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Avi Metcalfe

"It is, thus, always possible that a later text can incorporate an earlier text into a larger, shared unity and thereby change the meaning and significance of the earlier text (even if for various purposes we can still *try* to study, for example, the earlier text on its own terms)."

Texts such as the Hebrew Bible are used by "communities", and as such, even if referred to by the texts and beliefs of other communities, the "unity" of the text for the primary community (let's say, for the Hebrew Bible, "Jews") is not globally negated by claims from outside communities of claiments. There are very many Jews for whome a New Testament typological allegorical reference to a Hebrew Bible element is not only irrelevent, but never even heard or experienced in a lifetime. That's not necessarily a Luddite reaction, just a fact of living religion.

Berel Dov Lerner

May we speak of more successful and less successful incoporations of earlier texts?

Christy Mag Uidhir

Eric, though this is well outside my wheelhouse, I thought it might be interesting to think about in terms of more general authorship/interpretation issues.

Suppose I dictate a letter of reference to my department administrator, saying the letter is to read as follows:

"Dear Selection Committee, Jones is exceptionally punctual and rarely has issues with personal hygiene."

I might well be the case that the dept. admin not only fails to see that this is a damning letter but perhaps thinks it a pro forma letter of praise. However, it would be a mistake to say that the letter "means more than the dept admin intended it to mean," as the dept. admin intended the letter to mean whatever it is that I intended it to mean. That is, with respect to dictation, the dept. admin has no communicative intentions other than serving as proxy to those of my own. Assuming the dictation is taken without error, the only operative communicative intention in the mix is mine and mine alone--to the extent it is otherwise is the extent to which we would expect errors in the dictation (i.e., for there to be some revision/departure from what was dictated that reflects the way in which the now operative admin's communicative intentions depart from those of my own).

Alternatively, rather than dictating the letter to the dept. admin, I might simply instruct him to write a single sentence simply asserting Jones to have some very general, minimally laudatory feature (e.g., suppose the admin writes "Jones is kind to animals"). In this case, the admin's communicative intentions may be operative, but only at the surface level, as he still may well be in the dark as to the deeper meaning (Jones is an incompetent boob) I intended the letter to communicate to the selection committee.

The question then, of course, is whether Scripture should be seen as divine dictation or divine inspiration. Taken as the former, we should aim to discover communicative intentions of the human authors only insofar as we assume them to be imperfectly transcribing the word of God. Taken as the latter, we ought aim at their discovery only as a means by which to establish surface level constraints on the revelatory deep-interpretive activity of discovering the communicative intentions of God himself.

Eric Schliesser

Avi, since Christianity has had considerable impact on Judaism (including Jewish law to some degree) over the last thousand (plus) years or so, I wouldn't call the New Testament "irrelevant" to Judaism as a living religion.

Eric Schliesser

Christy, I take it that part of Hazony's point is that if we are primarily focused on discerning the communicative intentions of God we may miss out on a lot of important philosophy in the Hebrew Bible (and, thereby miss God-given opportunities).

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