Interpreting Scripture

November 15, 2004 | 23 comments
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Joe Spencer, Blake Ostler, Larry, and Ivan Wolfe have started talking about the interpretation of scripture on the thread on pride. That is, in itself, an interesting discussion, so I am opening it up here.

As I understand, the question that came up is about the “distance” between scripture and interpretation.

So, have at it guys.

23 Responses to Interpreting Scripture

  1. Joe Spencer on November 15, 2004 at 12:51 pm

    I suppose, to get the ball rolling, I ought to state my position with some care. The issue seems to me to be as follows:

    For those familiar with Heidegger’s “The Origin of the Work of Art,” I think his discussion there is very helpful. The way a “world” gives us access to the “earth” seems to me to be very like the process of interpretation. While a full exposition of what Heidegger says there cannot be addressed in a post here, a basic conception may open up the discussion that has already begun.

    It seems to me that we have two parts of the equation in scripture study: there is the text itself (which may well be akin to the spirit before its being taken up in relation to God, which I have called a nothingness in another thread); and there is our account of the text (or our interpretation). These two cannot be identical, unless perhaps our account is merely the very words of the text, nothing changed. Whenever we begin to talk about the text, we have departed from it. Perhaps even reading aloud the very words of the text is a departure, because our accentuation, etc., is an interpretive work that sets itself over against the text. In other words, the interpretation of the text may well be absolutely necessary (indeed, it seems to be such to me).

    However, interpretation should not be understood here as distorting, at least not malevolently: interpretation is a necessary part of scripture study. To deny the possibility or even necessity of interpretation is to claim either that humans have absolutely no way to read the scriptures at all (an extreme pessimism) or that humans have absolute access to the text itself (an extreme optimism that seems wholly unfounded). Interpretation, it seems, may be a two-edged sword. It may on the one hand provide for a radical departure from the text, but it may on the other hand be our only way of accessing the text. Interpretation is the “world” that gives us access to the “earth.” Or in other words, the interpretation and the text mutually arise for us. We cannot have the one without the other. The hermeneutic is our relation to the text.

    This interpretation, it seems to me further, should be self-conscious, in the sense that it should take account of the fact that it is a (be it ever so slight) departure from the text itself, while it at the same time is the only way for us to gain access to the text. My words concening LDS ontology that began this whole conversation in the other thread were an attempt to point out that interpretation MUST be self-conscious. When Saints begin to do philosophy with the texts, it seems to me that there should be a very conscious understanding of the fact that the accounts of the text being made are necessarily at some distance from the text. The growing field of Mormon metaphysics, perhaps heralded by Blake’s first book, seldom acknowledges this distance, and sometimes seems to ignore it entirely. That distance is of the utmost importance, especially because it means that no Saint is necessarily bound to “conclusions” drawn from scripture, as they are necessarily suspended in some sort of interpretive framework that is set over against the text.

    Two final comments:

    I apologize for the complexity of this comment. It is by no means easily decipherable. Perhaps it is only intended to open up discussion, and I will spend a great deal of time clarifying my impossible prose.

    Jim, you will notice I tried to avoid using “ontic” and “ontological.” Your discomfort with my usage most likely has something to do with my own shortcomings in my studies of _Being and Time_ and not with what I was attempting to say. I was merely trying to use them as parallel to “world” and “earth” in “Origin.” Perhaps this is just as problematic. Your instruction would be appreciated.

  2. Larry on November 15, 2004 at 1:17 pm

    Jim,

    Thank you! I want very much to enter into this discussion. Unfortunately I have a busy day scheduled and may not get to it until later in the evening unless I get some cancellations. I look forward to the discussion.
    In case anyone is interested, my comments will continue on the same theme I posted on “Pride”. I also would like to hear more from Nate and Jack, and Blake as well as Joe and Russell.
    Have a good day!

  3. clark on November 15, 2004 at 5:25 pm

    I’m putting these comments here since they really are more appropriate here.

    The danger I see in the approach Keith and Russell take is that they lie on the assumption that more not less was revealed to Benjamin over Joseph Smith. That, or a view of literal inspiration to Benjamin’s words which I’m not sure I’d buy in the narrative context to the speech.

