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

Fite, Frances Holden (2009)

Permanent URL:


Abstract 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

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 intent 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.

About this Dissertation

Rights statement
  • Permission granted by the author to include this thesis or dissertation in this repository. All rights reserved by the author. Please contact the author for information regarding the reproduction and use of this thesis or dissertation.
Subfield / Discipline
  • English
Research field
Committee Chair / Thesis Advisor
Committee Members
Last modified

Primary PDF

Supplemental Files