Iron and Bronze. The tribe of Dan

Ian Hutchesson mc2499 at
Tue Sep 17 22:38:58 EDT 2002


>DKS: My decision to bring the notion of prophecy into [Gen 49:16] is not by
>any means eisegesis.  

I'd say that I jumped on the notion of prophetic 
speaking without making clear that it was the 
actual interpretation of the verse offered, ie 
that "Dan will judge according to the Torah", 
which I considered eisegesis. It is this 
"according to the Torah" which I don't think can 
be justified from the text itself.

>To allow presuppositions to lead one to contradict the
>clear meaning of a text is a definition of eisegesis.  

I was using a simpler definition of the term, 
ie to read meaning into a text (rather than 
extract it from the text).

Although you said that you were "interpreting 
the text as the text reads", I see no way to go 
from k'xd $b+y y$r'l ("as a tribe of Israel") to 
the interpretation you supply ("according to the 
Torah"), hence my statement about eisegesis. 
Perhaps you could supply the linguistics to get 
to your interpretation from the text itself.

>What we need to do
>is to be conscious of our presuppositions, and then interpret the text
>without violating linguistic principles.  

We may have different ideas about what constitutes 
violating linguistic principles here. I think we 
must accept the notion that the language used in 
the text points to the meaning that the writer 
wanted to convey to his audience, whether we 
modern readers are able to understand that meaning 
or not. (The writer may indeed be deliberately 
obscurant in his approach, as in Daniel, yet his 
audience must still be able to extract his meaning 
otherwise the author is communicating, though I 
think we can assume communication is the intent.) 
I have talked about "normal" significances for 
words and the necessity for alternative 
significances to have some signaling in order for 
them to have any relevance to a given reading, ie 
you have to justify alternative readings of terms 
from the linguistics of the text, working from the 
notion that the writer is attempting to 
communicate that meaning to his audience through 
that text.

>We also need to be open to
>adjusting our presuppositions to fit what we encounter in the text -- but
>realistically we both know that doesn't often happen.

Sadly true, but that doesn't mean that we should 
give in to the tendency. I have seen writers who 
are upfront about their presuppositions and who 
attempt to *circumvent* them in order to have a 
better chance of reclaiming something from the 
original text/culture they are working with. (An 
example which comes to mind is Eugene Ulrich's 
"The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Origins of the 
Bible", Eerdmans/Brill, 1999.)


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