Cartesian Hermeneutics and the Bible as Passive Object

James Olthuis frankly acknowledges the influence of Cartesian philosophy on Modern biblical interpretation:

The Cartesian subject-object split (’I am’ and the sense perceivable world) has denatured the interpretative process. One does not begin from a desire to bring self in the proper mode of relation to a text with the purpose of dialogue, sharing and communion. Rather, we begin with the observing consciousness as the supreme arbiter of reality to which all things must give account, including Scripture; the text is simply a passive object to be mastered. Mastery, control, exploitation, is the basic form of human engagement with the world. The subject-subject dialogue between an interpreter and an author who has objectified his meaning in a text is denatured into an operation of a presupposition-less, body-less, a-historical mind who determines the meaning of a passive object through rigorous application of procedures in accordance with the rules of exegesis. The movement is one way: from subject to object. [”On Interpreting an Authoritative Scripture: A Proposal for a Certitudinal Hermeneutic,” in Conference Papers for Interpreting an Authoritative Scripture, held June 22-26, 1981, pp. 22f, cited by Bruce K. Waltke, Hermeneutics, Inerrancy, and the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1984), pp. 73-74]

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