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Intertextuality and Historical Criticism in New Testament Studies: Is There a Relationship? 1

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image of Biblical Interpretation

An increasing number of historically oriented biblical scholars investigating the use of scripture in the New Testament are applying the term "intertextuality" as a descriptive category to refer to the relationship between written texts, primarily as the imbedding of fragments of earlier texts within later texts. The term is often used pragmatically as a substitute category for uncovering and investigating conscious or unconscious allusions to scripture in the New Testament. What is often lost in the process is the poststructuralist framework within which intertextuality arose and acquired its distinct meaning. In this essay I argue that intertextuality, as it is commonly understood in the poststructuralist context, is inimical to current historical critical inquiry. I present three major characteristics of intertextuality which historical critics have often failed to consider whenever they appropriate the term: (1) the ideological context wherein the term was coined; (2) the inherently related concept of text; and (3) the distinction between influence and intertextuality.

Affiliations: 1: Trinity Western University, Langley, British Columbia


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