Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Overcoming Interperative Biases

"Whenever we try to understand the thought of a text (or of another person, for that matter), if we are to understand it critically - that is, not in some arbitrary fashion, but with sound reasons, and as the author meant it in the first place - we must first of all grasp the nature and degree of the differences that separate our understanding from the understanding of the text. Only then can we profitably fuse our horizon of understanding of the text - that is, only then can we begin to shape our thoughts by the thoughts of the text so that we truly understand them. Failure to go through the distanciation before the fusion usually means there has been no real fusion: the interpreter thinks he knows what the text means, but all to often he or she has simply imposed his own thoughts onto the text."

From Exegetical Fallacies by D. A. Carson, 2nd ed. p.24.

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