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AKMA’s meaning

I just noticed in AKMA‘s sidewall the published version of an essay of his that I’d seen (and blogged about) in draft a couple of years ago. It’s on the ethics of interpretation, and it’s a beautiful piece of work. AKMA is such a fine writer. For example, here he’s explaining the idea (that he does not agree with) that a text has meaning even when people don’t know what it is:

The presence of a cement floor in my basement provides sufficient evidence for me to infer the existence of its opposite side; the presence of a text in my hand provides sufficient evidence for me to infer the existence of its meaning.

AKMA is trying to find a ground between saying there is one right interpretation of a text (particularly the Christian Bible) and saying every interpretation must be taken as valid:

A differential hermeneutic permits practitioners to see in interpretive variety a sign of the variety in human imagination (in establishing historical facts as well as in drawing theological inferences), to account positively for difference among interpreters, to envision the practice of biblical interpretation less as a contest of experts and more as the shared effort of Christian communities, and at the same time to provide clearer, more specific and more modest criteria for correctness and legitimacy in interpretation.

…practitioners of differential hermeneutics observe that the act of offering an interpretation involves not only the author and the text but also one’s interpretive colleagues and the audience of the interpretation. interpretation. Hence, interpreters must devise interpretations that are accountable not only to text and author but also to rival interpreters and audiences.

AKMA is such a Jew! : )

One Response to “AKMA’s meaning”

  1. You sure don’t see the word, “hermeneutic” pop up every day!

    The idea that interpretation is a social, not solitary, activity is one that’s important to me as well. This doesn’t mean that it’s not possible to be “idiosyncratic,” just that that word itself already points to the others who are on the horizon of any idea.

    I alluded to a similar line of thinking in a blog entry a couple of months ago.

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