From: Carl W. Conrad (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Thu Sep 10 1998 - 13:03:11 EDT
At 11:18 AM -0500 9/10/98, email@example.com wrote:
>I searched the archives and found nothing on eisegesis itself, but
>simply its usage as a pejorative.
>I am utterly unschooled in this term, and when Carl used the term
>epexegesis a few days ago, I felt it was time to give my brain a stir.
>Exegesis seems to come from John 1:18, referring to an action that can
>only be undertaken by someone having certain qualities [being 'into
>the breast of the father' etc.], and yet it seems to have acquired
>another meaning in the schools. It seems to be used in
>contradistinction to eisegesis, which is always a huge no-no, and
>relates somewhat favorably with epegesis. So far, I really have only
>a boo-hurrah understanding of these terms, plus the idea that exegesis
>is somehow objectively provable by reference to the text, and
>eisegesis is some kind of subjective interpretation of the text.
>[Plus the idea in John 1:18 of 'leading forth with authority'.]
>Does anyone have an objective definition of these terms? Are they
>derived and/or found in the GNT? Are there other '-egesai'?
>[subegesis, hyperegesis, antegesis, prosegesis, etc. come to mind.]
Let me try to absolve myself of as much blame as I can here. I don't really
think that "eisegesis" and "exegesis" as used in a hermeneutic sense are
either of them very CLOSELY linked to any ancient usage of the verbs,
although ONE of the meanings of EXHGEOMAI is "interpret." "Interpret" is
not quite the whole sense of the verb EXHGHSATO in John 1:18.
hHGEOMAI means "lead." In the right context it may mean, "draw a
conclusion" or "bring out what is implied"--and this, I take it, is the
basic sense of EXHGEOMAI when it means "interpret" and when we use the
hermeneutical term "exegesis" for interpretation of scripture (or even of a
literary work or passage). "Eisegesis," on the other hand, is indeed a
pejorative term, generally implying that one is "importing" into the
interpretation of a text notions that are no more obviously present in the
text that the persons or things that one fancifully sees in cloud
formations are really present within them.
Finally, "EPEXEGETIC" as a grammatical term simply means "explanatory."
Some grammarians refer to the usage of some grammatical constructions as
having an idiomatic force to "explain" what has preceded it. In Greek
grammar we sometimes speak of an "epexegetical infinitive" to characterize
the usage of an infinite to help make clear how an adjective is being used.
The other day Paul Dixon was asking about "epexegetical KAI" in Mark
6:2--you might consult Paul's question and my answer (apart from the
baseball discussion) to that one. Quite frankly, I think we'd all be better
off if we referred to an "explanatory KAI" and "explanatory infinitive"
rather than stick that terrible word "epexegetical" onto these idiomatic
At any rate, "epexegetic/al" is not in the same category as "exegesis" and
"eisegesis." Now, whether this is sufficient explanation, I don't know. But
it's an attempt, at least, at clarification (which is to say, an attempt to
Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649
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