You are on page 1of 25

American Academy of Religion

Structuralism, Hermeneutics, and Contextual Meaning


Author(s): Elizabeth Struthers Malbon
Source: Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Vol. 51, No. 2 (Jun., 1983), pp. 207-230
Published by: Oxford University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1463635
Accessed: 07-08-2015 07:14 UTC

Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at http://www.jstor.org/page/
info/about/policies/terms.jsp
JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content
in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship.
For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org.

Oxford University Press and American Academy of Religion are collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend
access to Journal of the American Academy of Religion.

http://www.jstor.org

This content downloaded from 14.139.109.99 on Fri, 07 Aug 2015 07:14:29 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

Journalof the AmericanAcademyof Religion,LI/2

Structuralism,Hermeneutics,
and Contextual Meaning
Elizabeth StruthersMalbon
erhaps one should begin by defining one's terms. But, were I to
attempt to define "structuralism" and "hermeneutics" carefully,
completely, and in a way that would satisfy all-or even moststructuralists or hermeneuticists, I fear I would never move beyond this
beginning. Thus, although I shall not begin entirely in mediis rebus, I
must assume some experience of the workings of structuralism and of
hermeneutics. I regard structuralism and hermeneutics as approaches to
meaning, as ways of investigating the significance of "things"-from
individual texts to whole cultures-and the significance of significance.
My present task is to compare and contrast these two approaches to
meaning-structuralism and hermeneutics-by
considering especially
their goals, or end points, and their presuppositions, or beginning points.
Although my references will be chiefly to approaches to meaning in
biblical studies, I wish to understand in a more general way the contexts
in which structuralism and hermeneutics seek meaning and seek to make
meaning.
Relations between structuralism and hermeneutics are often implied
in the characterization of either structuralism or hermeneutics. For
example, Robert Culley, in characterizing structuralism, presents a
model of the three focal points of scholarly approaches to biblical texts:
author, text, reader./1/ According to this model, the author is the shared
focal point of source criticism; the text is the focus of rhetorical criticism
and structural analysis; the reader is the focus of biblical hermeneutics
(167-69). Thus Culley's model indicates a fundamental difference
between structuralism and hermeneutics. A model presented by Robert
Polzin, on the other hand, suggests a fundamental similarity between
structuralism and hermeneutics: self-conscious awareness of the role of
Elizabeth StruthersMalbon (Ph.D., Florida State University)is AssistantProfessor of Religion at Virginia Polytechnic Instituteand State University.She is the
author of articles in Semeia, Catholic Biblical Quarterly, and New Testament
Studies. This paper was first presentedto the AmericanAcademy of Religion at
its annualmeeting in 1981.

This content downloaded from 14.139.109.99 on Fri, 07 Aug 2015 07:14:29 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

208

Journal of the American Academy of Religion

the subject, the analyst, in the analysis./2/ Since Polzin's "subject" is


related to Culley's "reader," Polzin's stress on this aspect of structuralism
that is shared with hermeneutics undercuts Culley's suggestion that
structuralism is distinguished by its focus on the text from hermeneutics
with its focus on the reader. Perhaps Culley's model overemphasizes the
distinction between structuralism and hermeneutics, whereas Polzin's
argument overemphasizes their commonality.
What is needed is a way both to compare and to contrast structuralism and hermeneutics as approaches to meaning. Toward that end, the
first step of my investigation involves an examination and classification
of the respective-and various-goals of structuralists and of hermeneuticists. Goals are the projected end points of investigators, the "why" of
investigations. Thus, a comparison of structuralist and hermeneutical
goals should help us establish the scope of each of these two approaches
to meaning. After a brief look at the basis of structuralism, we will turn
to a systematization of several important goals of structuralists. Then we
will repeat this procedure with regard to hermeneutics and the goals of
hermeneuticists.
Structuralism, Structuralists, and Goals
Historically, structuralism, particularly literary structuralism, is
rooted in Saussurean linguistics. Conceptually, structuralism is centered
in concern for relations, or networks of relations, rather than isolated
elements. Ferdinand de Saussure, Swiss linguist of the late nineteenth
and early twentieth century, is acclaimed the "grandfather" of structuralism (Bovon:8), its "founding father" (Lane:27); and Saussure's Course
in General Linguistics, first published in 1915 on the basis of the lecture
notes of his students, is proclaimed "the magna carta of modern structural linguistics" (Polzin:17). The "crux of de Saussure's theory ... is the
role of relations in a system . . ."; for signs, as for phonemes, "to be is to
be related" (Wells:97). A linguistic sign itself is a relation-between a
signifier, or "sound-image," and a signified, or "concept." Language is a
system of signs. Before Saussure, traditional linguistics focused on diachronic analysis, the study of changes in language over time. Saussure's
insistence on the priority of synchronic analysis, the investigation of the
structure of language, revolutionized linguistics.
Also seminal for the history and the concepts of structuralism was
Vladimir Propp, Russian folklorist, whose Morphology of the Folktale
has quite rightly been termed "the exemplar par excellence" of syntagmatic structural exegesis (Dundes:xi). In his study of Russian fairy tales,
Propp isolated thirty-one "functions" (or types of actions) and seven
"spheres of action" (or character types) that remain constant amid the
varying details of the stories. Although Propp did not discover every
This content downloaded from 14.139.109.99 on Fri, 07 Aug 2015 07:14:29 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

