May 17, 2008

Ken Schenk on Theological Versus Inductive Readings

Ken Schenck has an interesting post on the distinction between theological and inductive hermeneutical approaches. Schenck notes three distinctions (which I have only listed, see the post for additional explanation of each).

1. Its fundamental method is deductive rather than inductive.
2. It does not aim at the most likely interpretation given the evidence but on the interpretation that best fits with its presuppositions.
3. Theological hermeneutics is a species of reader response criticism.

While I think at a general level there is some validity to three distinctions, I wonder whether it is as either/or as the post seems to imply. What I mean is this. Theological interpretation presumably begins with inductive interpretation at some point. In other words, the theological presuppositions which might be brought to bear on a given text were not created out of nothing, but probably created out of an inductive reading of the text. I see both theological and inductive readings to be part of the hermeneutical spiral in which inductive readings challenge theological presuppositions and theological presuppositions are brought to bear on inductive readings. That being said, I would encourage you to read Schenck's entire post.

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