    Perhaps these comments ought better be placed over in the other thread on interpretation. But it seems to me that the notion of continuing revelation that Mormons adhere to comes with it the assumption that scripture and scriptural understanding are very much tied to a notion of limited revelation and the idea that revelations in a context are given according to the understanding that context allows. Put in less technical language, Benjamin’s words ought not be pushed beyond what we know was theologically understood at that time. We can go beyond that, but only in terms of scripture acting as a catalyst to further revelation.

  4. Ivan Wolfe on November 15, 2004 at 5:31 pm

    Joe –

    If we want to get all Deconstructionist on this, we could argue that yes, as you say:
    There is the text itself (which may well be akin to the spirit before its being taken up in relation to God, which I have called a nothingness in another thread); and there is our account of the text (or our interpretation). These two cannot be identical

    But thn, we would have to say that the text itself is not the same as what the scriptural authors were writing about. And that what they were writing about is not the same as whatever lay behind it (and so forth). Eventually we lose sight of the sciptures entirely.

    I guess my question is: where do we stop?

    P.S. – I actually really like your explantiona above. Not sure if I completely agree, but it makes sense.

  5. clark on November 15, 2004 at 5:39 pm

    I’ll answer Keith’s rejoinder here, rather than in the Pride thread.

    Keith: But doesn’t the fact that it one is canonized and the other not give some notion of priority? This seems to me to be crucial. And if we follow the continuing revelation line (a good idea), it seems to me that President Benson’s claim that we are under condemnation for neglecting the Book of Mormon would argue that the teachings there haven’t been used and emphasized like they should be. And Joseph himself said we’d get closer to God through that book than any other.

    I agree with the notion, but not the application. Canonization ought affect our perception of value. It doesn’t somehow magically make the text somehow a-contextual and open to a literalist reading independent of the theological understanding of the prophet. Up on my blog I wrote up a bit on Nibley’s Before Adam. What was most important in his essay was the recognition that prophets wrote from the perspective and limitations they find themselves in. Fundamentally scripture is prophetic writing and not divine writing. We don’t have a theological notion of scripture akin to say Mohammad writing the Koran as dictated to them.

    So while I agree with the role of canon, I fundamentally don’t think canonization somehow takes away that recognition that not everything was revealed to all prophets.

    Regarding your second point, I’d simply point out that theology is not a drawing closer to God. They are two very different functions. One can read the scriptures to glean theology, but I think the scriptures focus on theology on in a secondary fashion. The primary function is to lead us to a relationship to God. When we reverse that ordering, putting theology above faith and a divine relating, then we fundamentally distort the scriptures.

    I could put all this in Heideggarian language. But I don’t think it necessary. But for those familiar with Heidegger, it is once again the distinction between present-at-hand, ready-at-hand, and then for-the-sake-of. Theology, as typically discussed, is a present-at-hand discussion. Scriptures are fundamentally concerned with the ready-at-hand utility and function of scripture as they lead us to live a faithful life. Analyzing Benjamin’s address such that it is thought of not only as present-at-hand entities, but a-contextual present-at-hand entities, is fundamentally always a bad reading, in my opinion.

    Not that Blake, Russell or others are necessarily doing this. One can, after all, still keep in mind ready-at-handedness and still be wrong. (grin) However the argument for the priviledging of Mosiah above the King Follet Discourse does seem predicated on a present-at-handedness view of scripture.

  6. clark on November 15, 2004 at 5:45 pm

    Ivan: But thn, we would have to say that the text itself is not the same as what the scriptural authors were writing about. And that what they were writing about is not the same as whatever lay behind it (and so forth). Eventually we lose sight of the sciptures entirely.

    The way out of this (to return to Heidegger) is to distinguish between the text as it functions and the text in its “aboutness.” The “aboutness” is in terms of what Heidegger calls for-the-sake-of. This for-the-sake-of is always in the future. Since you bring up deconstruction, I’d note that Derrida talks of entities like justice as undeconstructible. I believe that this is because they are for-the-sake-ofs which are essentially possible entities and never actual entities.

    Put in different language, it means that our understanding is finite and the entities are infinite. Any finite representation of an infinite entity are incomplete and misleading. If we think that any scripture is a complete or last word on a topic then we’ve confused scripture with the thing scripture is about.

    The easy way to deal with this is to say that scriptures primarily function as a catalyst to revelation. It is that revealing that is a successful scriptural reading. This, as I take it, is how scripture is never of private interpretation. The “private” as I take it, is that finite interpretation. If we are to read the scriptures in their primordial context, then we must read them as God reads them, not as the prophet speaking would read them. But of course that is impossible. So we can but hope for that portion of God’s view that he gives us through his spirit.

