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Archive for April, 2006

Inchoate thoughts on Interpretation 2.0

I left off over two weeks ago on some reflections about Scripture, concluding that further exploration would open up the complex relationship of the Church and its sacred text. In short, I believe that it is impossible to offer conclusions about the nature of Scripture without considering the community to whom it is Scripture. Likewise, I believe it is impossible to reflect on the nature of the Church without considering the text it considers God’s word. [NB: Henceforth, in my discussion I will try to hold to the use of ‘word’ and ‘Word’ as Kevin Vanhoozer has suggested in The Drama of Doctrine – ‘word’ refers to the spoken/written words of God, primarily the biblical text; ‘Word’ refers to the incarnated Word of God, Jesus of Nazereth.]

For further discussion the conundrum is where to “jump in”. It’s a chicken-or-egg question really. Does the reflection on the nature of Scripture inform the reflection on the nature of the Church or vice-versa? How do we hold these concepts together? Or, better how does one reflect and comment on one or the other without implying some sort of separation, a separation that I am conviced is theologically impossible?

Questions like this are what keep me from writing. I simply don’t know where to begin. And, I don’t know how to go down a different path, a less systematic, more holistic path. I am constantly grasping for analogies. I am mostly wasting time browsing the internet. I wonder if the internet itself might offer an anaology.

Discussions about the concept of Web 2.0 have intrigued me for some time. [NB: I am well aware that the term ‘Web 2.0′ is much debated and possibly losing any significance, but until some other term can evoke the same notions, I will stick to it.] The general descriptions of the direction the internet is going echo some of the same concepts I believe may enhance our understanding of theological interpretation. I am plannning a more thorough and fuller article that will use Web 2.0 as an analog for theological interpretation. What I offer here is a list of the general descriptions of Web 2.0 found in an article by Tim O’Reilly. I don’t think it would require much revision to use these descriptions for theological interpretation.

1. Web 2.0 doesn’t have a hard boundary, but rather, a gravitational core.
2. Web 2.0 embraces the power of the web to harness collective intelligence.
3. Web 2.0 software infrastructure is largely open source or otherwise commodified.
4. Web 2.0 software is delivered as a service, not as a product, therefore, it must be maintained on a consistent basis, and users must be treated as co-developers.
5. Web 2.0 strives for simplicity and to be “organic”. This means applications are loosely coupled and even fragile, applications encourage cooperation and not control, and that “the most successful web services are those that have been easiest to take in new directions unimagined by their creators.”
6. Web 2.0 is no longer limited to one platform.
7. Web 2.0 creates a rich user experience where applications learn from the users using an architecture of participation.

Of course the technologies have to be in place for these sorts of things to happen. That is, we have to have the nuts, bolts, wires, buttons, browsers, codes, etc., but once all these things are put together in their proper place we do not have Web 2.0. Likewise, we have to have a proper perspective on the nuts and bolts of the biblical text with its historical, cultural, theological, sociological, narratival, ideological backgrounds. But do any of these things alone, or together, embody what we would call a “theological interpretation of Scripture”?