to any of the rules of interpretation of a text.
I will quickly note that I find it ironic that the post made by George Takei stated “For those who follow the Word to the letter–make sure you’re reading all the letters.” while the author of the article he promoted did not read all the letters before using a decent amount of the verses they used.
Stick around for this one, friends. It’s going to real fun up in here.