  7. Jonathan Green on November 15, 2004 at 7:53 pm

    Ivan says that Joe is taking a deconstructionist turn, and gives it post-structuralist twist: he asks, more or less, doesn’t the scriptural text just disappear in a hall-of-mirros set of nesting interpretations?

    There’s a reason that the question of interpreting scripture so quickly ends up dealing with critical theory, because we’ve had this same conversation before, for the last 1800 years or so. That is, all of modern critical theory is a direct descendant of people wrestling with the question of biblical interpretation, and with a lot of contemporary approaches, you don’t have to go back very far at all until you strike theologians arguing with each other. (I haven’t read Eagleton in a while; he’s not perfect, but he’s entertaining, and if I remember correctly he traces the development pretty clearly.) In the question of how to interpret scripture, we already know what the strengths and weakness of most older approaches were, so we proceed directly to the current prevailing methods, where the jury is still out.

    I was particularly struck by the similarity of scriptural and literary interpretive theories when I was teaching gospel doctrine the same semester I had a seminar on critical theory. About halfway through the semester, I realized that my gospel doctrine lesson plans had been paralleling the theory of the week, whatever it was: new critical approaches, marxism, reception studies, feminism, you name it. It made for some very…interesting lessons.

    I like Joe’s insistence on people recognizing the distinction between the scriptures and their interpretation, and I think the answer to Ivan’s question of where to stop is “yes”: that is, centuries of text-critical work has not given us a stable biblical text, but rather a great many divergent readings–that is, interpretations. With enough scrutiny, I don’t think the other standard works will be much different. As a church, we’re well equipped to handle that (as I now see clark has pointed out), because we are not reliant on infallible scripture for anything. Beyond Joe’s recommended humility in presenting an interpretation, I think it’s important to approach even the most basic reading of the scriptures with humility as well.

  8. Larry on November 15, 2004 at 8:01 pm

    Clark,

    Quick question: If private interpretation is a no-no in scripture (and we agree on that) of what value are they if they aren’t what they say they are.
    Though Nibley writes about scripture as being from the prophet’s perspective etc., that argument cannot hold true with regard to doctrine.
    The role of the prophet is to reveal the mind and will of God. The circumstances under which the prophet receives the doctrine may be subject to subjective analysis but the doctrine stands on it’s own 2 feet.

    The doctrine provided in one set of circumstances may not appear complete, but if taken in context with other scriptures on the same or related topics the material provided is as complete as the Lord wants to provide.

    We know that there are many things we do not know because we are not ready for them. We know that much has been revealed that could not be written or even spoken of.

    However, the fact that all has not been revealed does not negate the quality of the revelations and doctrine that have been revealed. If the Lord had not intended for doctrine to be taken as revealed He might have better said: “It is my wish that…”.
    Therefore, where doctrine is concerned there can be very little, if any room, for deviation or interpretation.

    The fact that our understanding is finite is explained, in my mind, in clear terms in Section 84:45 and Section 93.
    If “the word of the Lord=truth
    and truth=light
    and light=Spirit
    and Spirit=the Spirit of Jesus Christ”
    it appears to me that each of these words can be used in place of another. That means anywhere in scripture – ancient or modern.
    Therefore, in verse 23 of Section 93 we read: “Ye were also in the beginning with the Father; That which is Spirit, even the Spirit of Truth;

    That means that we were beings of truth or light or Spirit. Let’s use “light” as the term of choice here. The next verse says that light is “knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come;

    Abr. 3 points out that we differ in light (or intelligence) as the stars differ from one another. Why would that be. Because one light (spirit) has more light (intelligence) than another. That person has been acted on by the Lighter of Lights (Holy Ghost)
    because he has been more faithful in keeping the commandments.

    If light, then is knowledge of “things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come” then the more light one has the clearer the message is. Hence, all who were present at the Council in Heaven rejoiced when presented with the plan. They loved what they saw. However, they did not see equally, because the light they had was not equal.

    The same is true here in mortality. Some see things more clearly than others because of their obedience (in things related to science, philosophy etc.) -or adherence to the field they are studying.

