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Are Biblical exegeses evil?

Bible majors at Pensacola Christian College, my alma mater, had to do an exegesis sometime during their course of study. I suspect this is standard operating procedure for other Bible/Christian colleges in their ministerial programs.

But is it the right thing to do?

Someone mentioned recently the late Dr. Jack Hyles, longtime pastor of Hammond, Ind.’s First Baptist Church, was against doing exegesis and felt instead that more focus should be put on preaching.

There are people who will be in heaven because Dr. Hyles’ ministry: while I disagree with aspects of Dr. Hyles’ ministry, I have no doubt he was still used by God. That being said, I must respectfully disagree with him.

Preaching is a great thing, but I think pastors do a great disservice to their congregation by not teaching also.

As a writer, I’ve done a series of columns on Ecclesiastes. It started off as a general overview but turned into a layperson’s exegesis as I wanted to really dig into what this Old Testament book about happiness and how to find it really said.

We were created in God’s image, and I think one thing God expects us to do is study. Especially when you consider that while some of us love the King James Bible (or New American Standard, New International Version or New Century Version), it may shock some of you to realize that English is not the Bible’s original language. The Old Testament was written in Hebrew with a little Chaldean/Aramaic while the New Testament was written in Greek.

I can’t speak for everybody, but fewer things in life frustrate me more than reading a passage of scripture and being unable to understand what it says. Sometimes understanding it is as simple as understanding Bible customs at the time. Other times, it can be as simple as reading a commentary on the passage. And yet for others, pulling out a concordance and reading what the original Hebrew or Greek word was.

It’s especially important to do, especially when you consider translating can be a tricky business at times.

So, to summarize, not only are exegeses not evil, they can be essential to better understanding the Bible.

  1. Matthew Sutton
    September 23, 2009 at 8:46 pm

    I loved this blog and totally understand it. I remember the last exegesis i did was 52 pages. Funny thing is I read it a few years ago, and pitched it because i totally disagreed with what i had written.

    I visited PCC once after graduating. I think it was 2002. I had taken a group of kids down for College Days, and sat in on a Greek class with Dr. Barnhart my old college professor. When he asked me what i was now doing, and i told him at the time i was a restuarant manager, i still remember the crestfallen look on his face. I wonder if he felt bad after having spent so much energy on it. I do remember those days.

    Depending on what your looking for i think i can point you in the right direction. Let’s correspond via the inbox and i can make a couple of suggestions to you, you can choose which you like, in an effort to help enrich your study. For me, it’s the best in the world – learning the customs and different interpretations 🙂 I just now started picking up and reviewing Greek – thinking of starting a bible study here in the house. But get this – it will be completely in Spanish – talk about trusting God and really having to know what you are talking about.

    You’re right – exegesis aren’t evil. In fact, i stop and think sometimes of how many resources we have available to us as Christians, and yet so many are ignorant of the Bible and what is has to say. It is so rich . . .

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