Malbon: Structuralism

209

function manifest in every tale, he did find the order (syntagm) of the
functions in the narratives to be invariable. Propp's "important contribution" was, in the words of Susan Wittig, "his typically Formalist proposal
that the description of a tale's invariant structural features is a more
appropriate mode of analysis than the description of the variable content
which manifests the structure" (152).
Whereas Propp serves as a representative of syntagmatic structural
analysis, the "champion of paradigmatic structural analysis is Claude
Levi-Strauss" (Dundes:xii). It is the contemporary French cultural
anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss who is generally regarded as the
"father" of structuralism (Bovon:8; Pettit:68), "the archetypal high priest
of structuralism" (Polzin:41). To Levi-Strauss goes as well the dubious
honor of being "perhaps the best-known and least understood structuralist" (Polzin:17). His work is heralded as "the most extended and systematic application of structuralist methods and the structuralist vision to
human phenomena" (Lane:12). Levi-Strauss's work may be interpreted
as both an extension of Saussure and a "correction" of Propp. Following
Saussure, Levi-Strauss insists upon "the primacy of relations between
terms" (Culler:23). These relations are underlying or implicit relations
through which things can function as signs or as language and which the
structuralist aims to make explicit (Culler:25). Yet the "language" to
which Levi-Strauss applies this central concept is not natural language
(the linguistic phenomenon of langue) but the "language" of kinship
(Le"vi-Strauss,1969) or the "language" of myth (1969-81). These cultural
languages, like langue itself, have two dimensions: the syntagmatic and
the paradigmatic. Against Propp, Levi-Strauss argues for (1) the greater
significance of the paradigmatic dimension of narratives (tales, myths)
over their syntagmatic dimension and (2) the importance of the ethnographic context of narratives to their overall significance and clarity (see
Wittig:153-58).
We turn now from this briefest of looks at structuralism's foundation
on the concern for relations, or networks of relations, to a systematization
of several important goals of structuralism's "adherents" or "practitioners."/3/ I employ the two terms "adherents"and "practitioners"advisedly,
for structuralism in its broadest sense may aim toward either ideology or
methodology. These two basic directions are not unique to structuralism,
but common to intellectual movements generally; they represent what
Michael Lane (13) refers to, although with somewhat different labels, as
the two categories of "the means that men employ to order their
universe."/4/ By ideology-or philosophy if its connotations are less
meant "any more or less consistent system of beliefs and
abrasive/5/-is
values which describes and accounts for the relations of men to one
another, and to the material, and not infrequently the immaterial, universe" (13)./6/ Structuralism as an ideology or philosophy is, in the words
This content downloaded from 14.139.109.99 on Fri, 07 Aug 2015 07:14:29 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