    But being an expert in one field does not make one an expert in another field. That is why we look to the Prophet for revelation and information on things that matter most. If there is one place where certainty in doctrine can be found, it is through those that the Lord has chosen to be His mouthpiece here on earth. There doesn’t need to be the equivocating on what was said or what was meant that can be had with regard to philosophies, or literature or the sciences.

    We can’t apply the same measure because it simply doesn’t measure up. The Lord knows what He wants, He knows how to say it, and He uses the person He has selected to say it. How do we argue with the Lord?

  9. Joe Spencer on November 15, 2004 at 8:05 pm

    I suppose this responds to both Ivan and Clark.

    I want to keep some distance from Deconstruction, because I think that we have access to the text itself through the interpretation. Our account of the text is necessarily a departure, yes, but it is also the only way we have to get to the text. In other words, an interpretation both conceals and reveals the text. It does not reveal it in its purity, but it does give us the text while concealing it at the same time. Again, Heidegger’s “Origin of the Work of Art” is sort of what I have in mind here. If I understand Deconstruction (which is likely very questionable, because my readings in Deconstruction are few and far between), deconstructionists deny that interpretation ultimately gives us any “real” access to the text itself. We seem, given we take up the deconstructionist understanding, never to be able to reach the text, but we are constantly caught up in a sort of thread of interpretations.

    However, I think we do have access to the text, albeit a sort of distorted access. But, having that access, I think we can in turn set our interpretation back against the text (the words are, after all, in front of us on the page) and allow the text to adjust our interpretation. The text itself and our interpretation, it seems, take up a dialectic or conversation, and the two begin to draw toward each other. Perhaps a good reading (or a close reading) of a scriptural text just takes a great deal of work, and that work seems at times to be lacking in most discussions of Mormon metaphysics.

    Clark, I enjoy your comments about scripture as a catalyst to revelation, but I think my appreciation of them depends somewhat on how you intend “revelation” itself to be taken. I certainly don’t understand the scriptures to be something that just puts us “in the mindset,” as it were, to receive spiritual communication. I think there are real reasons the text was written as it was. I don’t know whether or not that is what you had in mind; having read some of your comments, I doubt it. However, other ways of reading your comment seem problematic. Ultimately, I think we must admit, there is great purpose in the actual words of scripture, and that cannot be set aside. If you mean revelation about the text, I wonder if that really is revelation… I suppose it should be obvious by this point in my rambling that I’m having trouble making sense of exactly what you are claiming. Please expound.

  10. Joe Spencer on November 15, 2004 at 8:19 pm

    Larry,

    2 Peter 1 is all too perfect an example of the very issue I am trying to bring up here. You say that we all agree that private interpretation is a no-no. I don’t agree. And here’s why.

    After some discussion of temple themes and what it means to be a prophet, Peter says this in verse 17: “We have also a more sure word of prophecy.” I think this can only mean that because he is a prophet and has seen the other side of the veil (see verses 16-18), his word of prophecy is a “more sure word,” something much more sure than we have. (What this has to do with Joseph’s explanation of the phrase must be discussed elsewhere.) If my understanding of Peter’s phrase is correct, the rest of the verse makes a great deal of sense: “whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place,” etc. He is saying something like: “You had better listen up, because I have seen!”

    It is immediately after this that he says in verse 20, “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.” Joseph alters this thus: “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scriptures is given of any private will of man.” A brief glance at any other translation of the Greek here shows that Joseph’s interpretation is in accordance with the original language and the context. Peter seems to be saying that prophecy does not come because the prophet desires it, but because it is God’s word. Peter is telling us that he didn’t ask for the prophetic word, but that he was called upon to provide it. This is exactly what the next verse, verse 21, says: “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” I don’t think there is any other way to read this text.

    Given this is correct (or at least at a reasonably short distance from the text itself), then there is no scriptural justification for the common LDS claim that there should be no “private interpretation.” But the only way we can even get to what I have here shared is to take a better look at the text itself, draw out an interpretation, set that interpretation back against the text, draw out a better interpretation, set that back against it, draw out, set back, draw out, set back, etc. Get the point? Interpretation is of utmost importance, and communication is not as simple as “he said this, so it means that.” My very point may elucidate the fact that there IS and MUST BE private interpretation, but that private interpretation must be set back against the text to open up the dialectic.

