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Subject Religion

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631181392.1995.x


[ xiii.c ] The theory of understanding or interpretation, especially of biblical ( see B ible ), philosophical and literary texts. Although interpreters had long been aware of the need to determine rules for valid exegesis if alien meanings were not to be read into texts, the development of historical consciousness, from the 18th century onwards, added a new dimension to the problem. It came to be questioned whether a person of one culture could grasp the original meaning of texts produced in a different culture. The classical hermeneutic response argues that an interpreter can re-experience the mental processes of a text's author and so apprehend the meaning of the text because both author and interpreter share a common humanity. Recently this hermeneutic principle has been questioned on the grounds that it may fail to reflect adequately the fundamental differences of awareness produced by different cultures. Other studies have argued that understanding is an art: it cannot be produced simply by observing rules, because of the socalled ‘hermeneutical circle’ – namely the recognition that the meaning of a text as a whole and the meaning of each of its parts are reciprocally related since the apprehension of the one depends upon the apprehension of the other. [19] ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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