210

Journal of the American Academy of Religion

of Robert Scholes, "a way of looking for reality not in individual things
but in relationships among them" (4). By way of an example, LeviStrauss's desire to understand the structure of the human mind from an
examination of its cultural products, his discovery of "vast homologies"
(Bovon:11), represents an ideological (or philosophical) goal of
structuralism. By methodology is meant "any set of rules or regulations
which describes and prescribes the operations to be performed upon any
matter . . . with the purpose of ordering it and understanding its
working" (Lane:13). Most structuralists view structuralism as a methodology, although they may recognize that its basic presuppositions are
philosophical (Lane:13,17; Patte, 1976:14,19; Bovon:6-7; Ehrmann:ix;
Via:1; Gardner:10). I offer this distinction between ideology and methodology as a descriptive one,/7/ not as an evaluative one, although "ideology," or its equivalent, generally serves as the negatively valued pole
among commentators on structuralism./8/ In fact, neither ideology nor
methodology is manifest concretely in total isolation-in structuralism or
in any intellectual movement (Lane:13).
But, speaking abstractly, structuralism as a methodology may be said
to focus upon either theory or analysis./9/ Structuralism as theory may
be directed to various issues: a theory of Russian fairy tales (Propp), a
theory of kinship or of myth (Levi-Strauss), a theory of narrativity (Greimas). In the field of literature, theoretical structuralism approaches not
so much the meaning of individual works of literature as the meaning of
meaning, that is, the presuppositions that enable literature to be written
and to be read; theoretical structuralism seeks not so much to tell the
meaning as to recreate the process of meaning (cf. Spivey:185; Culler:
30-85). From this description, the reverberations between theory and
ideology should be loud and clear; in somewhat simplistic terms, ideology may be understood as theory (or theories) further abstracted and
further generalized.
In the other direction, theory is resonant with analysis, for analysis is
applied theory. In the field of literature, structuralism as analysis focuses
upon the meaning of individual works, although this meaning must be considered (theoretically) as a subset of the meaning of meaning. Structuralism as analysis is concerned not just with the what of individual meaning,
but with the how of individual meaning. Observers have noted that structuralism as theory appears dominant over structuralism as analysis (e.g.,
Lane:38; Culler:34; Jacobson:157; Detweiler:118); some commentators
have even identified structuralism as theory with structuralism per se./10/
Since theoretical hypotheses offer starting points for analysis, theoretical
dcminance may be a mark of structuralism's youth; if so, signs of maturation (or aging, depending upon the point of view) may be discerned in an
increasing number of analytical studies. However, theory and analysis, like
ideology and methodology, are separable only in the abstract./11/
This content downloaded from 14.139.109.99 on Fri, 07 Aug 2015 07:14:29 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

211

Malbon: Structuralism

Just as structuralism as methodology bifurcates into theory and analysis, so structuralism as analysis subdivides into structural exegesis and
narrative hermeneutics. In relation to philosophy (or ideology), both
theory and analysis are forms of methodology./12/ In relation to theory,
both structural exegesis and narrative hermeneutics are forms of analysis.
As theory is, in a sense, applied philosophy, so structural exegesis is theory applied to an "object" (a text) and narrative hermeneutics is structural exegesis applied to a "subject" (a reader). /13/ Edgar McKnight's
book on the interrelationships of hermeneutics and structuralism, from
which I have borrowed the term "narrative hermeneutics," well represents this goal of structuralism. Structural exegesis as a goal of structuralism has been the aim of much of my research (Malbon, 1979; 1980;
1982; 198?).
structuralist goals

philosophy
(or ideology)

methodology

theory

analysis

structural
exegesis

narrative
hermeneutics

These four-philosophy (or ideology), theory, structural exegesis,


narrative hermeneutics-may be considered terminal goals of structuralism;/14/ a structuralist may choose any one of them as her or his ultimate goal, though she or he may reach it via another goal (or goals) as
penultimate./15/ Thus, in the Mythologiques (1969-81), Levi-Strauss
moves from an analysis of individual myths (structural exegesis) to a
theory of myth to an ideological (or philosophical) understanding of
what makes humanity human. In Structural Exegesis: From Theory to
Practice, Daniel Patte and Aline Patte move from a semiotic theory to a
structural exegesis of Mark 15 and 16 toward a narrative hermeneutic.
In actuality, both Levi-Strauss and Patte and Patte move back and
forth between goals, or forms, of structuralism in the process of discovering
meaning. However, their respective directions and ultimate goals are clear:
Levi-Strauss moves toward ideology, Patte and Patte toward hermeneutics.
Yet ideology and narrative hermeneutics are not as unrelated as they might
appear from the diagram above. The desire to philosophize on the basis of

This content downloaded from 14.139.109.99 on Fri, 07 Aug 2015 07:14:29 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

