Thursday, March 28, 2013

Toward a Theology of Eisegesis

In 1981 Walter Kaiser's book, Toward an Exegetical Theology, came out. It was a welcome book. It cost $9.95 back then.

Before proceeding, I must put forth a warning. What I am about to say/write may send the hunters of hermeneutical heretics out there to the grocery story – to buy leftovers – to buy the really rotten leftover tomatoes and eggs. And those would only be the mild, wanna-be, effeminate heretic hunters. The really professionals – those heretic hunters who reload their own ammo will be headed for the wood pile. They'll be gathering wood and bringing cans of lighter fluid and matches. And since I am not really that fond of rotten tomatoes and eggs, and even less of the kind of heat the real hunters are intent on producing, I beg for understanding. And just to be certain, I've changed our address, phone number, email address, and grown a beard.

Kaiser wrote his book to fill a gap – "a gap that has existed between the study of the Biblical text (most frequently in the original languages of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek) and the actual delivery of messages to God's people." He was right. And his book went a long way to fill that gap.

I bring to our attention another gap – a gap equal in importance to the hermeneutical world of Biblical interpretation as Kaiser's work. This is a gap that has existed between the knowledge of the interpreter's tacit set of biased core assumptions and the study of the Biblical texts. As you can see, this gap is prior to Kaiser's. It is the gap of appropriate attention to eisegesis (reading into a text based on prior presuppositions). Wait! Before you light the match! I am calling for a new book – perhaps with the title, Toward a Theology of Eisegesis. The point would not be to incinerate. The point would not be to argue for eisegesis as a valid hermeneutical methodology. The point would be to bring eisegesis in from the proverbial hermeneutic woodshed and set it down at the discussion table. The point would be to recognize the universal presence of bias in all interpretation and to therefore present sound (biblical) principles of eisegesis. It seems that for too long we have given the academic nod to the presence of interpretive bias (everyone acknowledges it exists) but then we have simply proceeded to extol on the rules of exegesis as though our acknowledgement and such rules would be sufficient to overwhelm the bulk of bias.

So, look for the book. It may take a decade to find a publisher. The price? If you're caught buying the book, it'll likely cost you your life.

1 comment:

  1. I think it goes beyond a book, and maybe will require the addition of woodsheds to universities and divinity programs throughout the world. Eisegesis and exegesis- two inseparable companions, we think!