Wednesday, 11 February 2009

The canonical portrayal: It's hermeneutical concerns

This thread continues my theological analysis of Seitz's recently published Prophecy and Hermeneutics. For an introduction and overview of the thread thus far, go here.

According to Seitz,
the hermeneutical concerns of the canonical portrayal of the prophets can be understood as tuned … to questions of religious apprehension, but less in the name of identification with the prophetic personality and more in terms of the message of the prophetic corpus as a totality (85).
In other words, not only the original prophetic message but also its reception and further interpretation were orientated to a theological referent. This means, first of all, that the text has a diachronic depth-dimension which must be respected and taken into account when doing exegesis. One must take into account, for example, original intentionality. Thus, it is one thing to claim that Jonah is a chronologically late book. It is another thing, however, to evaluate this reality. For Seitz, it is especially crucial to assess a later author's possible intention to create a work of prophecy

in relationship to prophecy as this is known and received in his own day, that is, prophecy as a stable literary legacy” (142, original emphasis removed).
If so, the result would be that the prophetic author wanted us to associate his text meaningfully with other literary works in a specific canonical context. It is failure to take this dimension of prophecy as a historical phenomenon seriously that mars von Rad's account:

von Rad ignores as a properly historical dimension the final form of individual prophetic books—and also the prophetic canon itself—as communicating a crucial dimension of prophetic history” (49).
Seitz's emphasis on intentionality also excludes pure reader-response approaches to Scripture, for him a form of scepticism which supplies “linkages in front of and not behind the material form of the witness” (240).

The role of the diachronic dimension in Seitz's approach will be looked at in my next post.

No comments: