Exegesis is the critical interpretation of a Biblical text. The purpose of exegesis is to discover the meaning of a text.
The process of exegesis - that is, the critical components in exegesis - typically involve the following:
- Observation of grammatical features
- Syntactical analysis
- Key word studies
- Identification of the literary genre
- Examination of the context
- Investigation into textual criticism, and
- Studies of relevant historical and cultural background
All of these aspects are employed in order to approach the author's intent and therefore discover the meaning of the text. While exegesis often refers to the study of the text in the original Greek and Hebrew languages, it also refers to the study of the text through translations such as English.
Sometimes exegesis is used synonymously with hermeneutics. However hermeneutics is the broad category, while exegesis is one of two aspects within hermeneutics. The other aspect within hermeneutics is contextualization (or significance). The Christian's hermeneutical approach then is to first use exegesis to discover the meaning of the text and then contextualize the significance of that text to the present. In other words, observations of the text should lead to uncovering the meaning and significance of the text, which should then lead to a number of applications of the text.