“The student’s exegesis went above – and beyond – the confines of the assignment.”

What is the best definition of exegesis?

Check your answer!

Choice A - An external examination of an artifact
Choice B - A thorough critical explication of a text
Choice C - Remarks written after a work’s initial publication
Choice D - A complete investigation into the origins of a group


Exegesis (noun) – an in-depth critical examination (particularly of a text); an explanation or clarification of a particular reading    

Exegetic (adjective) – intended to explain or describe something (particularly in prose form): explanatory or expository  

GRE pro tips:

For centuries, theological scholars have sought to interpret the meanings of sacred texts, such as the Judeo-Christian Bible. Historically, such a scholar might dedicate a lifetime to conducting what was called an exegesis – an in-depth critical examination (typically of a text) – to explain or clarify the meaning of various biblical passages. Almost all world religions have such holy texts, as well as authorities who prepare exegeses in order to elucidate particular interpretations of them.

These days, an exegesis is no longer associated primarily with the Bible – academic writers interpret all sorts of texts. A doctoral candidate’s dissertation, for example, might be an exegesis on an author’s complete works. Likewise, a political scientist might choose to closely examine the documents underpinning a specific form of government. Maybe you can remember that an exegesis is like an extra long thesis.

Example sentences:

“Our professor’s exegesis on the biblical allusions in Shakespeare’s plays was illuminating for many students.”

“My husband loved nothing more than launching into a literary exegesis right before bedtime – it would be endearing were it not so poorly-timed.”