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Heidegger speaks particularly of “being” (Sein) as bringing about the “temporal playspace” (Zeit-Spiel-Raum) in which beings interact. Martin Heidegger, Der Satz vom Grund (Pfullingen: Neske, 1971), 130, 143, and 146. Gadamer follows Heidegger’s use of play against Schiller (i.e. the abstracted “free play” in the experience of art) and Nietzche (i.e.

meaningless play in an absurd world applied to tradition and history). Louis P. Blond, Heidegger and Nietzsche: Overcoming Metaphysics, Continuum Studies in Continental Philosophy (London: Continuum, 2010), 99–102; Parris, Reception Theory, 70–76.

questions. Truth for Heidegger, therefore, is constituted by the thrownness of Dasein.136 Gadamer takes up much of Heidegger’s thought on “play” as a metaphor for being, though with a positive vision of tradition’s role in making the “playful event of understanding possible,” and he applies “play” to the experience of art, including texts. Though he does not envision “play” as teleological,137 he asserts that the one who participates in the “play” loses his/herself in the “play,” not by examining it objectively, but by becoming involved in it. Rendering the “play” an object for examination, as in a critical methodology, is to drop out of “play.”

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transforms the one participating in it. The work of art projects a world and the subject brings “a nexus of presuppositions and aims which determine what he does.”138 Truth arises through the transformation of the person who experiences the work of art in the world that it projects. Gadamer avoids subjectivity by noting that the work of art transcends the consciousness of the See note 100 above. Heidegger, Being and Time, 261; Parris, Reception Theory, 80.

Watts also describes the relationship of “uncovering” and “concealment” of truth with Gadamer’s metaphors of “world” and “earth.” Michael Watts, The Philosophy of Heidegger, Continental European Philosophy (Durham: Acumen, 2011), 207–9. Heidegger’s approach is not without difficulties. In a manner similar to radical orthodoxy, Smith questions the givenness of Dasein that subsumes ontology to epistemology. “Without the deity there is no adherence that is not reducible to the self. No matter how high or distant this self-caused cause is postulated or even if irreducibility is fundamental to Dasein’s constitution, the only way Being is not reduced to consciousness is if there is something outside the Self that doesn’t need to account for itself. But man cannot ask of himself not to account for himself; even such an asking is still an accounting. The self is that which in order to be-the-self must account for itself, the possibility of epistemology resides in that act. But in order for man to have a meaningful ontological understanding of the world, i.e., for epistemology to recognize its rooted dependency on ontology, for language to play “catch-up” to Being, ontology must be recognized in its distinction as onto-theo-logic from its start and that requires accepting the

longer way.” Caitlin Smith Gilson, The Metaphysical Presuppositions of Being-in-the-World:

A Confrontation between St. Thomas Aquinas and Martin Heidegger (London: Continuum, 2010), 155.

Again, Pannenberg offers an important corrective at this juncture via universal history and eschatology. See Pannenberg, Basic Questions, 1:15–80 and 96–136; Thiselton, New Horizons, 330–38.

Thiselton, Two Horizons, 297.

individual because the work is what projects a world, fills the person, and transforms him/her. The person, therefore, experiences the work of art/play “as a reality that surpasses him.”139 The hermeneutical implications of this construal of understanding and truth are decidedly significant to the discussion of meaning in biblical scholarship, particularly in the way that truth becomes eventful in nature, rather than distantly, subjectively, or textually isolated.

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influences and overlaps with Jauss’ hermeneutics. Space and focus does not allow for a substantial critique of his approach as offered by Apel, Betti, and Habermas, except where Jauss modifies Gadamer below. Our research looks next at Jauss’ and Rezeptionsästhetik. This exploration of his theory includes his modifications and inculcations of Gadamer, clarification of the advantages it offers to biblical studies, as well as several necessary modifications from theological scholarship.

