SCHEMA THEORY - A RESONANT HERMENEUTIC IN STORY/TEXTUAL NARRATIVE?
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Schema Theory: A Resonant Hermeneutic in Story/Textual Narrative?Paper presented to the 2011 Annual meeting of Aotearoa/New Zealand Association of Biblical Studies (ANZABS) at Christchurch, New ZealandJohn C. Douglas 5/12/2011
Abstract Scripture as story or textual narrative is approached via a broad-range of hermeneutical treatments, among which is Literary Theory. Literary theory, itself broad in assumptions is essentially; a systematic study of literatures nature, philosophy(s), analytical methods, and intentionality. Its theories, first formulated and tested in broader literary studies, have found-their-way into the analysis and applications of biblical text(s). Textual story, which generally reflects the intentionally of its 3-Rs . . . readers, writers, and redactors; also exists and interprets in community. Theory calls for schemata. Schema theory (Bartlett, 1932; Alba and Hasher, 1983; Rumelhart and Norman, 1983; Driscoll, 2000) was initially introduced to explain why people reconstruct a story when recalling it, so as to make more sense of it in terms of their own knowledge and experience. It holds schema is essentially; an organizing and orienting attitude that involves active arranging of past experience. This paper considers Schema Theorys potential contributions towards a community hermeneutic embracing considerations/contributions toward textual intentionally by writers, readers, and redactors.
John C. Douglas, Tauranga, New Zealand firstname.lastname@example.org
The meetings full schedule of presented papers can be viewed at http://anzabs.blogspot.com/
Schema Theory: a Resonant Hermeneutic in Story/Textual arrative?Scripture as Story or Textual arrative The concerns of this paper embrace reading, and hearing the textual narrative within an ongoing community-ecology. The scriptures as text are both existent and emergent narrative; constructed story and story in construction. Scriptures as canon were not formed, framed, or settled in a day; neither are the church's capacity and hermeneutical frameworks within which they are read. Both text and interpretation are co-participants in an ongoing journey. The Hebrew scriptures are generally thought to contain two major genres, narrative and poetry, and of course a variety of sub-genres.1 While addressing story within the overall canon from the Hebrew-end of the textual journey, it is clear that the New Testament is not the end of Hebrew textual journey. The young faith depicted in the second-part Lukan narrative continues, contextualises, and understands itself within its Theoergic2 passage. However, the entire Bible is relentlessly narratival3 The churchs reading of the Scriptures has usually presupposed its narrative unity, that is the whole Bible, or at least the Bible as read as a whole tells a coherent story;4 great idea, but one that is problematic. While the last two centuries scholarship has wrestled with the quandary it is heightened in recent development. Bauckham comments; The idea of reading Scriptures as a unified narrative seems problematic from at least two perspectives: (1) that of Bible scholars for whom a great diversity of the biblical texts makes the claim of unity inconsistent with the nature of the Bible, and (2) that of postmodern critics for whom a unified narrative would establish Christianity as the oppressive meta-narrative that historically it has often been.5W. Randolph Tate, Biblical Interpretation: An Integrated Approach, 3rd ed. (Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson Publishers, 2008), 74. Tremper Longman, Literary Approaches to Biblical Interpretation, Foundations of Contemporary Interpretation (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Academie Books, 1987), 76-83.2 3 1
Produced or activated by God (theo = God/Divine + ergic = activated/from ergon).
