Sunday, October 07, 2007

My Concept of Exegesis

Exegesis is beyond a shadow of all reasonable doubts, one of the most important concepts to grasp, for its supreme worth in what I will call theological fundamentals, and philosophical particulars. By theological fundamentals, I mean one’s own fundamental understanding of biblical truth, and that truth as related primarily to God, and His teachings, specifically those teachings that apply directly to His person and plan for mankind. By philosophical particulars, I intend to mean, that conceptual frameworking for living out one’s fundamental theological understanding of God & His teaching. Making a distinction between “essentials” of “the faith”, and a philosophical outworking of those “essentials”, which distinguish men, movements, and traditions while keeping a knitted thread of theology in consensus. Perhaps the phrase “unity & diversity” would help one understand my latter emphasis.

Exegesis to me then, is both a passion of pleasure (much like a hobby), and a reverential undertaking that demands toil and sweat. I tread on its ground with both fear & trembling, and blissful enjoyment. Without belaboring here all the different points of what exegesis is, I will propose two dimensions that I discern as invaluable to its task, which are science and art. Simply stated, the goal of exegesis is: a re-creation of a historical setting, so to arrive at a meaningful understanding of a portion of text, between an original author and that author’s intended audience. It is both an art and science. By stressing science, I mean a knowledge that comes through a rigorous research of data, from diverse fields of discipline. Whether those disciplines are social, geographical, political, grammatical fields, etc., one must commit to the pain of informing himself/herself at all costs to gain a proper familiarity of a foreign world, i.e. a culture and period of time long ago. Without this, there is no ground for assessing any material accurately for a fundamental theology or philosophical particulars. As well as a science, exegesis is also an art. By art I propose simply the ability or skill to apply and analyze that data one retrieves from the prowess of study/research. It is science, which gains facts; it is art, which creates life, and adds nuance and sentiment to scripture. It is art, which utilizes the information gained and allows you to visit the world of the past. It is something like a screenplay or movie, exegesis seeks to put into motion the story of scripture and accurately display a narrative. Whether that is the drama of the exodus, or Paul the Apostle, shut up in dungeon, seeking to encourage the churches he planted. In conclusion, exegesis should bring near the distant world of the O.T. and N.T. to help us realize their significance in forming and shaping what I called above: theological fundamentals, and philosophical particulars.

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