Next Horizon

Next on my menu of overdue obligations are two essays, one about half finished and one entirely unbegun. Luckily, they’re on (tangentially) related topics. The first is on Anglican biblical hermeneutics. In that essay I’ll be arguing that the vital heart of Anglican biblical hermeneutics in the interval at which people look back with nostalgia — the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries — was characterised by apparently unified hermeneutical practice not so much because of any unifying ideology as by a combination of contingent cultural and political factors.
Remember that these centuries include the English Reformation, the Scottish Reformation, the Wars of the Three Kingdoms (the British Civil Wars), the Monmouth Rebellion, the so-called Glorious Revolution, and the Jacobite resistance; while these were not necessarily determined by theology or biblical interpretation, the Bible certainly figured in these conflicts, conflicts that cost roughly a half million lives (perhaps 10% of the population of England). In this atmosphere, theologians who inclined either toward the rigorous Reformation or toward the more conformist or Laudian side will all still be reading the Bible in mostly the same hermeneutical way — just with divergent investments. (The right answer, bei mir, is ‘the same’ (that is, ‘effectively similar’) Prayerbook and translated Bible; the same, geographically small political entity (‘England-and-Wales’); the same educational system (Oxford and Cambridge plus schools), and a cultural outlook that favours literature and rhetoric over empirical sciences. Rhetoric evaporates through the nineteenth century; the colonies begin pushing back against the homeland; translations and adaptations of both Bible and Prayerbook/liturgy begin to destabilise their influence on biblical interpretation; education begins to extend to a wider populace, through more diverse institutions, and evolves to include further areas of study — no wonder biblical interpretation is less centred from the ineteenth century onward.

Oh, and I ran my 1.6 this morning in 12° (suddenly feels very chilly), and have been working on my study of rhetoric. And I’ll write about interdisciplinarity to take breaks.

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