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Presuppositions and Interpretation. 1. Reality and Universality of Presuppositions Every reading has a reference point. Facts/observations made sense.

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Presentation on theme: "Presuppositions and Interpretation. 1. Reality and Universality of Presuppositions Every reading has a reference point. Facts/observations made sense."— Presentation transcript:

1 Presuppositions and Interpretation

2 1. Reality and Universality of Presuppositions Every reading has a reference point. Facts/observations made sense of from this reference point

3 1. Reality and Universality of Presuppositions “Reflection demands mental categories, and these are built upon one’s presupposed worldview and by the faith or reading community to which one belongs.” (Osborne, The Hermeneutical Spiral, 412)

4 2. Distinctions a. Terms (1) Presupposition (or Preunderstandings) Any preconception of reality/truth that is part of one’s thinking as one comes to interpret the Bible (or any text). It includes what one understands the text to mean from previous readings (preunderstanding). According to Osborne, presuppositions are positive components of interpretation and are only potentially negative.

5 2. Distinctions a. Terms (2) Prejudice The denigration of a presupposition into an “a priori grid” that then predetermines what the text can or does mean. (cf. Osborne, 412)

6 b. Five Types of Tradition (from Gordon Fee, Gospel and Spirit, ch.5) (1) Oral and early written stage of the New Testament (upon which NT is based): the tradition of Christ and his apostle (2) Early church tradition which reflected upon the NT and made explicit its teaching on a variety of issues (Trinity, canon, etc.)

7 b. Five Types of Tradition (3) Later church tradition which holds an official/authoritative role in the church (5) The interpreter’s personal history, experience, etc. that condition him/her (4) The individual traditions of the various streams of Protestantism

8 3. What to Do with Presuppositions? a. Acknowledge their Existence

9 3. What to Do with Presuppositions? “The Bible must be read and made sense of, by the traditions (theological and otherwise) within which we stand as interpreters. The idea that it is possible to step back entirely from these influences and achieve a pure reading of the text, therefore, is one which must be shown up for the self-deception that it is…Simple appeals to ‘what the Bible says’ are always the sign of (no doubt unconscious) subservience to an interpretative tradition, not liberation from it. That which we mistakenly think we have escaped from is in reality free to exercise all the more influence over us, and is therefore all the more potentially dangerous” (Trevor Hart, Faith Thinking, 167).

10 3. What to Do with Presuppositions? a. Acknowledge their Existence b. Become More Aware of Them How?

11 b. Become More Aware of Them How? (1) Become a Student of the Biblical World (a cross-cultural experience!) (3) Dialogue with Others (e.g., Blomberg’s essay) (2) Use Good Hermeneutical Principles

12 “The ability to hear texts through the ears of other traditions may serve as one of the best exegetical or hermeneutical correctives we can bring to the task” (Fee, 79).

13 3. What to Do with Presuppositions? a. Acknowledge their Existence b. Become More Aware of Them c. Evaluate Them in Light of Scripture

14 4. So What is the Goal of Interpretation? Can we have authorial meaning (as an objective entity) as our goal in light of the reality of our presuppositions?

15 4. So What is the Goal of Interpretation? a. Important distinction: Absolute knowledge vs. adequate knowledge “Polyvalent attitude” vs. Polyvalent meaning (Osborne) Hermeneutic of humility and conviction (Van Hoozer) b. Necessity of humility of our own limited perspective in interpretation


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