While exegetical scholars typically invest great importance in the author’s intentions as a touchstone for valid interpretations, the phenomenon on which they rely entails more complications than a casual invocation seems to allow. As a case in point, the interpretation of Romans 7 – particularly 7:15 – seems to require that an interpreter account for unintentional expression and even unconscious motivation. Even interpreters who apply psychological insight to the interpretation of this passage, though, occlude relevant aspects of the psychology of the unconscious. As both the notion of “intention” and the role of the unconscious themselves defy elucidation, a model of deliberate authorial intention falls far short as the paradigmatic criterion of interpretive legitimacy.
Some biblical interpreters’ imaginations extend only as far as outlandish source theories or esoteric hypothetical audiences. The interpretive energies let loose in Glasgow over the past decade or so, however, have produced a cadre of interpreters who defy the disciplinary mandates of biblical criticisms in favour of reading the Bible with imaginations both careful and carefree. Infused with literary, political, art-critical, cinematic, liturgical and other interests, these essays display interpretive verve freed from the anxiety of disciplines — with closely observed insights, critical engagement with biblical texts, and vivid inspiration from the cultural world within which they are set.
Here there is no "gap" between world and text, but the intimate congeniality of close, dear, comfortable interpretive friends.
Contributors: Ben Morse, Hugh Pyper, Alastair Hunter, Hannah Strømmen, Jonathan C. P. Birch, Anna Fisk, Kuloba Wabyanga Robert, Samuel Tongue, A. K. M. Adam, Abigail Pelham, and the Religarts Collective (with Yvonne Sherwood).
A significant body of literature rests on the premise that the most propitious way of characterizing the way we interpret linguistic signs corresponds to the practices of encoding and decoding. A sender conceives a message, encodes it in linguistic signs, transmits the message (by voice, or in handwriting, or print, or digital media) and the recipient of the message decodes it. This model itself impedes progress in textual interpretation. An approach to hermeneutics that takes its cue from broader phenomena of perception, apprehension, and inference can provide a more illuminating theoretical discourse for evaluating contested interpretations, with the additional benefit that by changing the way that we view linguistic hermeneutics, we stand to integrate our endeavors more fully with the interpretation of art, music, ethics, and gestural action.