  11. Larry on November 15, 2004 at 8:55 pm

    Joe,

    When you said:
    “Peter seems to be saying that prophecy does not come because the prophet desires it, but because it is God’s word. Peter is telling us that he didn’t ask for the prophetic word, but that he was called upon to provide it. This is exactly what the next verse, verse 21, says: “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.â€? I don’t think there is any other way to read this text.

    Thank you. You made my point.
    But then you said – “Given this is correct (or at least at a reasonably short distance from the text itself), then there is no scriptural justification for the common LDS claim that there should be no “private interpretation.â€?”

    This confused me because I don’t see the connection between the two statements. It doesn’t mean you are wrong – I just don’t get the connection

  12. Clark Goble on November 15, 2004 at 9:20 pm

    Lots of comments and I only have time to address a few. First to Larry. I think the issue is what it means to learn line upon line and precept upon precept. There are two models. The one is that knowledge increases like a house being built. You have boards and when you place a board that part of the house is done. It is there and absolute. The other model is that it is like a hologram. If you’ve played with holograms you know that if you break it in half, you don’t end up with half the picture. Rather you end up with a picture that has half the detail. It gets fuzzier and hazier.

    Take your example of equating Light and Spirit. Now is that an absolute equation? i.e. all light is spirit and all spirit is light, or are some of the uses of light spirit and some of the uses of spirit light with some aspects that don’t overlap? Can you assert that you fully understand what is meant by light or spirit? Or do you have a vague and fuzzy version?

    Regarding doctrine having to be absolute and not bound by the perspective of the prophet. Consider Moses being shown in vision the things we have in the book of Moses. Now, when Moses writes this down, will what he writes down be dictated or will he, with some help from the spirit, do the best he can? Clearly, to me anyway, Moses’ vision was broader than his ability to understand, and his ability to write this down is more limited than his understanding.

    Now this isn’t to say that there aren’t rather clear doctrines we can get from the scriptures, so far as they go. For instance we know Jesus lived in Palestine and died, somewhere around 2000 years ago. But my point is, that these statements are somewhat vague.

    To argue otherwise, is, in my mind, to say we hold to sentences without necessarily understanding what those sentences mean. Further it is to say that revelation is essentially given as a text rather than a text trying to represent the revelation.

  13. Clark Goble on November 15, 2004 at 9:23 pm

    Regarding private interpretation, I believe the meaning is that we don’t get to say what the text means. Rather the text means what God intended by it. It is, as I see it, a comment on hermeneutics, especially when you consider all the sorts of interpretations going around at the time. That includes highly allegorized readings of scripture, as were popularized earlier with the Stoics and the main Greek “canonical” texts. Further there were various mystical and other readings at the time. I don’t think he’s saying anything more profound than that. The implications might be profound, but that’s an other matter.

  14. Marc D. on November 15, 2004 at 11:33 pm

    This is something Joseph Smith said:
    ‘What is the rule of interpretation? Just no interpretation at all. Understand it precisely as it reads. I have a key by which I understand the scriptures. I enquire, what was the question which drew out the answer, or caused Jesus to utter the parable? It is not national; it does not refer to Abraham, Israel or the Gentiles, in a national capacity, as some suppose. To ascertain its meaning, we must dig up the root and ascertain what it was that drew the saying out of Jesus.’
    Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ,Vol. 5:261-62)

  15. Larry on November 15, 2004 at 11:34 pm

    Clark,

    Thank you for the clarification.

  16. Jim F. on November 16, 2004 at 12:35 am

    Two quick comments, then I have to force myself back to grading papers rather than reading this interesting discussion.

    In reponse #7, Jonathan Green points out that contemporary literary theories, including deconstruction, have their antecedents in discussions of biblical interpretation. That is an important point. It is also important, I think, to note that the usual way we understand what the scriptures mean originates in the 18th century in arguments against the Bible and the possibility that it contains revelation, arguments made by people like Thomas Paine. For a very good and reasonably brief overview of the connection between literary theory and biblical exegesis, read the first part of Hans Frei’s The Eclipse of Biblical Narrative. I have some problems with Frei’s response to that history, narrative theology (though I am also sympathetic to it), but his account of the history makes for good reading.

    Joe suggested (#9) that deconstruction doesn’t allow us ever to reach the text. Of course there are lots of kinds of deconstruction, so he may be right about some. But I don’t think he’s right about Derrida’s. Derrida’s point isn’t that we can’t reach the text. His point is that if we make a connection to what the text points to, we do so by means of something extra-textual. The result it that our analysis of the text itself can open up a variety of possibilities if we don’t have the extra-textual something available to tie the text to that at which it points.

