Apply the whole of ourselves to
the text;
Apply the text wholly to
yourself!
J.A. Bengel (1687-1752)
1
•Bengel worded it as an
exhortation.
•With us as the active agents in
the interpretive process.
2
However, what if we write it this
way,
Apply the whole of ourselves to
the text;
And the text will apply itself
wholly to you!
3
•This becomes more of a promise relying
upon an outside agent, the Holy Spirit.
•The Bible ceases to be an object; rather
the Word takes hold of us.
•We bring questions to the Bible and the
Word in turn questions us.
4
•We may have come to the Bible as a
container with meaning yet in reality the
Word transforms reading into an
encounter.
•E.g., Beethoven’s 9th as a music score
or as an event
5
Three Worlds of Text
In present scholarship, we can categorize
three different groups of theories, regarding
the location of meaning
1. World Behind the text (Author-centered)
2. World Within the text (Text-centered)
3. World in front of the text (Reader-centered)
6
Three Worlds of Text
1. World Behind the text (Author-centered)
Meaning is assumed to lie in the author’s
intention formulated in terms of social,
political, and cultural matrix of the author.
Questions asked,
“What prompted John to write this?”
“What did he mean when he wrote?”
“What historical situations influenced
his work?”
7
Three Worlds of the Text
1. World Behind the text (Author-centered)
Three Critical Approaches associated
with historical-critical method:
•
Source criticism
•
Form Criticism
•
Redaction Criticism
8
Three Worlds of the Text
1. World Behind the text (Author-centered)
Problem with looking for meaning only
with this historical approach:
With the huge amount of attention given to
the world behind the text . . . The text itself
and the reader was overlooked.
9
Three Worlds of the Text
2. World Within the text (Text-centered)
Emphasis upon the text as the place where
meaning is housed
Rise of Literary criticism
10
Three Worlds of the Text
2. World Within the text (Text-centered)
Problem:
• Text becomes autonomous,
disconnected from history, author, and
reader.
• Text becomes a “container” for
meaning, to be conquered
11
Three Worlds of the Text
3. World in front of text (Reader-centered)
Each reader brings to the text a different
set of presuppositions, experiences,
interests, competencies
•Reader “creates” meaning in his/her
encounter with the text
•Rise of Reader-Response Criticism
12
Three Worlds of the Text
3. World in front of text (Reader-centered)
Problem:
•Meaning can be seen as an invention of
the reader, separate from the intention of
the author or the historical situation at
work in the original writing.
•Each reading is a new meaning.
No “stable meaning of a text.”
13
Three Worlds of the Text
Answer: An Integrated Solution
Meaning is a conversation between:
•Narrative World of Text
•Real
World of Reader
•Historical World of the Author
Interpretation will be impaired when any
one world is given exclusive reign while
neglecting of the other two!
14
Simple Communication Matrix
Sender
Message
Receiver
Speaker
Spoken
Listener
(or author)
(or written)
(or reader)
Feedback
15
Biblical Interpretation
Writer
Thinks
Moves
Space - Time Barrier
God
Spirit
Reader
Thinks
Moves
Our Task
1. Observe Text
Written
Text
2. Ask Key Text-Driven
Questions
3. Answer Questions Using Textual Evidence
and interpretive tools (Word Studies/Cultural
Historical Background, etc.)