A HERMENEUTIC CRITIQUE OF STRUCTURALIST EXEGESIS, WITH SPECIFIC REFERENCE TO LK 10.29-37

SANDRA WACKMAN PERPICH, Marquette University

Abstract

The proper model for biblical studies is both exegetical and hermeneutical, grounded in the sequential unfolding of explanation and interpretation. Karl Rahner's theology provides a convenient framework within which to integrate these different tasks. Rahner's description of the interrelationship between divine transcendence and categorical existence motivates a pattern for biblical theology from which to establish a model for biblical interpretation. This model selectively incorporates insights from the structuralist analytic, and from a phenomenology of language that presumes the discursive operations of narrative texts. Although structuralism and hermeneutics seem to be governed by conflicting presuppositions, they are in practice mutually complementary. Chapter I delineates the frame for this complementarity, summarizing the main principles of Rahner's theology of mystery. A correspondence exists between Rahner's mystagogy, and a bivalent program for biblical hermeneutics. Chapter II presents structuralist theory from historical (e.g., Saussure, Propp, Jakobson), philosophical (e.g., Barthes, Levi-Strauss) and conceptual (e.g., Bremond, Greimas, Todorov) perspectives. Chapter III implements this theory with specific reference to Lk 10.29-37, the Good Samaritan text. This practical application discloses both the benefits and limitations of structural analysis. Structuralism's failure to elucidate the text exhaustively indicates its need for a hermeneutic complement. Chapter IV examines categories from Paul Ricoeur's philosophy that pertain to a correlation between structuralism and hermeneutics. Ricoeur's theories of polyvalence, discourse and metaphor contribute to his model for hermeneutics. This model demands a text exegetical explanation and existential interpretation. Chapter V extends Ricoeur's basic categories by appealing to works by W. Iser (re the phenomenology of reading) and S. Wittig (re plurisignification); and it offers a hermeneutic review of Lk 10.29-37 based on the exegetical data of Chapter III. Structural analysis uncovers the syntagmatic incompletion of the text. Chapter V demonstrates how this incompletion operates as a heuristic device, to engage the reader in the act of interpretation. Thus, the syntagmatic incompletion uncovered by structural analysis becomes the means for the reader's hermeneutic self-discovery. Structural analysis explicates textual meaning, while existential interpretation implicates the reader in this meaning's significance.

Recommended Citation

SANDRA WACKMAN PERPICH, "A HERMENEUTIC CRITIQUE OF STRUCTURALIST EXEGESIS, WITH SPECIFIC REFERENCE TO LK 10.29-37" (January 1, 1981). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. Paper AAI8217285.
http://epublications.marquette.edu/dissertations/AAI8217285

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