Insights: The Newsletter of the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship


text, scriptures, Book of Mormon, Nephi


There are two ways to read a text, through exegesis and through eisegesis. The first means, approximately, “reading out of the text,” while the second means, approximately, “reading into the text.” Both are legitimate ways of approaching a text. Anyone who reads the scriptures will at times engage in both exegesis and eisegesis, whether knowingly or unwittingly. Therefore, the more conscientiously and consciously we engage in rigorous and careful exegesis and eisegesis, the better the chance that our reading of the scriptures will truly enlighten the mind and provide substance for the soul. I will illustrate both approaches using the term familiar spirit found in 2 Nephi 26:12, Isaiah 29:4, and 1 Samuel 28.