212

Journal of the American Academy of Religion

ethnography is not unlike the desire to theologize on the basis of


narratology. Ideology, in its philosophical aspects, and narrative hermeneutics, in its theological aspects, share a concern for the breadth of
humanity and the depth of human beings./16/ It is true that the continuum might be represented as a line, running from ideology to narrative
hermeneutics. But it might better be represented as a circle, in which ideology and narrative hermeneutics would not be poles apart but only ninety
degrees apart. Furthermore, such a circle might better depict the movement among goals that often characterizes interpreters.
Thus, my typology of structuralist goals is not meant to pigeonhole
scholars or to portray as static the dynamism of scholarship, but to clarify the basic thrust of various approaches. We turn now from this consideration of structuralist goals to a parallel consideration of hermeneutical
goals, in our attempt to interrelate these two fundamental approaches to
meaning.
Hermeneutics, Hermeneuticists, and Goals
Richard Palmer, James Robinson, and others open their discussions of
hermeneutics with considerations of the various meanings of the Greek
verb hermeneuein and its noun form hermaneia (Palmer:12-32; Robinson:1-7; Achtemeier:13-14). The words share a linguistic root with the
name of the Greek god Hermes, the messenger of the gods and the inventor
or discoverer of language and writing. The three basic meanings of hermpneuein are: (1) to speak (or express or say), (2) to explain (or interpret or
comment upon), (3) to translate. As Palmer notes, "all three meanings may
be expressed by the English verb 'to interpret,' yet each constitutes an
independent and significant meaning of interpretation" (13-14). Since the
ancient Greeks, each of these three meanings has found its applications by
various hermeneuticists. Hermeneutics as speaking has included not only
the oral recitation of Homer's epics but also the proclamation demanded
by the new hermeneutic. Hermeneutics as commentary has a long and
varied history in biblical exegesis, from third-century Alexandrian allegorization to nineteenth-century historical-critical method. Hermeneutics as
translation may be seen not only literally in traditional philology but also
metaphorically in Bultmannian "demythologizing." Yet one may note,
with Palmer, that in all three cases "the foundational 'Hermes process' is at
work: in all three cases, something foreign, strange, separated in time,
space, or experience is made familiar, present, comprehensible; something
requiring representation, explanation, or translation is somehow 'brought
to understanding'-is 'interpreted'" (14). It is the new hermeneutic, claims
Robinson, that has regained and reexpressed the "profound implication
that these three functions belong together as interrelated aspects of a single
hermeneutic" (16).

This content downloaded from 14.139.109.99 on Fri, 07 Aug 2015 07:14:29 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

213

Malbon: Structuralism

From these three definitions-and implications-of the ancient Greek


hermaneuein, Palmer moves to six modern definitions of hermeneutics
(33-45). "From the beginning," comments Palmer, "the word has denoted
the science of interpretation, especially the principles of proper textual
exegesis, but," Palmer adds, "the field of hermeneutics has been interpreted (in roughly chronological order) as: (1) the theory of biblical exegesis; (2) general philological methodology; (3) the science of all linguistic
understanding [Schleiermacher]; (4) the methodological foundation of
Geisteswissenschaften [or "human studies"; Dilthey]; (5) phenomenology
of existence and of existential understanding [Heidegger and Gadamer];
and (6) the systems of interpretation, both recollective and iconoclastic,
used by man to reach the meaning behind myths and symbols [Ricoeur]"
(Palmer:33). Furthermore, Palmer draws the important conclusion that
"each of these definitions is more than an historical stage; each points to an
important 'moment' or approach to the problems of interpretation" (33).
Thus the six modern definitions, in conjunction with the three ancient
ones, seem to suggest various goals toward which particular hermeneuticists may aim. The basic shape of the typology of structuralist goals
appears to serve also for outlining hermeneutical goals, thus facilitating
our comparison of these two basic approaches to meaning. Hermeneutics
as speaking (or proclamation) moves toward philosophy (or theology).
Hermeneutics as commentary (or explanation) aims at methodology,
either in a general sense as theory, or in a specific, analytical (applied)
sense as biblical exegesis. Hermeneutics as translation-and this is
particularly clear with the new hermeneutic-sets its sights on existential
understanding.
hermeneutical goals

methodology

philosophy
(or theology)

analysis

theory
biblical
exegesis

existential
understanding

In relation to philosophy, both theory and analysis are forms of


methodology. In relation to theory, both biblical exegesis and existential
understanding are forms of analysis. As theory is, in a sense, applied

This content downloaded from 14.139.109.99 on Fri, 07 Aug 2015 07:14:29 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

214

Journalof the AmericanAcademy of Religion

philosophy, so biblical exegesis is theory applied to a so-called "object"


