Archive for the ‘interpretation’ Category
At the moment I am working on the section of my thesis which tries to explain what a canonical approach to interpretation actually is. This is a harder question than I first thought. Here’s a summary of my thinking so far:
1. The canon is a cohesive, ordered collection of texts.
2. Choosing to read one of these texts canonically involves privileging the intra-canonical intertext above extra-canonical intertexts.
3. This involves a choice (whether conscious or not) on the part of the reader and does not deny the possibility of other interpretations, merely the right of other interpretations to be called canonical.
4. This intertextual interpretation must be governed by those canonical texts which describe the nature of the whole canonical intertext. That is to say, the canon’s own statements about its origin, purpose, content and audience need to be considered in a canonical interpretation of any part of the canon.
5. One of the things the canon tells us about itself is that it is divine discourse: God speaks through the canon.
6. Which means that the reader’s choice of a canonical interpretation in fact leads to an emphasis on the (implied) divine author’s communicative intent.
7. The divine author’s communicative intent is by no means limited to the passing on of information. The canon tells us that God’s purposes for the canon include things like making promises; giving warnings; making people wise for salvation; establishing covenant and so on. A helpful model for clarifying these kinds of things is Austin’s speech act theory. Locutionary, illocutionary and perlocutionary acts describe what is said, what is done by saying, and what results from what is said. All of these (and a fourth kind of speech act identified by Vanhoozer, the interlocutionary act) are part of the communicative intent of the divine author implied in the canonical text. Thus all of these should inform a canonical interpretation.
8. Canonical interpretation will thus make demands on the reader. A canonical interpretation will implicate the reader in the illocutionary, perlocutionary and interlocutionary acts. The effects of an interpretation will thus form one means of evaluating it: not simply ‘Is it right?’ but ‘Does it work?’
From Stephen Chapman’s essay ‘Reclaiming Inspiration for the Bible’ in Canon and Biblical Interpretation:
The decisive objection to the idea of propositional revelation is not that the biblical books fail to communicate concepts: it is instead that the biblical literature does more than convey concepts. The Bible also influences and forms its readers in a wide variety of more subtle ways, which are just as crucial to its literary impact. The Bible gives its hearers and readers a narrative world to live in. Its phrases and rhythms linger in the mind and its stories often provoke questions more than they provide answers.
Well, this is one way to pique the interest of your congregation in your new sermon series. It’s very cool and quite fun and, despite the funky graphics and sound and so on, fairly focussed on the bible.
Here’s the thing that interests me. It’s clear from the summary of the sermon series that Mark Driscoll is adopting an essentially ‘literal’ interpretation of the Song. He’s going to be talking about sex, intimacy, sex, marriage, sex and did I mention, sex. Children, he thinks, would be best off in Sunday school during these sermons. BUT, did you play the game? Go and play the game (it’s fun!). Did you notice what they did there? They allegorised the foxes! Those foxes are fear, debt, lies, betrayal (I expect there were others but I’m not very good at games like that).
I don’t even really know what to say about this. It’s okay to do allegorisation, so long as it’s only for fun on your website? It’s okay to do allegorisation, so long as we still get to talk about sex a lot? Can anyone else explain this bizarre double standard?