Thursday, January 17, 2008

John Nolland on the Writing of Commentaries IV

Insight #4: Good commentators are humble about the task at hand.

Good commentators recognize that the texts on which they comment will never be a perfect encoding of what the biblical writers had in mind. They will have said both more and less than they intended. More, because the writing is informed by their conscious intentions, but also by aspects of what make them up, of which they are not at all or only partially conscious. More, because they are making use of larger thought constructions and cultural artifices of which they may be only inchoately aware, or only partially aware, and which once evoked have resonances of their own that inevitably escape the control of the writer. More, because it is a reader who must finally integrate into some significant whole what is being offered by the text; and readers in their attempts at integration inevitably make conscious or unconscious appeal to things that never entered the mind of the author. But also less, because all attempts at communication are only partially successful. This might be because the producer of the text assumes, often quite unconsciously, a framing context within which what is being said makes its proper sense, but is only able imperfectly to provide that context directly within a text of any reasonable compass. (307-308; italics mine)

1 comment:

jbyron said...


A good set of posts.I have enjoyed your focus on NT scholars.