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What does the word ‘exegetical’ mean?

The word ‘exegetical’ is an adjective derived from the noun ‘exegesis.’ Exegesis has to do with interpretation, coming from the Greek terms, EX = ‘out of’ and HEGEOMAI=‘to lead.’ Originally, the notion of the Greek verb was ‘to lead out,’ then through usage took on the meaning of ‘lead out the proper meaning’ of a text—thus, interpret. Exegesis is thus used today of the detailed interpretation of a passage, involving an examination of the original language among other things.

The adjective ‘exegetical’ means ‘interpretive,’ but usually connotes something more than mere interpretation. It implies an interpretation that at least attempts to be based on the meaning originally intended by the author (thus, for example, one cannot dismiss a person’s exegesis of a given passage by simply saying, “That’s just your interpretation,” for the very attempt at exegesis usually implies that some serious work in grappling with the author’s usage, style, the context, lexical terms, syntax, and historical background have taken place).

Related Topics: Textual Criticism, Bible Study Methods, Christian Education, Terms & Definitions