Phenomenology Online

A Resource for Phenomenological Inquiry

Exegetical reflection

Exegetical reflection involves the critical, sensitive, and creative reading of related texts


Exegetical reflection is the careful studying of related texts in search for insights or perspectives that may further your research. But exegetical reflection is more than a systematic review of the available literature. Some exegetical reflection is prompted precisely because we happen to stumble over something that we had not foreseen or expected. Sometimes we gain surprisingly profound insights in the most unlikely sources or in the most contingent situations. While searching for one particular book in the library or the bookstore, the title of another book catches my attention. I peruse the book, and a passage in it gives me an entirely new insight into the material that has been preoccupying me in my research project. While waiting in the doctor’s office I read an article about an unrelated matter; but this article gives me a new way of looking at my research question. Or as I listen to the radio, a story told by someone interviewed gives me a wonderful example of a situation that I have been wondering about for my paper.


By remaining open to unexpected sources of insight, exegetical reflection becomes a process of reading and studying related and unrelated literature for background information, helpful insights, other ways of looking at a question, or new understandings. Sometimes this reading is critical in examining other views or approaches. At other times this reading is more metaphoric, involving the use of insights gained in one situation towards a new interpretation of another.