I have just finished reading a book by Anthony Thiselton. Yes! thats right I read it from cover to cover… only pausing once or twice to re-read a sentence or two. I think that this means I am a bona fide Scholar….
However, it wasn’t one of his well known Horizons books. I must confess that I have tried reading them but i always get the I-am-swimming-through-thick-stodgy-boiling-treacle feeling. However this recent book, a mighty tome coming in at 26 pages, has been a pleasure to read. It is called Can the Bible Mean Whatever We Want it to Mean? . It is an absolute gem of a book(let) which is based on his inaugural lecture at University College Chester and it only costs a couple of quid. I heartily recommend it for those who want a whistlestop tour of current hermeneutical challengers and approaches. I will leave you with a juicy quote which I found helpful about his response to some reader-response approaches to the biblical text,
readers determine the meaning….. In reply, I believe that genre is a key critical factor. Reader-response theorists have a point when we are considering what Lotman and Umberto Eco call ‘open texts’. These are often, but not always, parables, poetry, hymnic texts or psalms, and sometimes part of the wisdom literature. Lotman and Eco call them ‘productive’ texts, because they may serve to tease, seduce, and provoke the reader into active thought. But many texts in the Bible are not poetic, symbolic, parabolic or hymnic. They are prophetic, apostolic, didactic, creedal, or historic reports, and these are transmissive, communicative texts….. As in most didactic communication, the utterance is operative when the ‘receiver’ grasps what the ‘sender’ sends through the media of source, code, contact, message and receiver. (page 12)