A comparatively modern term to describe, disapprovingly, a piece of scholarship which appears to find in a given text a significance alien to its context. This might be to provide biblical support for a doctrinal position already held. The term was coined (from the Greek eis, in, and egeisthai, to guide) as the opposite of exegesis (Greek ek), which means an elucidation of.
An example of eisegesis is when theologians holding a theory about Christian initiation argued for supporting evidence in the gospels. It was suggested that baptism both effects forgiveness of sins and imparts the gift of the Spirit, but that this rite became split into two parts, i.e. baptism in water soon after birth and the laying on of hands (episcopal confirmation) at a later date but equally essential to the wholeness of the rite. It was suggested that the two parts of the rite were anticipated at the baptism of Jesus: first the baptism in the river (Mark 1: 9), followed as a second constituent of the rite by the descent of the Spirit (Mark 1: 10).
Subjects: Biblical Studies.