Speech act theory and biblical interpretation: toward a hermeneutic of self-involvement

Briggs, Richard (1999) Speech act theory and biblical interpretation: toward a hermeneutic of self-involvement. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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This thesis presents an interdisciplinary study in certain aspects of biblical hermeneutics from the point of view of speech act theory. After an introduction indicating the possible scope of such a study in relation to well established hermeneutical issues within theological and biblical studies, the thesis falls into two parts.

In part one, the philosophical claims of speech act theory are examined. A particular focus is the question of criteria for demarcating speech acts and for appropriating the theory for the case of written texts. A distinction between 'strong' and 'weak' speech acts is proposed, and it is argued that the notion of construal so central to speech act theory is also best viewed across a spectrum of strengths. These criteria suggest responses to certain prominent objections to the hermeneutical relevance of speech act theory. They also point away from any form of 'speech act criticism' and towards an eclectic approach to relevant biblical texts. Consideration is therefore given to determining which texts merit such a study.

Part two of the thesis begins by reviewing major attempts to utilise speech act theory in this way, focusing in particular on the work of Donald Evans, and modifying his approach in order to articulate some central elements of a 'hermeneutic of self-involvement'. The burden of part two is then to explore this hermeneutic with reference to three particular speech acts which occur in the New Testament, those of confession, of forgiveness, and of teaching. These chapters attempt to demonstrate in practice what it means to appropriate speech act theory for the task of biblical interpretation, showing in the process that the perspective involved is a multi-disciplinary one.

Some of the implications of the development of such a hermeneutic are sketched out by way of conclusion.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Thiselton, A.C.
Keywords: Bible, Hermeneutics, Donald Evans, Exegesis, Philosophy, Religion
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BS The Bible
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Arts > School of Humanities
Item ID: 10958
Depositing User: EP, Services
Date Deposited: 26 Oct 2009 10:29
Last Modified: 16 Oct 2017 09:41
URI: https://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/10958

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