Reading Scripture in the Old Testament: Deuteronomy 9-10, 31, 2 Kings 22-23, Jeremiah 36, Nehemiah 8

By G. J. Venema | Go to book overview

Chapter 7

Mimemata

J'aurais aimé qu'il y ait derrière moi (ayant pris depuis
bien longtemps la parole, doublant à l'avance tout ce que
je vais dire) une voix qui parleravt ainsi: 'Il faut conti-
nuer je ne peux pas continuer, il faut continuer, il faut
dire des mots tant qu'il y en a, il faut les dire jusqu'à ce
qu'ils me trouvent, jusqu'à ce qu'ils me disent – étrange
peine, étrange faute, il faut continuer, c'est peut-être
déjà fait, ils m'ont peut-être déjà dit, ils m'ont peut-être
porté jusqu' au seuil de mon histoire, devant la porte qui
s'ouvre sur mon histoire, ça m'étonnerait si elle s'ouvre
.'

M. Foucault, L'ordre du discours, n.p. 1971, 8.

In the course of time, exegetes, literary scholars, philosophers and others have continually chosen new positions in order to find out what a text says, how it says it, and under what conditions it is possible to define the meaning of what is said. The objectivistic approach searches 'behind' the text, to find the situation in which it originated and especially what the author intended to say. An example of this approach is the work of E.D. Hirsch, who asserts that the absolute meaning of a text may be established by looking for the author's intention.1 Although complete certainty on this score can never be attained, it is nevertheless possible to objectively establish the one 'meaning' that should be distinguished from the many and varying interpretations ('significances'), according to Hirsch.2 From the preceding chapters it will have become clear that I do not share this view, which however does not mean that there are no arguments in favour of this approach. In the first place, there is the desire mentioned

1 E.D. Hirsch, Validity in Interpretation, New Haven 1967. Hirsch distin-
guishes 'meaning' and 'significance'. 'Meaning', i.e., 'the author's intended
meaning', he links to understanding; 'significance', however, has to do with
interpretation. '… the historicity of interpretation is quite distinct from the
timelessness of understanding.' (137) Hirsch will not go so far as to speak of
'verification', but does view the determination of 'meaning' as an objective
process: 'Validity implies the correspondence of an interpretation to a mean-
ing which is represented by the text,…' (10; cf. 170ff.). See also E.D. Hirsch,
The Aims of Interpretation, Chicago 1976, 1ff.

2 See M.B. van Buuren, Filosofie van de algemene literatuurwetenschap,
Leiden 1988, 106ff., who points to the mystification that results from the
'intentional fallacy' in Hirsch's work.

-218-

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Reading Scripture in the Old Testament: Deuteronomy 9-10, 31, 2 Kings 22-23, Jeremiah 36, Nehemiah 8
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Oudtestamentische StudiËn - Old Testament Studies ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface ix
  • Introduction xi
  • Part One - Reading 1
  • Chapter 1 - The Hidden Words – Deuteronomium 9:7–10:11; 31:9–13, 24–26 3
  • Chapter 2 - The Discovered Book – 2 Kings 22:1–23:30 47
  • Chapter 3 - Controversial Statements – Jeremiah 36 95
  • Chapter 4 - Scripture Opened – Nehemiah 8 138
  • Part Two - Re-Reading 183
  • Chapter 5 - Connections 185
  • Chapter 6 - Cross-References 202
  • Chapter 7 - Mimemata 218
  • Bibliography, Abbreviations, Indices 231
  • Bibliography 233
  • Abbreviations 259
  • Index of Authors 260
  • Index of Biblical Texts 265
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