  17. Jonathan Green on November 16, 2004 at 9:15 am

    Thanks for the book recommendation, Jim. I’ll take a look at it.

    Marc D’s quotation of Joseph Smith is striking for a couple reasons. First, the prophet disavows interpretation–and then immediately describes a method of interpreting the scriptures. The interpretive method he describes is also quite similar to a line from Gadamer that I came across a few days ago: “Truly, one can only understand a text if one has understood the question to which the text is an answer.”

  18. Clark Goble on November 16, 2004 at 12:09 pm

    Marc D’s quote from Joseph is quite good. One might want also to read the original notes from which the account in the TPJS was “created.”

    I’d say that Joseph’s comments are quite similar to the notion of Deconstruction, whether in Derrida or the similar notion in Heidegger. Of course Derrida’s use is a little more Hegelian than Heidegger’s (IMO). There he not only wants to return to the original phenomena that allowed the text to be produced. He wants to focus on what was left out or excluded in the text as we have it. And, since the text is always a finite and therefore incomplete representation of an infinite phenomena, that “left out” is always available. And that was what I was trying to get at.

    Texts are always about something and to correctly read the text we shouldn’t just focus on what the text says in its public meaning, nor in a way should we just worry about the author’s intent. Rather we should place ourselves in the role of the original questioner trying to bring forth the truth that was sought after. It is that bringing forth truth that is the point of the scriptures.

  19. Joe Spencer on November 16, 2004 at 12:13 pm

    First of all, thanks Jim for your clarification. I hope my hedge was big enough to reveal how little I know about Deconstruction.

    Second, a response to Larry. The connection between Peter’s claim that revelation comes by God’s will and not by the prophet’s will and my claim that there is no justification for the claim that Mormon’s are not to privately interpret scripture is this: Mormons generally derive the claim that they are not to interpret scripture themselves from Peter’s claim that scripture is of no private interpretation. But when we look at the context, the Greek, and better translations, Peter doesn’t say that. He says that prophets receive their prophecies by God’s will and not their own. In other words, the claim that scripture should not be subject to personal interpretation is a misreading of the text. There are certainly powerful implications in that text for personal interpretation, but Peter does not, it appears, say anything about whether personal interpretation should be done. There is certainly no commandment against it, which is nice, because I’m not sure what such a commandment would mean.

  20. Joe Spencer on November 16, 2004 at 12:16 pm

    I have to admit that this post is going in an entirely different direction than I imagined it would. I think that part of that is because Blake has not joined in, and I think the idea behind the post was to provide Blake and myself to discuss interpretation and Mormon ontology. I suppose any thread has its own intentions.

    I wonder if any have any thoughts on my comment above (#1)? There was a point of clarification here and there, but no one has made any claims about it, disagreements with it, etc. Is this a good model for interpretation? Does it ring with the quotation from Joseph that was shared here? How does it bear on the history of religious interpretation that has given way to textual critical theory? Thoughts?

  21. Clark Goble on November 16, 2004 at 12:52 pm

    “Mormons generally derive the claim that they are not to interpret scripture themselves from Peter’s claim that scripture is of no private interpretation.”

    A small quibble. I think the theological point doesn’t come from this scripture but rather this scripture is the prooftext used to express the notion. I actually always thought 1 Cor 14 was perhaps a better text (although still not clearly expressing the notion often taught in the church)

    I think the point is that the origin of prophesy is God and to merely focus in on the prophet is to miss what was being expressed. When we say “no private interpretation” it doesn’t just mean we get to pick the meaning. However I think that a logical implication from what was taught. (i.e. that the origin of the text is beyond the simple context)

  22. Blake Ostler on November 16, 2004 at 1:32 pm

    Joe: The reason I haven’t joined is that it seems fairly obvious to me that an interpretation of a text is not the text and does not merely restate the text — there is always a differenace, always more and alaways less in an interpretation that there is in the text — though I tend to see the text as a noumena rather than a phenomena in the sense I think you speak of text. There is no text that we can grasp that exists apart from us coming to it. I am just at a loss to grasp why you think my book ignores that point since I really don’t engage in much exegesis at all there.

  23. Blake Ostler on November 16, 2004 at 1:39 pm

    whoops, I meant that there is always a “differance” between the text and our take on the text.

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