Eisegesis and the Gospel Writers

I have been preparing for some pre-seminary exams and one of them will be on the Gospels and Acts. As I have been reading and thinking about the writing of the Gospels, especially in light of my hermeneutics training, I have come to think at length about the human-ness of the Gospels. We have four Gospels, all of which are different, and all of which have different emphases. And yet, all of them had essentially the same starting place – the kerygma, the early proclamation of Christians, namely the good news of Jesus Christ. None of them wrote during the life of Jesus. They all wrote after the fact, after Jesus had risen from the dead. After Jesus proved himself to be the Messiah. And knowing this, knowing the kerygma that Jesus is Lord and Savior, how much of the Gospels are affected by this kerygma? Or is this even a worthwhile question? Yes, they may be playing with different literary tools, but wouldn’t this also allow them to read more into the actual events of Christ’s life? If they would have written during the life of Jesus rather than after the life of Jesus, would Jesus appear to be more human?

Which leads me to eisegesis. Eisegesis is something, as I have been taught, to be avoided. Eisegesis is when we interpret something into the text that isn’t there. We bring something to the text andĀ interpret in light of that something. Were the Gospel writers guilty of this? Were they not all trying to get their agenda across all the while giving the theological biography of Jesus? They all brought something to the text, their own backgrounds, their own theological leanings . . . these must have had some effect on the Gospels themselves. Is eisegesis as bad as we make it to be? Is there some relationship between eisegesis and subjectivism in comparison to exegesis and objectivism? Whenever we try to interpret the Bible to preach on something, we are bringing something to the text. We can interpret as objectively as possible, but we also bring the lives of the parishioners into a collision course. And the result is a subjective interpretation that speaks into people’s lives.

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