Friday, October 14, 2005

Back to NT posts...sort of.

I have been meaning to read, 'Paul and the Hermeneutics of Faith', by Francis Watson, since picking it up last year at SBL, so I figured I ought to hurry and read it before SBL comes around again (in an effort to justify new purchases). I missed the lecture that Francis gave during the SBL meeting (ironically I went to hear Richard Hays), so I wasn't really sure what to expect from this book. So far, after reading only the introduction, I am looking quite forward to digging in. I hope to post some thoughts in the upcoming days, but until then I will leave you with a quote that struck me as germane to Biblical Studies.

'Disagreement is a familiar social practice in which it is difficult not to engage on a regular basis. It arises from the fact that humans live not in solitude but in community, and that from time to time their respective norms, projects or goals come into conflict. Since interpreting texts is an extension of the interpretative activity that permeates all human interpersonal relations, it is hardly to be expected that the specialized activity will be immune from the disagreements endemic to the wider field. Indeed, the possibility of disagreement is inherent in the practice of textual interpretation: for if a text needs to be interpreted at all, its meaning is not self-evident and there is always room for more than one account of what that meaning is. If it is possible to interpret, then it is also possible to misinterpret; and to claim that misinterpretation has taken place is to engage in the practice of interpretative disagreement. In itself, disagreement is an ethically neutral act. It does not necessarily imply that one party is doing violence to the other, that a human right to freedom of speech is under attack, or that there has been a failure to understand the other’s point of view. The ethical risks that accompany disagreement are perhaps no greater than those attending other practices, such as the avoidance of conflict. Disagreement is always an act rather than just an occurrence, and those who engage in it do so on the basis of means and ends they regard as appropriate and rational. Most important of all, disagreement presupposes a shared concern and thus an acknowledgment of community rather than a retreat into isolation. It always intends its own resolution, even if this can only be attained in the form of a negotiated compromise or an agreement to differ (24-25).'

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