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'Rouzing the Faculties to Act': William Blake, Merkabah Mysticism, the Theology of Liberation and the Exegetical Importance of Experience

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image of Biblical Interpretation

This essay is a consideration of the importance of experience and the exegetical possibilities of the allusive nature of the biblical text. It explores the way in which the space was explored by mystics in their visionary experience. In this the interpretative subjects insert themselves into the text as active participants in that which the text describes, so that understanding of the text comes about through experiencing what happens when that imaginative process of identification with the subject matter of the text takes place. The final part of the essay reflects on the way in which, in the modern world, experience of life and the struggle for social justice have informed the way in which the text has functioned as a catalyst for interpretative insight and social change. In the theology of liberation there is a stress on the recognition of the events of one's life and the circumstances in which one lives as ingredients in the exegetical process, so that what one undergoes and learns thereby informs the understanding of the text. The essay is a plea that the widely canvassed view of exegesis which regards it as an exact interpretative science in which meaning can be pinned down by reference to ancient contexts needs to be complemented by a more experienced-based, more imaginative, form of exegesis. What unites these different appeals to experience in exegesis is the importance attached to the contribution of the interpreting subject to exegesis of the biblical text.

Affiliations: 1: Queen's College, Oxford


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