Posted: Jul 25, 2013 1:32 am
by spin
neilgodfrey wrote:
spin wrote:
RealityRules wrote:
The first thing one must do with a text is place it in context:
    Is it a text supported by other texts; other accounts of the time?
    Is it supported by other things - artifacts; objects; archaeology?
Only then can one determine if it ought to be or can be read literally.

Sure one can evaluation in light of others' evaluations/interpretations, but one ought to work from first principles

Seriously, you can't do very much at all unless you first try to read a text literally. Unless the text is epigraphy there is nothing else you can do. You have to contend with what the text says. There are varying degrees of proficiency in doing so.

Before we know how to ready any text we need to establish its provenance, and one major reason we need its provenance is to guide us in knowing how to do a basic literary analysis on it so we can figure out exactly what sort of text it is. (We generally do these things subconsciously and within microseconds in relation to texts we are familiar with.)

"Let's establish the provenance of this text."
"How do we do that?"
"Well, first let's look at it closely."
"Which edition?"
"The first, of course."
"Oh, you mean the 1867 edition."
"No, the actual document."
"But we don't have that. It was lost centuries ago. What'll we do?"
"Let's read the Loeb apparatus. It'll give us clues."
"OK, we've got some clues. What do they tell us about provenance of the text?"
"Well, we know where the earliest manuscripts reside.... I know! Let's get some critical analyses."
"Hey, wow. There's a lot of stuff written by these religious scholar guys about the text."

Still no provenance. But then, so many of the texts we have to deal with don't yield up their provenance in any substantive way whatsoever. There is no substitute for reading the text to get what can be found out about it and that includes first literally.

neilgodfrey wrote:The assumption that a literal reading of a text is somehow the most "authentic" is a naivety that has led to all sorts of misdirections.

I made the point that reading certain parts of Galatians literally rather than through the eyes of later tradition leads one to come to very different ideas, to conflict between later tradition and what Paul says. I think that is significant. I'm really sorry, if you don't like that, but it is a waste of a reader's time--if they are in the business of evaluating a text for what it says and how it fits into a context--not to attempt to find out what it says as closely as they can, which entails reading it literally among other things. Without doing so, you have no hope of contextualizing it. So go ahead, don't read what a text says literally and see what you can say that is useful about it. Nothing, of course, because you haven't actually read it.

Later traditional interpretation of a text is only another layer of mystification of the text, to be removed if you don't want to face all sorts of misdirections. The problem is that we come with much of that later traditional interpretation already built in, through the long effects of christian cultural dominance, so a literal reading is inherently harder to get. To start afresh you have to get back to the literal reading.