(a text) and existential understanding is biblical exegesis applied to a socalled "subject" (a reader). These four-philosophy (or theology), theory,
biblical exegesis, existential understanding-may be considered terminal
goals of hermeneutics; a hermeneuticist may choose any one of them as
her or his ultimate goal, though she or he may reach it via another goal
(or goals) as penultimate.
As a check on the valididty and usefulness of this typology, let us
consider the place within it of several important hermeneuticists. It
would seem that the contrast between the work of Heidegger and Gadamer on the one hand and of Schleiermacher, Dilthey, and Betti on the
other represents a contrast between philosophy and methodology as hermeneutical goals. Palmer notes a "clear polarization" in contemporary
hermeneutical thinking: "There is the tradition of Schleiermacher and
Dilthey, whose adherents look to hermeneutics as a general body of
methodological principles which underlie interpretation. And there are
the followers of Heidegger, who see hermeneutics as a philosophical
exploration of the character and requisite conditions for all understanding" (46, my emphasis). As a comparison of the thought of Hans-Georg
Gadamer and Emilio Betti makes plain, however, having or not having
philosophy as a goal of hermeneutics does not deliver a hermeneuticist
from philosophical presuppositions; the conflict of Betti's "realist" presuppositions and Gadamer's "phenomenological" ones is in addition to
the contrast of their methodological or philosophical goals (see Palmer:
46-65)./17/
The hermeneutical goals of archetypical new hermeneuticists Gerhard Ebeling and Ernst Fuchs might be expressed as either philosophy
or theology. "The proponents of the new hermeneutic," as Achtemeier
notes, "in some instances, are quite prepared to invade the precincts of
philosophy, so broad is their understanding of the implications of their
approach. The new hermeneutic is therefore not limited to exegesis; it is
a way of doing theology, and it will be better understood if that is kept
in mind" (86-87; cf. Robinson:6,63,67). "Both Ebeling and Fuchs,"
Palmer observes, "have made the word event the center of their theological thinking, which has been labeled 'word-event theology'" (53). "The
effect of the word event emphasis in theology," Palmer continues, "is to
bring philosophy of language to the very center of hermeneutics" (54).
Philosophy (or theology) and methodology comprise the first branches
of the tree of hermeneutical goals; the second branches are theory and
analysis as forms of methodology. The theory/analysis option of my
typology of hermeneutical goals appears to parallel what Palmer terms
"the double focus of hermeneutics." According to Palmer, the "historical
development of hermeneutics as an independent field seems to hold within
itself two separate foci: one on the theory of understanding in a general
This content downloaded from 14.139.109.99 on Fri, 07 Aug 2015 07:14:29 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

Malbon:Structuralism

215

sense, and the other on what is involved in the exegesis of linguistic texts,
the hermeneutical problem. These two foci need not be either selfcanceling or absolutely independent, yet they are best held in sufficient
separateness for one to instruct the other" (67). By way of an example, we
noted above that Schleiermacher and Dilthey are to be associated with the
hermeneutical goal of methodology rather than philosophy; methodology,
however, is not a terminal goal within the typology; and both Schleiermacher and Dilthey are to be associated with the theory option of
methodology rather than the analysis option. In Palmer's words, "hermeneutics is true to its great past in Schleiermacher and Dilthey when it takes
its bearings from a general theory of linguistic understanding" (68, my
emphasis). Theory, however, as a goal of hermeneutics, might be
concentrated on a number of areas: a theory of language (Schleiermacher
and Dilthey), a theory of approaches unique to the "human sciences"
(Dilthey), a theory of literary interpretation (Palmer:220-53).
The direct alternative to theory as a hermeneutical goal is analysis.
Analysis, however, does not represent a terminal goal in my typology of
hermeneutical goals but suggests in turn the final option of biblical exegesis or existential understanding. Again my distinction is paralleled-in
overall significance if not in specific terminology-by
a distinction
out
Palmer.
The
I
distinction
see
between
biblical
pointed
by
exegesis
and existential understanding is comparable to the distinction Palmer
observes "between the moment of understanding an object in terms of
itself and the moment of seeing the existential meaning of the object for
one's own life and future" (56). While the most traditional definition of
hermeneutics is probably "the theory of interpretation," the most traditional goal of hermeneuticists in the field of religion throughout the long
history of hermeneutics is probably biblical exegesis. By the opening of
the nineteenth century, as Achtemeier notes, the terms "hermeneutics"
and "exegesis" were often used interchangeably (Achtemeier:14). However, in the twentieth century-to a certain extent with Bultmann and
more fully with the new hermeneutic-the goal of biblical exegesis has
been overwhelmed by the insistent emphasis on existential understanding, on biblical exegesis pro nobis, pro me. As John Cobb notes: "In the
new hermeneutic what is interpreted is ultimately and decisively the
existence of the hearer of the proclamation. The text, rather than being
the object of interpretation, as with Bultmann, becomes an aid in the
interpretation of present existence" (Cobb:229-80; cf. Robinson:52 and
McKnight:77-78).
Bultmann serves as a good reminder, however, that the typology of
hermeneutical goals is not to be viewed as static. Certainly Bultmann
shares much with the philosophical hermeneutics of Heidegger (see
Palmer:48-52; Achtemeier:53-70; Thiselton: especially 227-84; McKnight:
65-71) and with the methodological or theoretical hermeneutics of Dilthey
This content downloaded from 14.139.109.99 on Fri, 07 Aug 2015 07:14:29 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

