Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Resonant Reading

. . . we must of course guard agains over-exegesis.  Under-exegesis, though, is also risky, sometimes even more so .  Historical exegesis is not simply a matter of laying out the lexicographical meanings of words and sentences.  It involves exploring the resonances those words and sentences would have had in their contexts.  Like anthropologists learning a language and culture simultaneously, we have to be prepared to hear more in a word or phrase than could be caught by a dictionary equivalent.  A small saying can function like a spyglass through which one can glimpse a large and turbulent world.  To object to this exercise, whether through pedantry or positivism, is like protesting that houses, fields and ships cannot be contained within the physical body of a telescope.
From NT Wright, JVG, xvii

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