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Principles of Interp!!!
for our cool final
Bible Studies
Undergraduate 3

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Behind the Text
1. Behind-the-Text- ie: The Authors. It views the text as a window, serving as the context in which we focus on the historical, social, and cultural realities of the time that they were composed. Includes ideas that involves author, date, audience, sources, etc.
Difficulties: (1) Historical background, getting out of the text & reconstruction
How to Find Lit Context: Book level
-Book level
1-context: Discourse analysis: discern the movement or flow of entire discourse/communication. (outline)
2-Genre: form, style, subject matter of whole book (could have mixed genres)
3-Themes and ideas:
How to Find Lit Context: Passage level
-Passage level
1-ID sub-genres: parable, sermon, dialogue
2-Isolate unit or pericopy- relationships between units. Any indications in text that a certain passage should be read as a unit?
3. ID structure : chiasm, inclusio, etc
4. develop textual outline and summarize ABI (ID major sections of passage according to structure; develop one sentence summary statement of section; synthesize these sentences into one sentence that reflects ABI)
How to Find Lit Context: Canon level
-Canonical level
-OT use in NT
-how: interpret Bible as a single story. Do not flatten out particularities of biblical text
Historical Criticism
claims that reality is uniform and universal, and that it is accessible to human reason and investigation and therefore by human reason and observation one can objectively determine what happened in the past. Analysis of the Bible that focuses upon what has been called “behind the text” issues (traditions, sources, oral forms) that were used by the biblical authors as they wrote. “traditionally focused on determination of the original context of biblical books, including issues regarding authorship, dating, and audience as well as more general historical study of the time periods in which the biblical text was written.”

Criteria of historical criticism:
i. Principle of criticism: known as methodological doubt. You can never attain absolute certainty but only relative degrees of probability.
ii. Principle of analogy: by rational explanation, historical knowledge is possible because all events are similar in principle. The laws of nature in Biblical times were the same as now.
iii. Principle of correlation: the phenomenon of history are inter-related and interdependent and no event can be isolated from the sequence of historical cause and effect. (a closed-world assumption)
iv. Principle of autonomy: independent from the church or state
Historical Context
Historical-Cultural context (“social setting” for Brown)- in order to understand the author’s communication we must attend to the world of assumptions (presupposition pool) of the author and audience along with the actual words of the text. It is necessary, but it is not sufficient!!!!
Types of Historical-cultural context:
1. World Context: universally shared contexts and meanings, such as the symbolism between light and dark.
2. Cultural context: a particular society’s way of understanding and living...including political, social, and religious beliefs and practices.
3. Audience context: specific context of the original audience communicated to.
4. Dynamic Context: the relationship between author and audience and how is changes over time (ex: Paul’s relationship with Corinth throughout his letters)
literary context
written material surrounding a text in question. First you look at individual level and then move out!
Levels of Literary Context
1-Semantics- the words, phrases, clauses in a sentence.
2-Paragraph- where does sentence lie?
3-Book level/discourse analysis- studying the entire segments of thought
4-Group of books- series of books that are similar (Gospels, Pentateuch, Epistles, etc)
5-Testament- NT, OT
6-Whole Scripture- canon level
Relationship between Author, text, reader
The movement between reader and texts in conversation is not a linear process—they happen in different orders and at times overlap in multiple back and forth movements. It involves a dynamic movement back and forth with the text, like a spiral. At the end, we look at the author as the window, the text as the picture and reader as the mirror.
Author (historical position)
First Movement: The Author.
Looked behind the text to find authorial intention and the situations, experiences, and intentions that gave rise to the text. It essentially believed that we could understand the author better than the author understood himself by transposing oneself in the author’s circumstances. This is possible because the reader has a bird’s eye view of the author’s time place and was able to understand the text better than the author who was locked in his own time. Schleirmacher was the pioneer of this historical period and his interpretative goal was to understand and connect with authors at this universal level.
text (historical position)
Second Movement: The Text.
In a reaction against the author, the text began to stand alone and the focus began to shift off getting into the “head of the author”. Because the text was abandoned so much in the past, a new model known as “New Criticism” developed that gave the text autonomy, divorcing it from its author. The text is the vehicle for meaning. The author no longer controls interpretation of the text and cannot determine meaning. They believe that authorial intention is both inaccessible and undesirable for interpretation. Lit is resurrected to a living significance. W.k. wimsatt
reader (historical position)
Third Movement: The Reader.
Heidegger emphasized the importance of the interpreter’s presuppositions in textual interpretation. The reader’s understanding of the text is structured by their own presuppositions. Advocates for the plurality of interpretations. Meaning occurs in the interplay of text and reader is now a standard one in hermeneutics. True understanding comes from the dialogue of text and interpreter. Involves human participation and application. The readers own reflection in relation to the text.
4) According to lecture, why should we read the Bible as a unified story? Is the unity of the Bible something we confess theologically or is it something we prove empirically (or both)? Why or why not? Is there empirical evidence for the unity of the Bible’s story? If the Bible is a unified story, how is it different from other stories (e.g., novels, histories, etc.)? If the Bible is a unified story, what are some of its unifying themes?
1. Why? It is both a Biblical story and a modern story that is (1) Comprehensive: an account of the whole creation, and (2) Normative: Tells the truth and whole story of reality.
2. We ACCEPT its unity on a theological basis (not empirically), knowing that God reveals Himself through it. It is not a matter based on examining apparent coherence of the texts.
