«THE RECEPTION HISTORY OF 2 THESSALONIANS WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO JOHN CHRYSOSTOM, HAIMO OF AUXERRE, AND JOHN CALVIN ANDREW RHETT TALBERT, B.A., ...»
Furthermore, asserting that a text communicates a “timeless truth” would require a readerly position outside of history.188 It is more appropriate to speak of “multiply-timed” or “all-timed” truth. “In place of the work as a carrier or manifestation of truth comes the progressive concretisation of meaning, which is constituted in the convergence of text and reception, from a given work structure and appropriated interpretation.”189 This understanding of textually articulated truth sees it as an event in which readers participate and by which they are addressed. For a theological hermeneutic, this thesis impinges on both pneumatology (i.e. the Holy Spirit’s work in communicating truth) and a concept of Scripture as “Word of God.” For example, even if one accepts the address of God as coming from beyond time through the Scriptures, it is actualized and understood temporally.190 If there is such a thing as a “timeless truth,” we do not have access to it.191 Ibid., 16–17.
Jauss, Toward an Aesthetic, 30.
See Thiselton in Roger Lundin, Clarence Walhout, and Anthony Thiselton, The Promise of Hermeneutics (Cambridge: Eerdmans, 1999), 198. Thiselton also offers a substantial critique of “timelessnees” and its grounding in Platonist metaphysics. Thiselton, Two Horizons, 95–101.
Parris, Reception Theory, 282–93.
Hans Robert Jauss, “Der Leser als Instanz einer neuen Geschichte der Literatur,” Poetica 7 (1975): 335. Translation mine.
This discussion extends too far beyond the scope of this work. Barth’s theological hermeneutic with the normative role of Scripture as “the concrete medium by which the 5.) Part of understanding a text’s historicity necessitates situating it within a literary series in order to gauge its effects and aesthetic quality. In this way, Jauss organizes the dialogue of the above thesis chronologically.
Examining any interpretation of a text within this literary series (i.e. its place in literary history) reveals how it confronted the horizon of expectations at the time of its appearance by disclosing the questions left behind by previous works to which the new work sought an answer. It follows from this that one must temporarily “canonise” the works in this literary series and perceive the history of a work in terms of diachrony. This broader view of history allows for a “virtual significance,” or potential meaning, of the text, which the initial horizon did not allow, thereby accounting for the unfolding of meaning over time. New receptions of the text are new in both aesthetic and historical dimensions: aesthetic in the assumed axiological aim of offering an interpretation of past receptions; historical in the sense that they constitute the history of the work in the form of an ongoing dialogue.192 Reconstructing the horizons of expectation at various moments of reception enables one to read from another perspective— a different question than their own—and to expand their understanding. This expansion occurs in the provocation of their horizon of expectation through an experience that does not match with their expectation.193 Church recalls God’s revelation in the past, is called to expect revelation in the future, and is thereby challenged, empowered, and guided to proclaim,” is a positive direction for potentially extending reception history. Barth, Church Dogmatics, 1.1:124.
Parris, Reception Theory, 171. For an discussion on “timelessness” in hermeneutics, see Thiselton, Two Horizons, 95–101.
Jauss, Toward an Aesthetic, 35.
It is in this expansion, the horizontal shift, that Jauss argues truth is recovered. Jauss, Question and Answer, 201.
6.) In addition to diachrony, an aesthetics of reception views literary history in terms of synchrony, thereby revealing the changes in interpretation that have occurred over time. By looking at a moment in history during a text’s reception, the reader can see the forms, influences, genres, and contemporary works of a particular reception, which illuminate particular “epoch-making” moments in the reception of a text. This thesis delineates the
Rezeptionsästhetik.194 Jauss incorporates this division from the linguistics of Saussure, who distinguished between the diachronic development of language and the static consequences that have nothing to do with the development.195 In the same way, a diachronic perspective of history looks at the broad scope of how events have unfolded, whereas a synchronic perspective explores the context of a static historical “moment.” Put slightly differently, texts are both influenced by works that preceded them and, in contemporaneity, to “their own particular history or time curves.”196 The history of biblical interpretation depicts the notion of synchronic, epochal moments represented quite well. As an example, the “man of sin/lawlessness” (2 Thess 2:3-9) has been taken as a reference to “Antichrist,” despite the absence of that term from the passage.197 Through history, theologians have undertood this as a man typified by Nero, the son of Satan, numerous people under a single title, a nebulous being, and even the papacy.