Walter Brueggemann, Theology of the Old Testament: Testimony, Dispute, Advocacy (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1997), 206. Richard Bauchham, "Reading Scripture as a Coherent Story," in The Art of Reading Scripture, ed. Ellen F. Davis and Richard B. Hays (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2003).5 4
The text of Scripture as literary narrative arises from the experience and interpretation of Gods revelatory voice and actions within the human family, the Hebrew nation, and the church as the newly constituted people of God called in Christ Story or Textual arratives Call for Hermeneutics Existent and emerging text continually calls for functional hermeneutics. Adequate and effective hermeneutics is not the exclusive concern or discipline of interpreters/readers, it is an inclusive concern; some form of hermeneutic is intentionally engaged in by all of the 3-Rs - readers, writers, and redactors. For along with readers, writers and redactors engage in hermeneutics, or through a hermeneutic. In essence, hermeneutical connections to a textnarrative originate with redactors and writers before they are made by readers; text-narrative is interpreted before it ever achieves written, let alone canonical form.6 While in a narrow sense hermeneutics is envisaged as a discipline that studies theories of interpretation, the terms utilization within biblical studies was first used with respect to interpretive methods and discussions of biblical interpretation.7 Nowadays the term has a broader use as the theory and art of interpreting any text. This broader philosophical consideration of hermeneutics has not only introduced some tensions into more traditional modes of interpreting biblical texts, it has also produced fruitful discussions; especially with the influences of post-modernity and broader academic research and praxis applications on the act of reading generally, the nature and authority of texts, and the relationship between theory and practice.8 We will leave hermeneutics now for a consideration of literary theory in
Joseph A. Fitzmyer, The Gospel According to Luke: Introduction, Translation, and otes, 1st ed., 2 vols., vol. 1 (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1981), 287-90. Arthur G. Patzia and Anthony J. Petrotta, Pocket Dictionary of Biblical Studies (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2002), 56.8 7
the consideration of hearing narrative we will return to Mercury and Middle-earth friends,9 who knows, maybe introduce some more interpretive tensions?
Literary Theory and arrative The typical features of literary category narrative: narrative voice and time, plot, setting, characterization, point of view, and style, are major parts of the Hebrew Bible; which can be read in much the same way as other narratives (I.e. novels or short stories), simply because the basic concepts of narrative are actualized in Hebrew-biblical narrative. The disciplines of literary theory and criticism are attentive in the presence of narrative. Literary criticism and theory approaches the biblical text recognising its literary nature and as such seeks to interpret the whole of the literary work, whether a psalm, a story that goes on for several chapters, or a book (I.e. Job). The narrative and its journey are centring-factors. It aims to see the parts in terms of the whole, not just as individual parts. Some literary critics assert that any literary work should be interpreted in and of itself without reference to any historical reconstruction; inferring the work itself contains most, if not all, of the necessary information for interpreting it.10 Patzia and Petrotta comment how; Discussions of plot, characterization and themes hold interest for the literary critic, not questions of authorship and date of composition. The danger of some forms of literary criticism is in losing sight of the historical grounding of these stories. The testimony of these stories is that God is acting in these events and lives; they are not simply plots and characters acting out their destiny.11 The Pontifical Biblical Commission (1994) advised literary critical and interpretive practitioners considering when they are working with the text from a narrative approach, it
The messenger/interpreter of the Greek gods, Hermes becomes known in the Roman pantheon of gods as Mercury (an early evidence of deed-poll?), while the leading schools in patristic hermeneutics (Alexandria and Antioch) were situated adjacent to the Mediterranean (apologies to J. R. Tolkien). For example, the story of Hosea's marriage to Gomer can be seen as a parable for the relationship between God and his people and need not be taken as a "historical" marriage, with its implicit problem of explaining the "uncomfortable" situation of God asking Hosea to marry a prostitute.11 10
Patzia and Petrotta, Pocket Dictionary of Biblical Studies, 73.
helps to distinguish methods of analysis, on the one hand, and theological reflection, on the other.12 The Commission further comments; Many analytic methods are in fact proposed today. Some start from the study of ancient models of narrative. Others base themselves upon present-day "narratology" in one or other of its forms, in which case there can often be points of contact with semiotics.13 Particularly attentive to elements in the text which have to do with plot, characterization and the point of view taken by a narrator, narrative analysis studies how a text tells a story in such a way as to engage the reader in its "narrative world" and the system of values contained therein.14 The movement into including, identifying, and interpreting narrative shift attention from reading the text linguistically, to hearing the text intentionally, actively, and integrativly calls for more than a shift of methods, but a broadening of available methodologies or applied theory. In this broadening movement, Tates descriptors are invaluable; The narrator is the voice through which the author tells the story. The narratee is the person to whom the narrator is telling the story. The narratee may