Bearers of a Narrative of Listening in the Age of Testimony: Determining Meaning for Genesis 34 Open Access

Fite, Frances Holden (2009)

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Bearers of a Narrative of Listening in the Age of Testimony:
Determining Meaning for Genesis 34
Frances H. Fite
In this dissertation, I critique what I perceive to be a lack in the method of
determining meaning currently in use in Biblical Studies in the United States, in that the
current dialogical method not only fails to take into account adequately the role of
subjectivity in the determination of a meaning for a biblical text and but also in that it
allows little or no room for subjectivities other than those within the interpretive circle of
specialist readers to be decisive in the determination of meaning for a biblical text. My
assertion about the inadequacy of such an approach to biblical interpretation is based on
the systematic murder of six million Jews in Europe, a horror which was constructed and
carried out by Christians, whose views of the Bible had been informed by the
determinations of an educated elite in dialogue with each other; in other words, on the
basis of a method of meaning-determination which the Holocaust has shown to be
destructive when it comes to determining meanings for biblical texts. This way of
determining meaning creates hermeneutical problems because the situations of characters
who are not front and center in a biblical text often are misinterpreted and consequently
so is the entire situation depicted in the text. The change to interpretative method which I
recommend is the addition of accounts of and by people whose situations resemble those
of characters who are marginalized and silenced in biblical texts. Using their testimonies
or stories about them provides the means by which a text can be understood more fully.
In this way, this method affords the opportunity of making better sense of the text as
whole. In connection with this approach, I emphasize translation because translators
cannot endlessly engage in the deferral of meaning, but must decide on a meaning and, as
the Holocaust makes clear, the meanings they decide on have consequences in the lives
of actual human beings.

Table of Contents


Page 1 Chapter 1
Subjectivity and the interpretive process

Page 37 Chapter 2
Necessary groundwork

Page 93 Chapter 3
The effects of interpretive desire on interpretations of Genesis 34

Page 146 Chapter 4
Sociological models and the determination of meaning

Page 194 Chapter 5
The role of presuppositions in the determination of meaning

Page 251 Chapter 6
Making sense of Genesis 34 in terms of a proposed authorial

Page 304 Chapter 7
Seeing Shechem: developing social linguistic
consciousness/transfer competence

Page 353 Chapter 8
The power and persistence of institutionalized knowledge

Page 387 APPENDIX 1
Elisabeth Fritzl's Story

Page 391 APPENDIX 2
Translations of LXX, Old Latin, the Vulgate, and the
Targums Neofiti, Onkelos, and Pseudo-Jonathon.

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