ayjay + interpretation   12

Why there's no such thing as non-anachronistic interpretation, and it's a good thing too: reflections occasioned by Wesley Hill's <i>Paul and the Trinity</i>
Fifth, the most important reason why historical-critical reading is essentially anachronistic is the way that it uses—quite explicitly and without apology—resources outside the text, resources foreign to the text's original audience, as a means of interpreting the text. Examples are obvious: monographs and articles, concepts created long after the text's composition, archeological findings, data regarding life and neighboring cultures prior to and contemporaneous with the text's original setting. Historical-critical exegesis often proposes readings of ancient religious texts (say, Genesis 1) that would have been impossible in the original context, because no one at the time had, or could have had, the kind of comprehensive knowledge about their own time and place that we have since amassed. (It is worth noting that this exegetical procedure is not different in kind than reading Genesis 1 in light of the doctrine of creation ex nihilo, or scientific theories about the origins of the universe.) In a manner of speaking, the best historical-critical interpretations are self-consciously maximalist in just this way: they are so exhaustive in searching out every possible detail, contour, allusion, and influence that such an interpretation in the text's original setting would have been unthinkable—indeed, no such interpretation would have been possible until now, this very moment in time. Undertaken in that sort of self-conscious way, anachronism would be welcomed and readily admitted as the very occasion and goal of historical reading.
bible  interpretation  from instapaper
4 weeks ago by ayjay
When Allegorical Exegesis Wins | Blog | Think Theology
The issue of Nicene orthodoxy is that here you have a tradition, grounded in exegesis that has persisted for 1500 years, and it has resulted in a stable, Trinitarian and Christological set of doctrines that undergird the faith, that have been embraced by all kinds of different traditions: Eastern, Western, first world, third world, Pentecostal, Catholic, Orthodox, Baptist. And on the other hand you have what you get when you go to SBL. You get all these different groups meeting in different rooms, using different methodologies, coming to different conclusions; nobody knows what the Bible is about as a whole; nobody agrees on exegetical matters.

So isn’t it ironic that the supposedly subjective method of allegory, that allows you to read anything you want into the text, results in a stable, unified tradition that is coherent and enduring—and on the other hand the scientific, objective method that rescues you from the hopelessly subjective method of allegorising, results in a completely fragmented set of traditions that don’t interact with each other, that don’t cohere in any meaningful way, and can’t tell you what the Bible means at all? Obviously there’s something very wrong here.
bible  interpretation 
october 2018 by ayjay
i would take the ‘not critical enough’ gesture in a different direction. That is, the prevalent historical interpretive discourse persists in treating the most recent historical interpretations as self-evidently ‘true’ or ‘correct’. But if we have any historical awareness at all, we recognise that today’s self-evidently true conclusions are tomorrow’s risibly out-dated error. The biblical interpretation indistry invests contemporary historical discernment with an authority incommensurate with its inevitable transience. Miracle stories may be accurate or not, but the restless necessity that interpretive judgement keep changing is a matter that any casual observer can verify.
bible  interpretation 
october 2017 by ayjay
Hays on metalepsis
Allusive echo can often function as a diachronic trope to which [John] Hollander applies the name of *transumption*, or *metalepsis*. When a literary echo links the text in which it occurs to an earlier text, the figurative effect of the echo can lie in the unstated or suppressed (transumed) points of resonance between the two texts.... Hollander sums up in a compact formula the demand that this sort of effect places upon criticism: “the interpretation of a metalepsis entails the recovery of the transumed material.” Allusive echo functions to suggest to the reader that text B should be understood in light of a broad interplay with text A, encompassing aspects of A beyond those explicitly echoed. This sort of metaleptic figuration is the antithesis of the metaphysical conceit, in which the poet’s imagination seizes a metaphor and explicitly wrings out of it all manner of unforeseeable significations. Metalepsis, by contrast, places the reader within a field of whispered or unstated correspondences. In the pages that follow, we will see that Paul’s echoes of Scripture repeatedly bring the trope of metalepsis into play.
bible  interpretation  from notes
november 2016 by ayjay
Homosexuality & The Church | Commonweal Magazine
I have little patience with efforts to make Scripture say something other than what it says, through appeals to linguistic or cultural subtleties. The exegetical situation is straightforward: we know what the text says. But what are we to do with what the text says? We must state our grounds for standing in tension with the clear commands of Scripture, and include in those grounds some basis in Scripture itself. To avoid this task is to put ourselves in the very position that others insist we already occupy—that of liberal despisers of the tradition and of the church’s sacred writings, people who have no care for the shared symbols that define us as Christian. If we see ourselves as liberal, then we must be liberal in the name of the gospel, and not, as so often has been the case, liberal despite the gospel.

