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Posted by on Apr 28, 2014 | 4 comments

Beyond Authorial Intention: What Does a Text “Really” Mean?

Beyond Authorial Intention: What Does a Text “Really” Mean?

This post explores how the philosopher Paul Ricoeur influenced the way we think of interpretation. What follows is a purely philosophical journey: I do not draw any theological implications, but it should hopefully become clear that there are important ones to be drawn. Our journey begins in the 19th century with the event called the “rise of historical consciousness.” Previously, when people used to read ancient writings, their attention was on the writing’s content; they assumed that the reader and author of a text were similar enough that communication could happen without too much difficulty. However, with historical consciousness, people started to notice more and more how differently people thought and spoke in other times and cultures. Because of this difference, they realised it was possible to misunderstand what someone meant while imagining you had understood. For example, the Bible tells us to love God. Our modern definition of “love” usually means how you feel, but in Bible times the word “love” was more of a decision about how to act....

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Posted by on Aug 29, 2013 | 5 comments

What does it mean to consider the birds?

What does it mean to consider the birds?

Several people have said to me that in my last post I did nothing but raise questions without offering answers. I had written that we need to think about why we trust the Bible, but I didn’t say what my own reasons were for doing so. To demonstrate why I thought the question so important, I used an example of a Bible verse difficult to interpret in keeping with our experience. In this post I’m not going to give reasons for trusting the Bible. Instead I’m going to offer my interpretation of Matthew 6, the problematic passage I picked on. Hopefully it’ll serve as a constructive example of how to hold Scripture and Experience tightly together. This is the Bible passage: Consider the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? … Therefore...

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