Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Terminology Tuesday: Reader-Response Theory of Hermeneutics

Reader-Response Theory of Hermeneutics: A postmodern form of literary criticism that explores the capacity of the biblical texts to shape, revise or confirm the expectations readers bring to their reading of the text. This approach challenges the assumption of much of modern hermeneutics that the main task of exegesis is to approach the text as a disinterested exegete and to determine, through the use of scientific strategies of interpretation, the intent of the original author of the text. Reader-response theorists, in contrast, maintain that the reader and the text are interdependent. What is important then is not so much the intent of the original author of the text but the "conversation" between reader and text that emerges in the reading of the text.1

1. Stanley J. Grenz, David Guretzki & Cherith Fee Nordling, Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1999), p. 99.


bbrown said...

Interesting that there would even be such a school. Seems obvious to me that the original intent is what is important. The "Reader-Response" school seems like just a sloppy, lazy way to interpret a text.

dgfisch said...

I understand what exegesis is. But isn't the "reader-response" method called eisegesis, a reading of one's opinion into an established meaning?

MaryLou said...

What strikes me about it is that it is "me-oriented" instead of God-oriented. And yes, dgfisch, it's eisegesis which means you can interpret the Bible to mean whatever you want it to mean and nobody can criticize you for it because truth is unknowable. Their "truth" is as good as anybody else's. It's subjective, not objective. That's postmodernism in a nutshell.

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