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The Model Reader, Intertextuality And Biblical Studies

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Chapter Summary

Umberto Eco's theory of the Model Reader concerns the dynamic relation between the encyclopedia as the storehouse of culturally conventionalized knowledge and a text as a given instantiation thereof. For Eco, the concepts of encyclopedia and intertextuality are similar in form but different in function and implications. The model is helpful for biblical studies for several reasons: First, Eco's concept of encyclopedia complements recent trends in Gospel scholarship, particularly social-scientific criticism and research into the use of Old Testament texts and traditions in Gospels. Second, it sets the text itself squarely in the center of study. By speaking of intention of the text, it guarantees that one will not go behind the signs of text too quickly in search of an evangelist's intention and ignore the narrative dynamics of the text. Third, being rooted in history and taking every facet of the text into account, Eco's model permits historical reconstruction.

Keywords: biblical studies; encyclopedia; Gospel scholarship; intertextuality; model reader; Old Testament; Umberto Eco



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