216

Journal of the American Academy of Religion

(see Thiselton:234-40; McKnight:65-71). Clearly, Bultmann the preacher


and New Testament scholar is concerned with biblical exegesis (see
Palmer:50), but, equally clearly, Bultmann the "demythologizer" and New
Testament theologian aims at existential understanding of the biblical text
(see Palmer:56). Thus, while theology (or philosophy), theory, and biblical
exegesis are for Bultmann penultimate goals of hermeneutics, the ultimate
goal is existential understanding./18/ Yet, as we observed analogously of
the typology of structuralist goals, the continuum from theology (or
philosophy) to theory to biblical exegesis to existential understanding
might well be represented as a circle, with existential understanding
moving toward theology. Certainly this movement is descriptive of
Bultmann's exegesis of Paul and John for twentieth-century persons as part
of a comprehensive theology.
The sketching out of parallel typologies of structuralist and hermeneutical goals suggests that, in terms of their end points, certain structuralists
may have more in common with certain hermeneuticists than with other
structuralists, and vice versa. For example, those structuralists most
interested in narrative hermeneutics and those hermeneuticists most concerned with existential understanding might view each other as colleagues
in a common endeavor as against their more "theoretical" associates on
either side. Those very associates, however, whether structuralist or
hermeneutical theorists, may welcome closer association as they aim at
theoretical clarification rather than "simply" applied analysis. To remind
us of what structural theorists have in common with structural exegetes,
and hermeneuticists of one emphasis with those of another, we turn from a
consideration of end points, or goals, to a brief consideration of beginning
points, or presuppositions. We will concentrate on structuralist and
hermeneutical presuppositions in two key areas: history and language.
The Historical, the Historic, and Historicity
Norman Perrin, in an aside to his discussion of the New Testament
as myth and history, suggests three centers of meaning of the term "history" (27-29): (1) history as the historical, or "factual history" of the type
"that would satisfy a court of law"; (2) history as the historic, or the significance of factual history "in the broader context of the totality of
human experience"; and (3) history as the historicity of human existence
in the world, or all those things, from historical circumstances and events
to ideas and interpretations, that can change one's life. To borrow, and
extend, Perrin's example: all the authentic speeches of all the U.S. presidents are historical; Lincoln's "Gettysburg Address" is historic; and the
"Gettysburg Address" has had an impact on the historicity of all Americans, changing the lives of both northerners and southerners, both whites
and blacks.

This content downloaded from 14.139.109.99 on Fri, 07 Aug 2015 07:14:29 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

Malbon: Structuralism

217

The distinctions among the historical, the historic, and historicity


may, I believe, help to clarify and distinguish the presuppositions of
structuralism and of hermeneutics regarding history. Traditional biblical
criticism, based on the historical-critical method, has focused on history
as the historical. This is clearly seen in form criticism's concern to establish the Sitz im Leben of the text and in redaction criticism's concern to
illuminate the situation of each community by examining the theology
of each synoptic gospel.
Structuralism has not infrequently been criticized by biblical scholars (and others) as being ahistorical if not antihistorical. But, as Dan Via
more realistically observes, any adoption and adaptation of structuralism
by biblical studies "will entail, not a rejection of the historical method,
but a relegating of it to a more marginal position than it has been enjoying" (2; cf. McKnight:239,242). Structuralism reacts against concentration on the diachronic by focusing on the synchronic. Structuralism
responds primarily not to history as the historical but to history as the
historic. For example, Lincoln's "Gettysburg Address" is recognized as
historic, structuralists would point out, not primarily because of its place
in the chronological syntagm of presidential addresses from George
Washington to Ronald Reagan but because of its place in the paradigm
of all presidential addresses, no matter when they were given. Likewise,
the significance of a text, that which interests structuralists, is to be
determined by its intertextual and intratextual relationships, not merely
from its historical context. Oversimplifying in order to clarify our
schema, we might say that fact is to significance as the historical is to the
historic and as historical criticism is to structuralism.
Hermeneutics focuses on neither the historical nor the historic but on
history as the historicity of human existence in the world. "For hermeneutic itself," states Robinson, "is rooted in man's historicness, namely,
the call placed upon him to encounter the history of the past in such a
way as not to deny his own existential future and present responsibility"
(9). In fact, Heidegger's ontology, on which much of recent hermeneutical thinking rests, suggests that the historical is founded upon historicity.
Paraphrasing Heidegger, Achtemeier states, "Time itself is grounded in
the structure of the self, so that the possibility of temporal existence, i.e.,
history, is itself grounded in the structure of the self" (39-40). Or, as
paraphrased by Thiselton (184), "history is what it is by virtue of the
historicality (Geschichtlichkeit) of Dasein, rather than because of the
mere pastness of historical events and objects. Hence the focus of history
lies not in the past but in the present."/19/ Paul Ricoeur, in speaking
for hermeneutics as over against structuralism, states explicitly, "I will
reserve the term 'historicity'-historicity of tradition and historicity of
interpretation-for any understanding which implicitly or explicitly
knows itself to be on the road of the philosophic understanding of self
This content downloaded from 14.139.109.99 on Fri, 07 Aug 2015 07:14:29 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

