In honor of today’s blazingly stupid (and failed) rapture prediction by Harold Camping, I thought I’d coin a new term to use for Bible crackpottery. I can’t decide between two alternatives. I was actually hoping he’d be right since I’ve been grading (mostly poor) student papers since Friday night. “Lord, Jesus, come quickly.” My mind understandably drifted to this important matter.
Exegesis is, as many of you know, the term used by biblical scholars for the examination of the biblical text with respect to grammar, syntax, semantics, genre, and larger contextualization issues. It is a term that describes the effort to draw meaning “out of” (exe-) the text. Eisegesis is the opposite, as it refers to reading ideas and meanings “into” (eis-) the biblical text that aren’t there.
But eisegesis just doesn’t describe the kind of idiocy conveyed by Camping’s idea. The world needs something more precise. That brings me to my struggle. Here are my two alternatives:
1. “Bunkagesis” – the calculated fabrication of senseless twaddle from the biblical text.This term describes a gift for sustained suspension of right-thinking and proper methodology, with a flair for the ludicrous.
2. “Offalgesis” (or, “Fecalgesis“) – “Offal” describes the waste product of a process. It’s at times used as a polite word for human excrement. “Fecal” is of course more familiar in that regard. Offalgesis (or fecalgesis) therefore speaks to biblical interpretation that is essentially a hermeneutical turd, an interpretative bowel movement, if you will.
A tough decision, indeed.
Won’t you please help? I hope so. Please take this survey to vote for your favorite. I’ll leave this up for a week or so. Please tell a friend to vote!
Once we have a winner, I plan to take nominations annually for the dumbest piece of Bible interpretation each year.
Okay, back to the papers. I’m in a better mood now.