Literary approaches in the Biblical hermeneutics
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Literary approaches in the Biblical hermeneutics
Arapov Aleksandr Vladilenovich

Doctor of Philosophy

associate professor of the Department of Ontology and the Theory of Knowledge at Voronezh State University

394006, Russia, Voronezh, Universitetskaya ploschad 1
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The subject of the research is the literary approaches in the modern Biblical hermeneutics. The literary approaches to the Biblical narratives tend to concentrate on a text as a whole, including different components that are interconnected through the whole system of cross references and examples. Adherents of these approaches tend to construe the text as a whole. It has become very common for the modern literary narrative analysis to compare the Biblical texts with contemporary literature. And this reference to the modern literature is explained as follows. First, literature of this period helps to understand the problems and concepts of the narrative theory better. The modern narrative theories have been developed on the basis of the analysis of the narrative literature (especially novels) of the 19th and the first half of the 20th centuries. Thus, referring to the modern literature helps to understand that some aspects of the narrative theory can be fully applied only to the present-day narratives. And the attempts to apply them to the ancient narratives may sometimes lead to long and useless discussions. Second, comparison of the the modern narratives with the Biblical texts creates a wide perspective regarding the Biblical narrative analysis.  The following methods are used in the research: social and philosophical analysis, contrastive analysis, psychological analysis and general scientific methods. The social and philosophical analysis helped to find out the influence of social and political conditions on the next construal of the sacral texts. It helped to define the certain historical background of the development of the hermeneutical strategies.  There may be the following objection against the usage of the modern literary theories in the Biblical hermeneutics: the modern literary theories are not meant for the description of the ancient narratives, and so it is unnatural to apply the present-day concepts and categories to the ancient narratives. Two answers are possible to this objection.
The difference rests between ancient and present-day literary theories rather than between modern and ancient narratives. The ancient and modern theories just use different ways to describe the phenomena that are common for the ancient and modern narratives.
Of course, it does not mean that the hermeneutics must treat the ancient narratives as identical to the modern narratives or  ignore the literary conventions of the ancient narratives (genres and etc.) or must not view the Biblical narratives in the contest of the ancient Middle-East and Hellenistic literature. However it does not mean that the modern narrative theory should not be used to analyze a Biblical text.
The approaches that focus on the text (autonomistic) treat a literary work as a closed unit the sense of which can be fully understood through viewing the relations between its parts and which is autonomous regarding such out-of-text factors as the author’s intentions or the reader’s understanding. Such tendencies were typical for the Englich-American approach and reached the peak of their development in the “New Criticism” movement. That movement analyzed literature in the terms of its own internal principles and not through viewing such external factors as the author’s biography.This is quite a serious matter, because not only the Biblical narratives have deep roots in the social and historical context of their time, but also the majority of other narratives open their true sense only in connection with historical events and real people. The answer is to let the different points of view complete each other.
Concentrating our attention at the literary characteristics of a narrative does not exclude the necessity to understand of the cultural situation in which the text appeared, and the reviewing of literary forms that are contemporary to the text, and etc.

Keywords: Bible, hermeneutics, construal, semiotics, Algirdas Greimas, narratives, narrative analysis, structuralism, modernism, postmodernism
This article written in Russian. You can find full text of article in Russian here .

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