I think it important to state clearly that we do, in fact, reject the straightforward commands of Scripture, and appeal instead to another authority when we declare that same-sex unions can be holy and good. And what exactly is that authority? We appeal explicitly to the weight of our own experience and the experience thousands of others have witnessed to, which tells us that to claim our own sexual orientation is in fact to accept the way in which God has created us. By so doing, we explicitly reject as well the premises of the scriptural statements condemning homosexuality—namely, that it is a vice freely chosen, a symptom of human corruption, and disobedience to God’s created order.
sexuality  theology  bible  interpretation  Christianity 
october 2016 by ayjay
writing in the dust: [How should we] respond to the charge of...
[How should we] respond to the charge of arbitrariness, commonly made in the direction of spiritual exegesis[?] The accusation usually ignores the remarkable similarities in the exegesis of premodern theologians…. This is something we would hardly expect if allegorizing were mostly an arbitrary exercise. Indeed, I am convinced that most Christian use of allegory is anything but arbitrary. It is typically christologically grounded, and theological considerations… determine the appropriateness of its use. As a result, there tends to be a great deal more similarity in exegetical outcome among advocates of spiritual interpretation than among those who restrict themselves to literal or historical exegetical methods. Once a common theological starting point no longer enters into the exegetical practice, exegesis inevitably becomes dependent on the insights of individual historians. And experience teaches that these insights tend to vary more than the interpretations of those who consciously stand in line with the christological exegesis of the great tradition of the church.
bible  interpretation  theology 
august 2016 by ayjay
Richard Posner clarifies his views on the Constitution.
But the vagueness of the original Constitution and Bill of Rights, both being 18th-century creations, limits the ability of modern judges to derive results in modern constitutional cases from the text of the original Constitution and Bill of Rights, and indeed from many of the later amendments to the Constitution as well, such as the 14th Amendment with its much-debated Due Process, Equal Protection, and Privileges and Immunities clauses. The framers of the Constitution were very intelligent and experienced, but they could no more foresee conditions in the 21st century than we can foresee conditions in the 23rd century. So the choice for the modern judge is: dismiss the bulk of the Constitution as nonjusticiable because it doesn't address modern problems, or decide many constitutional cases by broad interpretation of the Constitution's vague provisions, recognizing that interpretation so understood is not what we usually understand by the word. If I say "I understand what you just said," it means that you have successfully communicated to me some idea or proposal, or what have you. But the framers of the Constitution cannot communicate with us regarding issues that they deliberately left vague, probably because they couldn't agree on how or whether the text of the Constitution resolved the issues. (We know about these differences from the debates between the Federalists and Thomas Jefferson’s Democratic-Republican Party during the early years of the new nation.) Today’s judges are left to do the best they can, within the boundaries they perceive in phrases such as "due process," or "cruel or unusual." Their efforts in the aggregate create "constitutional law" based on what is sometimes called the "living Constitution."
law  interpretation 
july 2016 by ayjay
Marriage and the Matthean Jesus: A First Response to John Martens | Catholic World Report - Global Church news and views
Taking the Church’s teaching on Scripture seriously means situating historical criticism within a broader theory of Catholic interpretation functioning within the broad boundaries of Catholic faith and practice. For Catholics, the tradition of interpreting Scripture for its four senses, the three spiritual senses of allegory, tropology, and anagogy being rooted in the letter, remains normative, implied in Dei Verbum 12 and codified in the Catechism (109-119). At best, historical criticism is an exercise in prolegomena that helps us establish and understand the letter.

Like scholars as diverse as Brevard Childs (a conservative mainline Protestant), Luke Timothy Johnson (a liberal postliberal Catholic), and Walter Wink (a radical who famously claimed historical scholarship is "bankrupt"), I came to find the assumptions, methods, and results of modern historical-critical scholarship, rooted in the heyday of nineteenth century Protestant liberalism—for all its erudition and accomplishments—to be hoary and shopworn on one hand and lethal to Christian faith on the other, and had to cross the desert of criticism from liberal Protestantism through evangelicalism to the blessed second naïveté of Catholicism to find my own footing. And not merely as an existential matter for the sake of my own faith but as a Christian scholar and teacher whose faith and profession requires seeking the rich, contoured coherence of Scripture within the framework of the Faith, the story of salvation history.
bible  interpretation 
november 2015 by ayjay
Leroy Huizenga on Allegorical Interpretation
Louth’s article is entitled “Return to Allegory” for a reason, and since its publication thirty years ago, theologians and ecclesially-minded exegetes have developed a renewed appreciation for the historical practice of allegorical reading (allegoresis) and the possibilities it may afford for the present as they have ever more endeavored to reclaim the Bible as the Church’s Scripture and develop substantive theological exegesis for the present day. The reasons largely concern both postmodern and postliberal turns in the humanities and theology, after which modern disdain for the past is considered a conceit and social location within a tradition taken as truism, as well as the failure of the so-called historical-critical method to deliver much of relevance or substance for the contemporary Christian life.