II. Jauss and Rezeptionsästhetik Hans Robert Jauss’ (1921-1997) early work concentrated on the literature of Marcel Proust140 and the relationship between past and present, and history and literature. These latter interests matured further in Jauss’ study of medieval animal poetry,141 in which he observed that, though temporally and culturally distant from these texts, such literature still had the capacity to evoke a pleasurable response in the reader. In 1966 Jauss became part of the faculty of the (then) newly-founded University of Konstanz, where he “…als eine ihn übertreffende Wirklichkeit.” Hans-Georg Gadamer, Wahrheit und Methode (Tübingen: J. C. B. Mohr, 1990), 115. For Gadamer, truth is not an


concept, but ontological in nature.

His dissertation on Proust was originally published in 1955. Hans Robert Jauss, Zeit und Erinnerung in Marcel Prousts “A la recherche du temps perdu”: Ein Beitrag zur Theorie des Romans (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1986).

This was the focus of his habilitation. Hans Robert Jauss, Untersuchungen zur mittelalterlichen Tierdichtung (Tübingen: Walter de Gruyter, 1959).

established a literary studies program along with several, like-minded colleagues, including Wolfgang Iser.142 These scholars developed a form of reader-response theory of literature simultaneously to the reader-response theorists in the United States, though the Konstanz School is a decidedly more cohesive movement.143 Jauss’ inaugural lecture at the University of Konstanz, Literaturgeschichte als Provokation der Literaturwissenschaft, introduced their collective proposal of what came to be known as reception history.144 He directed the challenge of his lecture particularly at traditional approached to literary history by taking advantage of significant, positive developments in this regard by two dominant schools of thought in the field of literature in Germany: Marxists and formalists. We turn now to these influences on Jauss’ “aesthetic of reception” (Rezeptionsästhetik).

i. Rezeptionsästhetik: Marxism and Formalism Jauss’ relationship to Marxist and formalist literary theory is a complex one. On the one hand, he engages them because he is congenial to their conscientious distinction from positivistic approaches to literary history.

On the other hand, Jauss recognises that these theories, though having divergent emphases for discerning meaning, are forced to present insufficient construals of meaning because of their shared, restrictive, interpretive metaframework— a framework that views literature and its meaning in “a closed circle of… production and representation.”145 Put differently, the “literary Rush, The Reception of Doctrine, 12; Thiselton, Hermeneutics, 316–17.

Thiselton helpfully draws out the level of disjunction between reader-response theorists in his article “Reader-Response is not One Thing,” in Thiselton, Thiselton on Hermeneutics, 489–514. Additionally, Jauss’ Rezeptionsästhetik is at various stages authorcentred, text-centred, and/or reader-centred, as opposed to the reader-centred, socio-pragmatic approaches of Rorty and Fish.

Translated as “Literary History as Challenge to Literary Theory” in the volume Toward and Aesthetic of Reception.

Jauss, Toward an Aesthetic, 18.

fact” is established by the text and merely displayed for the perceptive reader, who does not participate in any capacity to the production of meaning.146 Jauss highlights two primary advantageous transitions by certain Marxist literary theorists of his time, such as Karel Kosík, Werner Krauss, and Roger Garaudy. Firstly, they departed from “orthodox” Marxist aesthetics, which regarded modern developments of art and literature as decadent, and as mimetic reflections of socioeconomic factors.147 Alternatively, Jauss recognises particularly in the works of the divergent Marxists attempts to revive dialectical understanding and the formative power of literature on society.148 Secondly, their Marxist literary theory “does not have a relativistic or uncritical attitude toward tradition”149 and it maintains the importance of the historicity (i.e. geschichtlichkeit) of a text. This is an important affinity with Gadamer.

“Ihre Methoden begreifen das literarische Faktum im geschlossenen Kreis einer Produktions- und Darstellungsästhetik… [Der] Leser… spielt in beiden Literaturtheorien eine äußerst beschränkte Rolle” Hans Robert Jauss, “Literaturgeschichte als Provokation der Literaturwissenschaft,” in Rezeptionsästhetik, Uni-Taschenbücher (München: Willhelm Fink Verlag, 1979), 126. Emphasis original.