218

Journalof the AmericanAcademy of Religion

and of being" (55). For this reason, biblical exegesis in the Bultmannian
tradition is primarily concerned not with the historical past but with the
present and future historicity of human existence; it is not historical
exegesis but exegesis pro nobis; it is, in the words of Ebeling, a "process
from text to sermon"; it is "proclamation" (Ebeling:107; cf. Fuchs:
141)./20/
At least as applied in the field of biblical studies, both structuralism's
focus on the historic and hermeneutics' focus on historicity may be seen
as reactions against the excesses of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries' concern for the historical./21/ Structuralism has challenged traditional historical criticism to respect the integrity of the text and to
appreciate the presuppositions that enable texts to be written and to be
read (e.g., Via). Hermeneutics has challenged traditional historical criticism to bridge the distance between "the two horizons," the horizon of
the ancient text and the horizon of the contemporary reader (e.g.,
Palmer). Structuralism has sometimes accused hermeneutics of ignoring
the interrelations and the constraints of the text as a linguistic product
(e.g., Kovacs). Hermeneutics has sometimes accused structuralism of analyzing the text in isolation from the living process of communication
(e.g., Ricoeur).
Evidently, in the responses of structuralism and hermeneutics to
historical criticism and in the responses of structuralism and hermeneutics to each other, we are sometimes dealing with overreactions to overreactions. In order to defuse this situation, it is helpful to remember
Perrin's presentation of the historical, the historic, and historicity as
three dimensions of history, three interrelated-not independent-ways
of conceiving of history. Analogously, various approaches to textual
meaning are to be viewed as interrelated; the focus of traditional biblical
criticism on the historical is better supplemented than supplanted by the
concern of stucturalism for the historic and that of hermeneutics for
historicity./22/
For structuralism, the historic is determined by syntagmatic and
especially paradigmatic inter- and intrarelationships of cultural phenomena, and syntagmatic and paradigmatic are the two dimensions of language. For hermeneutics, the bridge between an historical text and the
historicity of a reader is formed by language. Yet structuralism and
hermeneutics approach language, as they approach history, with different concerns and different presuppositions.

Langue, Parole, and Sprachereignis


In somewhat oversimplified terms, we may say that structuralism
regards language as a system of signs and hermeneutics regards language
as an event of disclosure. While these assumptions are not necessarily
This content downloaded from 14.139.109.99 on Fri, 07 Aug 2015 07:14:29 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

Malbon: Structuralism

219

contradictory or exclusive, they do represent opposing points of view on


the appropriate starting point of a discussion of language.
The foundations of structuralism's presuppositions about language
were set by Saussure. As we noted above, the "crux of de Saussure's
theory . . . is the role of relations in a system . . ." (Wells:97). A linguistic
sign itself (a word) is a relation, a relation between a signifier and a signified; and language is a system of signs. In three key dichotomies, Saussure
presented his answers to three questions concerning this language system:
(1) what are the components of languages? (2) how should language be
studied? (3) what are the dimensions of language? First, language in the
broad sense (French langage) is comprised of the language-system
(langue) and language-behavior or speech (parole)./23/ Langage is a
social phenomenon; langue is its inherited or institutional element, parole
its innovational element. Langue, language, is communal and passive;
parole, speech, is individual and active. Second, according to Saussure, it is
the task of the linguist to study langue and, primarily, to study it
synchronically rather than diachronically, that is, as a system of "relations
across a moment in time, rather than through time" (Lane:16-17).
Diachronic analysis of language is the study of changes in language over
time; synchronic analysis is the investigation of the structure of language.
Third, in focusing on langue synchronically, Saussure distinguished
two dimensions of langue, two kinds of relationships that exist between the
signs of the language-system: syntagmatic and paradigmatic./24/ Relations of contiguity are syntagmatic; relations of similarity are paradigmatic. Principles of selection are paradigmatic; principles of combination are
syntagmatic. Consider, for example, the sentence: "She wrote an essay."
Here "wrote" is related syntagmatically to "She"by following it and to "an
essay" by preceding it, while, paradigmatically, "She" is related to "He"
and "essay" to "poem." While the syntagm concerns the actual sentence,
the paradigm concerns the potential sentences over against which the
meaning of the actual sentence is made clear. Both the paradigmatic
dimension, the "axis of simultaneity," and the syntagmatic dimension, the
"axis of succession," are essential if language is to "mean" (signify)
anything.
Language as a system of signs, language as the interrelation of syntagmatic and paradigmatic dimensions, is a basic presupposition of structuralism. Thus, without reference to Saussure, Propp focused on the
syntagmatic aspects of the Russian fairy tale. In a conscious application
of Saussure's linguistic model,/25/ Levi-Strauss focused on the paradigmatic aspects of the "language" of kinship and the "language" of myth.
Levi-Strauss's work has been heralded as "the model for all subsequent
attempts at the extension of linguistic theory beyond the borders of its
own discipline" (Robey:3), and with this extension has come the extension of the syntagmatic/paradigmatic distinction.
This content downloaded from 14.139.109.99 on Fri, 07 Aug 2015 07:14:29 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

