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I am familiar with the term ‘Exegesis’ and the term ‘Eisegesis’:

Exegesis – critical explanation or interpretation of a Bible text which looks for the plain meaning of the biblical passage and explains what the text is actually about.

Eisegesis – interpretation of a Bible text by reading one’s own ideas into it, making the biblical passage say pretty much whatever the interpreter wants it to say.

However, today I came across an entirely unfamiliar term – ‘Narcigesis’:

NARCIGESIS: From: narcissus; 1540–50; < Latin < Greek nárkissos plant name, traditionally connected, by virtue of plant’s narcotic effects, with nárkç numbness, torpor; probably from a pre-Gk. Aegean word, but associated with Gk. narke “numbness” (see narcotic) because of the plant’s sedative effect. From: eisegesis; 1890–95; < Greek eisḗgesis, equivalent to eis- into + ( h ) çge- (stem of hçgeîsthai to lead) + -sis -sis {C19: from Greek eisinto, in + -egesis, as in exegesis}.

What is Narcigesis as it applies to interpreting or explaining Scripture? An example or two would be helpful.

I found a a related question on Eisegesis but it does not deal with Narcigesis: Don't we need Biblically definitive eisegesis to Exegete properly?

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    It looks like a rarely used portmanteau - narcissistic-eisegesis. It's not actually a serious category of interpretation.
    – curiousdannii
    May 12 at 12:05
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    @Lesley I never heard of the word so I did a little research and found an explanation here. gotquestions.org/narcigesis.html I already knew what a portmanteau word is. It's a French word which means a suitcase. For example, it's the combining of two words to make one word. Breakfast and lunch are combined to get the word "brunch." Or smoke and fog is combined to get "smog." Learned something new today.
    – Mr. Bond
    May 12 at 13:18
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This was a new word and a new idea to me, but I found helpful information in this link: https://www.gotquestions.org/narcigesis.html It explains that Narcigesis is

“the explanation of the Bible in a way that shows excessive interest in oneself and prioritizes one’s own ideas… A person who interprets the passage as if it were all about him is practicing narcigesis.”

“Some people with egotistical tendencies end up being narcigetes. They view the Bible as mainly addressing their own life experiences. The Bible is all about them: every promise is for them, and every story is about them or their situation. Using narcigesis to interpret the story of David and Goliath, I become David. My self-esteem demands it. (In the story of David and Bathsheba, however, I stop being David and may be Nathan or Uriah instead.) In the battle of Jericho, I’m Joshua (never Achan). On the Sea of Galilee, I’m Peter walking on the water. And so on.”

Although this might appear to be a silly approach to interpreting scripture, it is potentially very serious as a subtle way to replace Jesus with oneself. Notice how the resurrected Christ explained to the disciples that the Scriptures foretold his death and resurrection, “And beginning with Moses and the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself” (Luke 24:7 & 25-27 & 44). Narcigesis effectively tries to pull Jesus down to the same level as the person commentating (if not for the person trying to appear to be more important than Jesus – as with claims of some to actually be Jesus.) Less overt interpretations than that can creep into biblical commentaries, and so on to sites like this one.

The nearest example of this that I can think of is some instances where Jesus is claimed to be no more than a perfect, sinless man who set the example for imperfect, sinful people to follow. The claim has been made by some that as he effectively earned God’s approval by obedience, so can I. Such people will be inclined to read about what Jesus did and said with a view to then examining their own lives and to work at becoming just like Jesus – but by their own efforts and understanding.

Now, those two paragraphs above are my own opinion, so I might rightly be accused of eisegesis in a general (though not a particular) sense. Yet nobody could accuse me of narcigesis because I am disagreeing with what I would see as a narcigetic application of Scripture to oneself.

This, I hope, shows the difference between narcigesis and eisegesis, which is a matter of personal interpretation without any thought of claiming, “This passage of Scripture points to me and my experiences.” All interpretations of Scripture will invite claims of eisegesis from those who disagree with that interpretation, but that is not the same as an individual standing up and claiming the verses were fulfilled in some details of his or her own life. The narcigetic will begin by pointing to Scripture and to Christ but then focussing all attention on himself, or herself. The commentary or explanation will edge Christ into the wings while the narcigetic will take center-stage.

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  • But God's promises are for us...and we should claim them as His personal promises to us individually. In fact, it is not possible to be saved on the merits of another, nor are we saved corporately, but individually. While I may share what I'm learning, if I don't learn for my own benefit, and listen to God's voice to me personally, what will I have to offer to anyone? -- I just think we need to be careful not to take things too far and to downplay the importance of a personal experience with God.
    – Polyhat
    May 12 at 13:47
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    @Polyhat – Yes, certainly the promises of God to his children are precious and believed. But this Q is not about “claiming” the promises of God; it’s about how the Scriptures can be interpreted by some as pointing to themselves when they actually point to Jesus. It’s about trying to elevate ones-self to either being equal to Jesus or a second coming of Jesus, personally (as with those throughout the centuries who have said “I am Jesus!” – the supreme example of an narcigetic, I would suggest).
    – Anne
    May 12 at 13:54
  • Your quote had this bit: "The Bible is all about them: every promise is for them, and every story is about them or their situation." But I rather like to think it my privilege, and even my duty, to claim God's promises as being specially for me. Maybe I'm a narcigete?
    – Polyhat
    May 12 at 13:57
  • @Polyhat - No, it was not my quote '[every promise is for them']. That was a quote from Got Questions. Perhaps they speak of an extreme reaction to biblical promises, seeking to apply them to themselves even when some might not apply to them? You could contact Got Questions to ask them for more details on that, if you wished.
    – Anne
    May 12 at 14:13

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