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Reading difference in Isaiah 56-66: The interplay of literary and sociological strategies

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image of Method & Theory in the Study of Religion

Current trends in biblical scholarship investigate texts using a variety of strategies, including literary and sociological methods. Usually, these different methods never interact in ways that could lead to fuller understandings of their underlying assumptions. Isaiah 56-66 provides a test-case for the comparison of method, with a focus on the ways in which various newer methodologies can interpret the differences within the text. Whereas philosophical and literary methods (such as those of Derrida, Fish, and Bakhtin) understand that texts construct themselves within infinite difference, sociological approaches may better concentrate on the power differentials inherent within textual differences. However, both canon and method conspire to (fail to) interpret, in that they limit the infinite interplay of difference in order to produce a (single) interpretation. The singularity and multiplicity of "meaning" coheres in the multiple identities formed by interpreting communities. Fragmentation of self mirrors the fragmentation of text and interpretation.


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