My thesis is as follows: Reading for the spiritual senses of Scripture, commonly called “allegory,” is a natural and normal way to read religious texts, is seen in the biblical texts themselves as well as premodern tradition, and is for Catholics affirmed by contemporary authorities from the Second Vatican Council to the present. Before discussing particular biblical texts and the tradition of spiritual interpretation in detail, two preliminary questions require attention. What, really, is “allegory”? And further, why has the Church engaged in it since its earliest days?
bible  interpretation 
november 2015 by ayjay
King v. Burwell and the Law | National Review Online
In effect, this is a version of the president’s argument: Obamacare is not so much a particular law as an overarching desire “to improve health insurance markets” and so if at all possible it should be taken to mean whatever one believes would be involved in doing so. From the beginning of its implementation of this statute, that Obama administration has treated the words of the statute as far less relevant than the general aim of doing what it thinks would improve health insurance markets, and today the Supreme Court essentially endorsed this way of understanding the law and suggested it is how judges should think about laws more generally too.

This understanding of the role of the judge threatens to undermine the rule of law in the American system of government, because it undermines the central place assigned to written law, and to the legislator, in that system. Ironically, I think the Chief Justice intends his decision to be deferential to the Congress—to keep the Court’s footprint small in this arena by not reading laws in ways that require large transformations in the forms of their administration. But in effect, this is more contempt than deference. While it would seem to suggest that the will of the legislator should guide the system, in fact it means that the word of the legislator does not govern the other branches. It implies that Congress should have just passed a law that said “health insurance markets shall be improved,” and then left it to the executive agencies to decide how they wish to do that while judges nod in approval.
law  politics  interpretation 
june 2015 by ayjay
Smithereens! | Books and Culture
The author, Christian Smith, is a well-known sociologist who recently converted from evangelical Protestantism to Roman Catholicism but maintains the moniker "evangelical" and disclaims that the reasons for his conversion had very much to do with why he thinks biblicism isn't a truly evangelical reading of Scripture. But what does he mean by "biblicism," and by its making the Bible "impossible"? Biblicism makes the Bible impossible to put into practice, according to Smith; and as used by him, biblicism means an emphasis on the Bible's "exclusive authority, infallibility [or 'inerrancy'], perspicuity, self-sufficiency, internal consistency, self-evident meaning, and universal applicability," though not every version of biblicism contains all these ingredients, at least not all in equal measure.

How then does the foregoing constellation of emphases make the Bible impossible to put into practice? It does so by producing "pervasive interpretive pluralism," so that evangelical Christians differ widely on what they should believe and how they should behave; and their differences include important as well as unimportant matters. Thus "practice" includes belief as well as behavior, and "impossible" has to do with shared practices. For example, biblicists differ over human free will and divine sovereignty; penal satisfaction and Christus Victor; creation and evolution; sprinkling and immersion; divorce and remarriage; complementarianism and egalitarianism; just war and pacifism; pretribulationism and posttribulationism; amillennialism, premillennialism, and postmillennialism; everlasting torment and annihilation; soteriological exclusivism, inclusivisim, and universalism; and on and on. In other words, biblicism fails to produce the theological and behavioral unity that Smith thinks necessary to validate it. Furthermore, biblicism fosters using the Bible as a handbook for matters of diet, dating, gardening, good sex, alternative medicine, psychological counseling, business practices, and so on—all matters of little or no importance in the Bible, he avers.
bible  interpretation  theology 
november 2014 by ayjay
Inside the Crowded Cult of The Shining Theorists -- Vulture
There were levels to this game, as I would learn from Kevin McLeod, writer and video-game designer, whose lengthy Shining essay is one of the reigning texts on the topic. McLeod, who declined to appear in Room 237 because he “didn’t want to be included with a bunch of cranks” (but wound up liking the film anyway), and I had much in common. A pair of Queens boys, we both saw The Shining the night it opened, the then-12-year-old McLeod in the company of his mother at the now vanished Sutton Theatre on East 57th Street. We hit a snag, however, when I referred to Kubrick as “one of the three or four” greatest filmmakers ever. After a long period of silence, McLeod said, “Stanley Kubrick is not one of the three or four greatest filmmakers! Stanley Kubrick is a philosopher the equal of Heraclitus, a visual artist on the level of a Da Vinci.” Kubrick combined “all the great talents of a Velázquez and a Caravaggio,” McLeod contended.
Despite this rocky start, McLeod and I soon entered into an adept-initiate relationship regarding the formalistic-phenomenological nature of The Shining. Pedagogically, the problem was the twenty-year gap between our ages, McLeod suggested. My brain was simply too set in its outmoded way of seeing. The garden-variety theories expressed in Room 237, the “Native American vs. Manifest Destiny, mirroring vs. doubling, linear vs. continuum, supernatural vs. natural, text vs. visual, text vs. spoken word, fable vs. myth, cartoon vs. realism,” were not incorrect, McLeod wrote in his essay. What they lacked was a “neurophenomenological” overview to make them comprehensible on the level Kubrick intended. The movie was no less than “a primitive gateway to an entirely different mode of cognition beyond the limitations of speech and the written alphabet,” McLeod told me. Kubrick’s singular genius required its own aesthetic theory to be understood; McLeod aimed to provide it.
film  aesthetics  interpretation 
march 2013 by ayjay

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