His primary “orthodox” interlocutor is Georg Lukács, who attempts to account for the ongoing influence of works of art while remanding them ultimately to the custody of their own age by appeal to the notion of the transcendental classic. His work is a somewhat veiled return to historical positivism. Yet Lukács undermines his own position in failing to consider how art of the “distant past [can] survive the annihilation of its socioeconomic base.” Jauss, Toward an Aesthetic, 13.Virtually the same conclusion follows for Lucien Goldmann, whose aesthetics cannot for art and literature’s capacity to reformulate one’s reality. Ibid., 14; Rush, The Reception of Doctrine, 34.

Jauss, Toward an Aesthetic, 14–16. This direction, as well as the influence of Heidegger is immediately evident in the opening paragraph of Kosiík’s work, in which he speaks of dialectical thinking as human praxis by which “[m]an approaches reality primarily and immediately not as an abstract cognitive subject… but rather as an objectively and practically acting being, an historical individual who conducts his practical activity related to nature and to other people and realizes his own ends and interests within a particular complex of social relationships.” Karel Kosík, Dialectics of the Concrete: A Study on Problems of Man and World (Dordrecht: D. Reidel, 1976), 1. Kosík in particular breaks from the mimetic aesthetics of Marxists like Lukács in arguing that, rather than perpetuating an aesthetics of abstraction, “the work lives to the extent that it has influence.” Ibid., 84, quoted in Jauss, Toward an Aesthetic, 15.

Parris, Reception Theory, 121.

Jauss aligns himself with this new trajectory in Marxist literary theory, but observes that 1.) it must elevate the reality formative role of literature above the economic-cultural determinative understanding of literature, and 2.) it requires the integration of the concept of an intersubjective horizon of expectation on the part of the reader.150 Following this desideratum of attention to literature’s influence in history clears the way for Jauss to argue that the influence of a work over its lifetime is part of the very “historical essence of the work,” so that one must understand the history and meaning of art not only as representation, but also as a dialogue between other works and the readers through time with the capacity to shape the reader’s perception.151 Formalism, likewise a reaction to positivism and represented by such key figures as Roman Jakobson, had its beginnings in Russia in the early twentieth century, yet faded quickly as a school due to the antagonism of Marxist literary theorists. Its influence, however, far outlasted the dispersal of the school. In an attempt to establish literary scholarship in its own right, the formalists evacuated literary scholarship of any “non-literary series,”152 including history.153 For the formalists, history is a construct outside of the literary realm, and therefore has nothing to contribute to the interpretation of literature. Formalism strives to interpret literature through the structures of a given text, such as plot, narrative voice (skaz), the use of poetic versus From the German Democratic Republic, Manfred Hermann attempts a critique of Jauss’ work, but essentially offers a revision of Rezeptionsästhetik that does not account for the productive role of the reader in reception or literary genres. He can only speak of the work’s role in predetermining its reception without an interaction of the horizon of the reader, though he does not deny the reader a horizon. Hans Robert Jauss, “The Idealist Embarrassment: Observations on Marxist Aesthetics,” trans. Peter Heath, New Literary History 7, no. 1 (1975): 202–5.

Jauss, Toward an Aesthetic, 16.


“Die formale Methode dagegen würde das literarische Werk von allen historischen

Bedingungen lösen.” Mandy Funke, Rezeptionstheorie-Rezeptionsästhetik (Bielefeld:

Aisthesis-Verlag, 2004), 50.

practical language, dynamic structure (i.e. the interaction of all literary components), defamiliarisation, and literary evolution.154 As the movement progressed, formalists such as Jakobson and Jurij Tynjanov began to more positively appropriate history into their understanding of literature, at least as the evolution of genres and works both diachronically and synchronically within that evolutionary process.

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