[b-hebrew] Let's all take a deep breath...

particle wave particle.wave at gmail.com
Mon Apr 16 15:32:15 EDT 2007

Greetings folks,

I'm new to this list and have seen things getting rather heated
lately.  I think that it's important to remember the distinction
between "Does the grammar of the text support this reading of it" and
"Is this the True meaning of the text."

When someone comes forward with a question saying, essentially, "Based
on the tradition I follow, I see this phrase as meaning X - does the
structure of the text support this reading?" it doesn't necessarily
mean that if you say yes that you are then obligated to believe that
their view is the authoritative reading - just that the text supports
that as a viable interpretation from a linguistic point of view.

Answering this question should be a grammatical exercise, not a
theological one. It may well be that the text could support that
reading but the tradition one follows does not. I think that it's
important to remeber that it's ok to say that yes the text structure
could support that reading though you have a cultural precedent that
says that it does not.  Saying that the text could support that
reading does not by necessity invalidate one's own views or readings
of it or declare that reading to be authoritative. This isn't to say
that the interpretive traditions of one or another religious group
aren't helpful in attempting to dissect the meanings of troublesome
passages but for the purposes of this forum I think it's important to
treat them as just that - interprative traditions.  The minute we get
into "well this one is right because my people believe it's true and
your people refuse to see it" the whole discussion collapses into
pointless and potentially endless theological sniping.

I guess that what I'm getting at is that people are getting very
defensive and hostile and taking "could the text support this" as "is
this the True meaning of the text." These are very different questions
and in the context of this forum I think that maintaining that
distinction is critical if any useful discussion is to occur. To
declare invalid an interpretation purely because it is at odds with
one's own cultural or theological views on the subject obviates the
whole point of the list.


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