In each of these readings, converging contextual elements led to their appearance in the history of 2 Thessalonians. Looking at these interpretations Thiselton, Hermeneutics, 318.
de Saussure, Course in General Linguistics, 81–84.
Parris, Reception Theory, 143.
This interpretation is as early as Irenaeus, Against Heresies 5.28.2 (ANF 1:557) diachronically helps the reader to see the general history of reception, while looking at them synchronically returns to them the aesthetic character they have in relation to contemporaneous works, how they would have confronted the horizons of expectation, and why they became “epochal” moments in interpretation.
7.) The final thesis describes the completion of literary history’s task when it recognises itself as “special history” with a unique relationship to general history. It must, however, move beyond a “value-neutral representation” of history by advocating lived praxis in terms of the “socially formative function of literary texts.”198 As Jauss puts it: “The social function of literature manifests itself in its genuine possibility only where the literary experience of the reader enters into the horizon of expectations of his lived praxis, preforms his understanding of the world, and thereby also has an effect on his social behavior.”199 Literature cannot merely stand in history as a piece of art, the effects of which end at the conclusion of the reading process.
Rather, it must enter into the horizon of expectation of the reader, reshape their understanding of the world, and result in a change in social behaviour.
It is of immediate importance to Jauss to include literary history as part of art history. Literature has the reader as its aim and is released to undergo engagement in the minds of those who interact with it in the same way as viewers of art. Literary history takes into account this interaction as part of the given text’s history and gauges its aesthetic value by the “rightness” of the Thiselton, The Hermeneutics of Doctrine, 100.
Jauss, Toward an Aesthetic, 39; in many ways, Jauss’ method anticipates Adam’s biblical theology as “signifying practice,” though Jauss and Gadamer combined offer a more
holistic and encompassing approach to hermeneutics. A. K. M. Adam, “Poaching on Zion:
Biblical Theology as Signifying Practice,” in Reading Scripture with the Church: Toward a Hermeneutic for Theological Interpretation (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2006), 17–34.
question that it poses with reference to the subject matter of the text, and in relation to the original work and interpretations thereof. It is significant to note that art history and pragmatic history are linked by this notion of the piece of literature as a “historical event.”200 The two diverge, however, when historicism takes the path of historical excavation prior to the event, while art history, though it must consider the results of this excavation, largely concerns itself with the the ongoing reception of the text as progessive unfolding of its truth.
In distinction from a historically observable event in the past, literature continues to elicit interest “not because it was, but because, in a sense, it still is.”201 Christian theology could affirm this statement by replacing the term “literature” with “Scripture.” For the Christian community the biblical texts are not simply historical documents, but they continue to bear fresh meaning and make demands on the readers who engage with them.202 Jauss goes further in averring that Rezeptionsästhetik must incorporate the open horizon of the future into the history of a piece of literature, for its history has not come to a conclusion so long as people continue to read it.203 In Christian theology, we must qualify this with the eschatological limitations of history and the understanding of all meaning in relation to proleptic revelation of the eschaton in Jesus Christ, as emphasised by Moltmann and Pannenberg.204 Jauss, Toward an Aesthetic, 53.
The limitations of historicism to affect social praxis are felt in the frequent attention to “historical” elements of a biblical book that are tangential or completely disconnected from the subject matter of Scripture. Seitz offers the redactional example of the tent of meeting (Exod 33-34) as a case study. Seitz, Character, 37–38.
Jauss, Toward an Aesthetic, 61.
