“Exegesis does not mean mastering the text, it means submitting to it as it is given to us. Exegesis doesn’t take charge of the text and impose superior knowledge on it; it enters the world of the text and lets the text ‘read’ us. Exegesis is an act of sustained humility.”
–Eugene Peterson, Eat This Book: A Conversation in the Art of Spiritual Reading (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2006), 57.
“Too many Bible readers assume that exegesis is what you do after you have learned Greek and Hebrew. That’s simply not true. Exegesis is nothing more than a careful and loving reading of the text in our mother tongue. Greek and Hebrew are well worth learning, but if you haven’t had the privilege, settle for English.
Once we learn to love this text and bring a disciplined intelligence to it, we won’t be far behind the very best Greek and Hebrew scholars. Appreciate the learned Scripture scholars, but don’t be intimidated by them.
Exegesis is the furthest thing from pedantry; exegesis is an act of love. It loves the one who speaks the words enough to want to get the words right. It respects the words enough to use every means we have to get the words right. Exegesis is loving God enough to stop and listen carefully to what He says.
It follows that we bring the leisure and attentiveness of lovers to this text, cherishing every comma and semicolon, relishing the oddness of the preposition, delighting in the surprising placement of this noun. Lovers don’t take a quick look, get a ‘message’ or a ‘meaning,’ then run off and talk endlessly with their friends about how they feel.”
–Eugene Peterson, Eat This Book: A Conversation in the Art of Spiritual Reading (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2006), 55.
“We are fond of saying that the Bible has all the answers. And that is certainly correct. The text of the Bible sets us in a reality that is congruent with who we are as created beings in God’s image and what we are destined for in the purposes of Christ. But the Bible also has all the questions, many of them that we would just as soon were never asked of us, and some of which we will spend the rest of our lives doing our best to dodge.
The Bible is a most comforting book; it is also a most discomfiting book. Eat this book; it will be sweet as honey in your mouth; but it will also be bitter to your stomach. You can’t reduce this book to what you can handle; you can’t domesticate this book to what you are comfortable with. You can’t make it your toy poodle, trained to respond to your commands.
This books makes us participants in the world of God’s being and action; but we don’t participate on our own terms. We don’t get to make up the plot or decide what character we will be. Eat this book, but also have a well-stocked cupboard of Alka-seltzer and Pepto-Bismal at hand.”
–Eugene Peterson, Eat This Book: A Conversation in the Art of Spiritual Reading (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2006), 66.
“If Holy Scripture is to be something other than mere gossip about God, it must be internalized.”
–Eugene Peterson, Eat This Book: A Conversation in the Art of Spiritual Reading (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2006), 20.
“Is it not significant that the biblical prophets and psalmists were all poets? It is a continuing curiosity that so many pastors, whose work integrates the prophetic and psalmic (preaching and praying), are indifferent to poets. In reading poets, I find congenial allies in the world of words. In writing poems, I find myself practicing my pastoral craft in a biblical way.”
–Eugene Peterson, The Contemplative Pastor (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1993), 156.
“Prayer takes place in the middle voice.”
–Eugene H. Peterson, The Contemplative Pastor (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1993), 104.