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Re: [XTalk] Method, Method, Method

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  • Frank Jacks
    ... Rikk, Thanks for your contribution since I was beginning to wonder whether or not after forty years in the field that I was still missing something! In
    Message 1 of 5 , May 17, 2007
      Rikk Watts wrote:
      > Bob,
      > For what it's worth, I've always understood exegesis to be the more
      > practical subset (i.e. it actually works with specific texts and historical
      > cultural contexts) of hermeneutics which deals with the general theory of at
      > one end of what constitutes a text and how they communicate through to
      > larger philosophical-historical questions of meaning in general. Naturally,
      > the modes of thinking, language, and discourse common to each differ
      > significantly.
      > If there is a sociological dimension, perhaps one might say there's a very
      > general distinction between hands-on practitioners (usually involving a
      > particular set of specific skills to answer the question: what does this
      > text mean?) and the sometimes very technical theorizers (who deal with
      > philos and the history of philos in seeking to answer the question: is there
      > a general theory of meaning? Some like Vico and his followers would argue
      > that philos is actually a subset of history, so a philos of history can get
      > involved as well), with the former assuming (or not!, often unknowingly and
      > usually belatedly) the proposals of the latter. Sorry about that horrible
      > last sentence.
      > One can be interested in either or both, and in my classes on Interpretation
      > students get both. It's fascinating to watch individual student's interest
      > vary across topic.
      > Be interested in anyone else's comments.
      > Rikk

      Thanks for your contribution since I was beginning to wonder whether or
      not after forty years in the field that I was still missing something!
      In fact, I was considering whether to post my own contribution just to
      see if I was simply showing my ignorance, so I was reassured by your
      saying "out loud" what I would have said ... although I think that I
      will go ahead, if only to be able to confirm that we are here in
      agreement (???).

      For me, the difference between "hermeneutics" and "exegesis" is simply
      the difference between theory and practice. Thus, I see "hermeneutics"
      as being simply the theoretical considerations about how one does or
      should approach a text to understand it; hopefully, these reflections
      would function within the wider context of those philosophical
      considerations in the area of "epistemology," focused upon the
      particular issue about words (both spoken and written) and how one does
      or ought to understand them. Whereas "exegesis" would those processes
      by which one actually goes about seeking to understand particular
      statements, whether written or spoken (???).

      As for the interconnection, my possibly naive point of view is that I do
      not see how one could function adequately in either without some first
      hand (i.e. personal) knowledge and practice in the other. I am not sure
      that I could trust the exegetical results of any exegete who claimed to
      be operating without any commitment to or awareness about any of the
      more theoretical issues and problems involved, for fear that he or she
      was functioning within/upon some hermeneutic about which the
      practitioner was simply unaware (???). Conversely, I am not sure that I
      could trust the theoretical opinions of any hermeneut
      who had no personal experience in any particular field of exegesis,
      since that is what theory ought to be "talking about" (???).

      Well, Rikk, you asked for comments and now you have mine. I do hope that
      I have not just shown my ignorance; in fact, I rather hope that I have
      simply stated the obvious by putting in writing what is a commonplace in
      our discipline (???). If not, I would be most interested in hearing from
      someone about what they perceive to be my own short-coming or
      short-sightedness, if any ... as (hopefully) I am not yet too old to
      learn. (Smile!)

      Thanks, and most sincerely,


      Clive F. Jacks, Th.D. (Union Seminary, NYC)
      Professor of Religion, Emeritus
      Pikeville College
      Pikeville, KY

      (but now happily retired back home in the metro Atlanta area!)
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