On this point, see Thiselton, Interpreting God and the Postmodern Self, 144–45;
Pannenberg’s grounding of all history in the revelatory event of Jesus Christ encapsulates his If Jauss’ understanding of literary history has any weight, it must refuse to extract the “classic” from temporal processes,205 and instead recognise its status as the result of generations of continual interaction with the text. This does not negate any lasting meaning of a text, but rather asserts that this meaning must be temporarily stabilised in the dynamic of reception and concretised with each reading.206 The need to resituate a classic within the flow of history stems from our personal “belongingness” to history. Traditions are transmitted within history, not of their own accord, but by the active reader. The tradition of the Bible as a “classic” has developed over generations by people who continually engage with the Scriptures. The process of tradition provides a safeguard against limitless interpretations, for fresh appropriations of a text “occur within the witness of tradition. Different eras do not merely replicate understandings, but neither do they make up what they like of a text.”207 Readers, shaped by traditions, come to a text and expand literary traditions by posing both old and new questions to and discovering answers within a text.
The formulation of his literary history on the productive works of Marxism, Formalism, and Gadamer, combined with his seven theses,208 serve theologically essential view of universal history, which he takes up and modifies from Hegel.
Without speaking of meaning in relation to the whole of history, that meaning offers a distorted picture of reality. Wolfhart Pannenberg, Basic Questions in Theology, ed. George H.
Kehm, trans. Paul J. Achtemeier, vol. 2 (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1970), 62; E. Frank Tupper, The Theology of Wolfhart Pannenberg (London: SCM Press, 1973), 50 and 57. Jauss and Pannenberg actively engaged each other on this topic and hermeneutics more generally in the group Poetik und Hermeneutik. See Hans Robert Jauss, Manfred Fuhrmann, and Wolfhart Pannenberg, eds., Text und Applikation: Theologie, Jurisprudenz, und Literturwissenschaft im hermeneutischen Gespräch, Poetik und Hermeneutik 9 (München: Wilhelm Fink, 1981).
See Thiselton in Lundin, Walhout, and Thiselton, The Promise of Hermeneutics, 198.
Ricoeur, Time and Narrative, 3:172.
See Thiselton in Lundin, Walhout, and Thiselton, The Promise of Hermeneutics, 194.
For each of the seven theses, Thiselton proposes a corresponding thesis for a theological hermeneutic. Thiselton, “Reception Theory, H. R. Jauss and the Formative Power of Scripture,” 291–96.
as the collective foundation to Jauss’ Rezeptionsästhetik.209 We explore next Jauss’ approach to reading as a dialogue and its potential implications for biblical studies.
iv. Rezeptionsästhetik: Question and Answer Crucial to Jauss’ aesthetic of reception is the concept of reading and meaning formation as a dialogue with the text, which further constitutes the history of the text. By dialogue, Jauss highlights that the reader does not merely absorb a text as a source of information, but, in order to truly consider and inhabit the text, the engaging reader understands literature as a response to an original question as well as an answer to questions continually levelled against it. In his early work, Jauss traces his inheritance of the concept of dialogue to Collingwood by means of Gadamer, relying primarily upon the latter to develop dialogue as a key element in literary history and hermeneutics.210 Later, Jauss adds Mikhail Bakhtin to his understanding of dialogue.
Bakhtin describes the internalisation of meaning in the process of reading as the transformation of the other’s word “into one’s own/other (or other/one’s),” meaning that “in the process of dialogic communication, the object is transformed into the subject (the other’s I).”211 Jauss perceives in Bakhtin’s work an aesthetic pleasure that occurs in two “contrary movements” of 1.) empathy with the other and 2.) recognition of the self in the other, which Though the dimensions of poiesis, aesthesis, and catharsis in the aesthetic experience are important to Jauss’ method, they are beyond the scope of this dissertation. Hans Robert Jauss, Aesthetic Experience and Literary Hermeneutics, trans. Michael Shaw, Theory and History of Literature 3 (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1982), 22–110; for a summary of these concepts and their place in his method, see Parris, Reception Theory, 166– 69.
Jauss, Toward an Aesthetic, 29.
Mikhail Bakhtin, Speech Genres and Other Late Essays, ed. Michael Holquist and Caryl Emerson, University of Texas Press Slavic Series 8 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1986), 145.