Wednesday, October 26, 2016

"Eisegete or Exegete?"

Hebrews 9.19-20 NASU

“For when every commandment had been spoken by Moses to all the people according to the Law, he took the blood of the calves and the goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, ‘This is the blood of the covenant which God commanded you.’”

When my oldest child was about 2 years old she made her first attempt at reading. It was a comical episode in her young life. Christina proudly positioned her book on her lap, as she’d often seen others do, cleared her throat, and began talking to the book! She modeled exactly what (she thought) big people did when they read… pick up a book, open it, and talk to the words on the page! Though she did not know it, Christina was pretending to read.

Today Christina is a successful C.P.A. and a wonderful mother. She is well educated and definitely knows how to read! But at age 2, Christina did not yet grasp the concept.

Moses knew how to read and write. He fully grasped the concept. According to Acts 7.22, Moses was a literate and well educated Hebrew. “Moses wrote down all the words of the Lord” (Exodus 24.4) in a document he called “the Book of the Covenant”. Moses served as a scribe and a spokesman for the Lord’s message. He was a divine mouthpiece, a true and honest reader and communicator of God’s word

A true reader allows the words of the book to make their intended impact. A pretend reader imposes his own thoughts upon the text. 

Moses sprinkled blood on “both the book itself and all the people” in an ancient ritual symbolically sealing the terms of the relationship between the book’s Author (God) and the book’s audience (Moses and the ancient Hebrews). Moses “took the Book of the Covenant and read it to the people” (Exodus 24.7). He did not talk to the words by interpreting them through the filter of his own limited understanding. He simply read God’s word and let it speak for itself.

A new and permanent covenant relationship exists between the Lord and all honest Bible readers who refuse to impose their own ideas upon its content. We, the people of the Book, must allow the Author of the Book to define the terms of the relationship by the “blood of the covenant” that binds us.

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Note on the Title: Exegesis literally means “to draw the meaning out of” a given text. Eisegesis, by contrast, is the practice of reading one's own interpretation into a text. An exegete makes every attempt to view the text objectively, while an eisegete replaces the clear and most obvious meaning of a passage with subjective opinion.

The painting above is entitled "Reading Young Man" by famous Romanian painter Ignat Bednarik (1882-1963). He suffered from progressive blindness beginning at about the age of 56 until his death. Discover his beautiful art at http://www.bednarik.non-profit.nl/index.htm.

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