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81 chapter four a Ricoeurian Revision of Postliberal homiletics Ricoeur’s hermeneutical project is able to redress a number of problems that surface when frei’s approach is applied to preaching. Toward this end, Ricoeur’s hermeneutics must first be developed in relation to both biblical discourse generally and narrative in particular. Paul Ricoeur on Biblical Discourse Ricoeur’s account of the nature of the biblical text is subtle and rich. of course, strictly speaking, the Bible is more than one text. a key feature of Ricoeur’s approach to scripture is his insistence that the Bible’s several genres be appreciated as diverse in both what they say and how they say it. each mode of biblical discourse must be allowed to speak on its own terms. nevertheless , it is important to understand how Ricoeur characterizes biblical discourse in general. Biblical discourse as Poetic discourse The previous chapter supplied a detailed account of the semantic and referential capacities of the broad class of discourse Ricoeur describes as “poetic.” The qualifier “poetic” is not intended to designate a specific genre, nor does it 82 The Scandal of having SomeThing To Say necessarily correspond to stylistic features like rhyme or meter. for Ricoeur, to say that a discourse is poetic is to contrast it with descriptive discourse that refers to manipulable objects in the everyday world. in fact, poetic discourse is a use of language calculated to frustrate the ordinary discursive function of referring to and making claims about the objects of experience to which we oppose ourselves as subjects. This frustration or suspension of the ordinary discursive function is the precondition for opening discourse to another referential domain corresponding to a depth dimension of reality. Ricoeur’s claim is that poetic discourse is a “more originary” use of language in the sense that it names qualities of our experience of reality that precede the subject-object distinction. Before we oppose ourselves to objects as a subject, we are rooted in the world and know it as one belonging to it. Poetic discourse gives voice to our experience of realities that slip through the filter of the assumptions that govern descriptive discourse—that is, discourse founded upon a presumptuous bid to “grasp” definitively all of reality as an object under the gaze and for the use of a sovereign subject. according to Ricoeur, the Bible is poetry in this sense: “i do assume provisionally the assimilation of biblical texts to poetic texts.”1 With important provisos still to be stipulated, the Bible is a member of the class of “poetic” texts. Ricoeur is even willing to speak of “revelation” as a general capacity of poetic texts. “[P]oetic discourse conceals a dimension of revelation in a nonreligious , nontheistic, nonbiblical sense of the word, yet a sense capable of furnishing a first approximation of what revelation in the biblical sense may signify.”2 at least as a “first approximation,” the works of William Shakespeare or alice Walker can be read as revelatory in the sense that these works powerfully tap into—both reveal and ratify—a depth dimension of human existence . according to Ricoeur, there is a fundamental kinship between what christians mean by revelation with respect to the Bible, and the way all great works of literature open our eyes to an otherwise hidden drama, namely, that “in spite of the closed-off character of our ordinary experience, and across the ruins of the intrawordly objects of everyday reality and science, the modalities of our belonging to the world trace out their way.”3 1 Ricoeur, “naming god,” 221. 2 Ricoeur, “naming god,” 222. 3 Ricoeur, “naming god,” 223. Ricoeur’s sympathy with poetic discourse generally and his sense of its struggle for validity in the wake of modernity are apparent in the wistfulness of this semipoetic phrasing. it is as if the fragile “tracings” of our depth dimension haunt like disembodied spirits the “ruins” of the closed, prosaic world delineated by our preoccupation with manipulable objects. a RicoeURian ReviSion of PoSTliBeRal homileTicS 83 Ricoeur is treading dangerously close to the position that the Bible is reducible without remainder to great literature. if this is what he means, his hermeneutical project is transparently another case of what Barth disparaged as the futility of attempting to speak of god by speaking of humanity in a loud voice. here again we come to the crux of the matter, the question of whether the call we hear in scripture is merely our own voice...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781602585300
Related ISBN
9781602585287
MARC Record
OCLC
826855639
Pages
176
Launched on MUSE
2013-05-20
Language
English
Open Access
No
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