Guide to Literary Terms

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Exegesis

Exegesis - a critical interpretation and explanation of a literary work, but usually applied to an analysis of an unusually difficult passage in poetry or prose. Exegesis refers especially to the interpretation and explanation of a selection from the Bible.

The word comes directly from the Greek and evolved from exegeesthai, meaning “to explain.” That term was formed by combining ex, meaning” out,” and hegeesthai, meaning “to guide.”

In Roman times, exegetes were professional and official interpreters of charms, omens, dreams, sacred law, and oracular pronouncements.