3. However, empirically the Bible reads like a coherent story, just not a unified narrative.
4. This unity is on account of the fact that the story it tells claims universal validity. It tells it as the ultimate universal story that embraces all of reality. And it has unified structure
5. Its different from other stories because not all scripture is narrative, and scripture doesn’t tell narrative the same way a novel does.
6. Universal themes: the Kingdom (the framework that explains God’s people, rule/blessing, and place) and covenant (his work of redemption to carry out his purposes for his kingdom).
speech-act theory
“Verbal utterances not only say things, they also do things”. Example: a marriage “I do” changes reality.
Locution- What is communicated and the medium by which it comes (speech, letter, art, question, etc)
Illucotion- What is accomplished in the communication. It is the force of the locution. What is the desire of the author?
Perlocution –What the hearer does in response to that utterance and illocution.
Perlocutionary intention- The speaker’s intention for response by hearers.
Unintended perlocution- Willful disobedience or misunderstanding of the illocution presented by the location.
Advantages of Speech-Act Theory? Realizes the Scripture says and does things in its communication
relevance theory
(1) Hearers must infer more than is provided in the linguistic expression given and (2) hearers must select from various contextual inputs the most relevant for understanding. Linguistic expression + background context assumptions = meaning
Utterance-two aspects: a speech act, in a context. Thus, meaning is always contextually situated.
Implication- unstated things you must take account of when you have words in a context. They are any deductions we arrive at when you look at a context.
Assumed Context- the relevant presuppositions shared by speaker and hearer than make communication work. It is the presuppositional pool that involves the things that are known by speaker and hearer.
Advantages of Relevance Theory? It helps to expand our understanding of “meaning” beyond the explicit meaning of an utterance. (It is not a literal interpretation).
narrative theology
39. Narrative Theology-basic idea: “The priority of the story”. It attempts to discern an overall aim and ongoing plot in the ways of God as these are revealed in Scripture and continue to express themselves in history. It affirms that doctrine and values must be derived from the meta-narrative of Scripture.
40. Postmodernism- involves a movement beyond or reaction to certain tenets of modernism, such as reason used to gain absolute certainty. Reemphasis upon story as a resource for thinking about Biblical interpretation.
41. Meta-narrative-an implication from post-modernism which involves an over-arching story and makes sense of reality. Example: Marxist, feminist, Economics = worldview lenses.
Advantages to Narrative Theology? Looks at the Bible as one reality and unified, cohesive story. It has one overall, ongoing plot. It looks to the word to find out who God is. Thus, it sees Scripture’s metanarrative as the story to shape Christian theology and practice. Disadvantage: Is history true or reliable? Is it the only way to arrive at truth?
literary theory
32. Literary Theory- Basic insight: to wrestle with what literature actually is and how it functions to communicate. Linguistics contributes significantly to a communication model of texts. You do this to analyze your presuppositions carefully as you do interpretation. You need a well thought-out hermeneutic in order to read the Bible Well. Two theories in this category are Speech-act theory and Relevance theory.
33. Meaning- the pattern of what an author intended to communicate, conveyed through the text’s linguistic signs based on shareable conventions.
34. Implications: The sub meanings in a text of which an author may or may not be aware of, but nevertheless legitimately fall in the pattern of the meaning he or she willed.
35. Mental Acts: Author’s motives are not part of meaning because you don’t have access to the author’s exact mind when he was writing.
36. Implied Author-the textually constructed author who communicates with and seeks to persuade the implied reader. This helps us to move past the historical author and find the author within his or her text. Knowing information about the author might not necessarily help us arrive at the texts meaning.
37. Implied Audience/Reader- aka “Ideal Reader” or “Model Reader”. It is the textually constructed reader, the reader presupposed by the text. It is one foreseen by the author of a text and who is able to deal interpretatively with the expressions of the text in the same way as the author deals generatively with them. They respond rightly to the author’s communication. Also, the reader is shaped by the text.
38. Point of view-the perspective of the implied author, shared both explicitly and implicitly in the text. In some genres the voice of the author is more defined.
Advantages of Literary Theory? Recognizes that meaning can extend beyond the text, even beyond what the author saw when he wrote the text.
God the Holy Spirit so supernaturally directed the human writers of Scripture that, without waiving their intelligence, their individuality, their personal feelings, their literary style, or any other human factor of expression, His Complete and Coherent Message to mankind was recorded with perfect accuracy in the original languages of Scripture: the very words bearing the Authority of Divine Authorship
mechanical dictation
God commanded men to write verbatim the very words He uttered
the work of God wherein he providentially prepared and moved the human authors enabling them to receive and communicate according to their individual personalities and styles the truth he would have his people know for his glory and human salvation.
the spirits work preparing us to receive the written Word such that we comprehend its authority and the spiritual significance of its meaning
fallen condition
any aspect of human nature that requires God’s grace. Even if it is indirect, every passage in the Bible points out some aspect of Gods remedy. Individual or corporate sin.
redemptive solution
scripture points us to Christ. It does it in the passage, and then to the rest of the canon
Original Creational Intention
God originally intended order woven into the fabric of creation in the beginning which has been damaged but will be renewed/perfected in the end.
Meaning- The complex pattern of what an author intends to communicate with his or her audience for purposes of engagement, which is inscribed in the text and conveyed through use of both shareable language parameters and background-contextual assumptions (48).
i. Involves five aspects: Meaning IS…
1. Communicative intention in contrast to Mental acts
2. Both locution and illocution
3. Implicit and explicit in conveying meaning
4. A linguistic expression set within background-contextual assumptions (a particular presupposition pool)
5. Includes prelocutionary intention as an extension of meaning
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