ex·​e·​ge·​sis | \ ˌek-sə-ˈjē-səs How to pronounce exegesis (audio) , ˈek-sə-ˌjē- \
plural exegeses\ ˌek-​sə-​ˈjē-​(ˌ)sēz How to pronounce exegesis (audio) , ˈek-​sə-​ˌjē-​ \

Definition of exegesis

: exposition, explanation … politicians accustomed to speaking in 20-second sound bites suddenly began regaling (empty) galleries with windy, tendentious exegeses of the Founding Fathers' thoughts on the role of the Senate in confirming judges.— Jacob Weisberg especially : an explanation or critical interpretation of a text As an exegesis, though, it's nicely done, and Kennedy traces Sontag's main themes deftly along tortuous paths through both essays and fiction. — Larissa MacFarquhar

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Theological scholars have long been preoccupied with interpreting the meanings of various passages in the Bible. In fact, because of the sacred status of the Bible in both Judaism and Christianity, biblical interpretation has played a crucial role in both of those religions throughout their histories. English speakers have used the word exegesis - a descendant of the Greek term exegeisthai, meaning "to explain" or "to interpret" - to refer to explanations of Scripture since the early 17th century. Nowadays, however, academic writers interpret all sorts of texts, and "exegesis" is no longer associated mainly with the Bible.

Examples of exegesis in a Sentence

a psychobiography that purports to be the definitive exegesis of the late president's character
Recent Examples on the Web Patristic exegesis comprises all the more or less allegorical methods by which St. Augustine and other church fathers interpreted the Bible. Washington Post, 25 Aug. 2021 With all respect to any rabid Fall fan, Smith’s voice really does demand a little exegesis. Washington Post, 16 July 2021 Such a body of writing more closely resembles Talmudic exegesis than literary criticism. Alex Traub, New York Times, 8 June 2021 What has been excised from this new edition is Shelton’s album-by-album commentary, and the lengthy exegesis on Dylan as poet, which drew extensively on the emerging field of Dylan studies taking root on American campuses during the seventies. Billboard Staff, Billboard, 24 May 2021 He has also, it should be pointed out, been incredibly keen to throw in all manner of curveballs to confuse and confound the extraordinary levels of exegesis that have been applied to his work. Eamonn Forde, Forbes, 13 May 2021 Curator Aimee Ng’s exegesis of Agnolo Bronzino’s icily elegant 1550-55 portrait of Ludovico Capponi, which the curator recounted while sipping on an Aperol spritz, a classic Italian cocktail. Steven Litt, cleveland, 17 Jan. 2021 How this works — and how the book’s characteristic style of accessible, philosophical exegesis proceeds — can be seen in Scruton’s discussion of the Christian symbolism and ritual that permeates Parsifal. Barnaby Crowcroft, National Review, 26 Dec. 2020 Boyhood memories of staring at a bee exit onto a few words about the Instagram page of Omar Sharif Jr.; an exegesis on Austrian painter Egon Schiele’s wife wanders off into Koestenbaum’s first colonoscopy. Mina Tavakoli, Washington Post, 11 May 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'exegesis.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of exegesis

1627, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for exegesis

New Latin, from Greek exēgēsis, from exēgeisthai to explain, interpret, from ex- + hēgeisthai to lead — more at seek

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The first known use of exegesis was in 1627

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Last Updated

6 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Exegesis.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/exegesis. Accessed 24 Sep. 2021.

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More from Merriam-Webster on exegesis

Britannica English: Translation of exegesis for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about exegesis


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