220

Journal of the American Academy of Religion

Whereas structuralism focuses upon the syntagmatic and paradigmatic dimensions of language (French langue) as opposed to speech
(French parole), hermeneutics, and especially the new hermeneutic, concentrates on language as language-event (German Sprachereignis). And
whereas Saussurean linguistics is foundational for structuralism's view of
language, Heideggerian philosophy is foundational for hermeneutic's
view of language. For Heidegger, "language is the house of being";
"words and language are not wrappings in which things are packed for
the commerce of those who write and speak. It is in words and language
that things first come into being and are" (as quoted by Palmer:135).
Language, then, is insufficiently accounted for as a system of arbitrary
signs. Language originates not with human beings but with Being itself.
Language is, in Achtemeier's paraphrase of Heidegger, "the response to
Being, it is the act of being-open-to Being, of letting-be-manifest in
response to the call of Being" (Achtemeier:48; cf. Robinson:48-49). Thus,
for the new hermeneuticist Ernst Fuchs, "Language is not necessarily
talk. Language is rather primarily a showing or letting be seen, an indication in the active sense" (as quoted by Robinson:54). Language and
reality, word and event, are inseparable, and it is their unity that is indicated by the term "language-event." To approach language as languageevent is to presuppose that, quoting Achtemeier, "event and word are
born together," "that an event needs the words, the language, it calls
forth in order to be itself," and that "the language thus given birth
illumines the reality that summoned it forth" (Achtemeier:90-91; cf.
Robinson:46-48,57-58)./26/ Thus language as language-event is a living
process of communication-or better, of illumination, since the "saving
event" (Bultmann's Heilsgeschehen or Heilsereignis) is a "language
event" (Ebeling's Wortgeschehen or Fuch's Sprachereignis) (Robinson:
57; see also 61-62). By contrast, language as a system of signs is a human
product-though more an unconscious than a conscious one./27/
Structuralism's insistence on the importance of synchronic study of
language, including cultural "languages," correlates with its concern for
history as the historic. Hermeneutics' understanding of language as
language-event correlates with its concern for history as the historicity of
human existence in the world. For the new hermeneutic, language is the
bridge between the historical and historicity. Central to Fuchs's hermeneutical program is the task of "exhibiting the historicness of existence as the
linguisticality of existence" (as quoted by Robinson:55). Language,
explains Achtemeier (91), "contains the possibilities of self-understanding,
and therefore of human existence, as they have found expression in the
past." "Language," summarizes Palmer (207), "is the medium in which the
tradition conceals itself and is transmitted. Experience is not so much
something that comes prior to language, but rather experience itself occurs
in and through language. Linguisticality is something that permeates the
This content downloaded from 14.139.109.99 on Fri, 07 Aug 2015 07:14:29 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

Malbon: Structuralism

221

way of being-in-the-world of historical man."


Thus, and not so surprisingly, presuppositions concerning language
are intertwined with presuppositions concerning history for both hermeneutics and structuralism. Furthermore, these presuppositions influence
the goals generally pursued by structuralists and hermeneuticists.
Although both structuralism and hermeneutics, as we suggested above,
are open to four analogous goals, structuralism's approach to language as
a system of signs predisposes structuralism to aim toward exegesis, while
hermeneutics' approach to language as language-event predisposes hermeneutics to seek existential understanding and to develop a philosophy
and/or theology. This would seem to be the reason why Ricoeur (27-61;
see also 62-78), for example, recommends structuralism as a method (or
"science") of exegesis and hermeneutics as a philosophy. This tendency
of particular presuppositions to favor particular goals seems also to be
behind Culley's observation that structuralism focuses on the text and
hermeneutics on the reader, for structuralism's approach to history as the
historic predisposes structuralism to focus on the text in its literary or
linguistic context, whereas hermeneutics' approach to history as the historicity of human existence in the world predisposes hermeneutics to
focus on the reader in the context of his or her lived experience./28/ For
both structuralism and hermeneutics as approaches to meaning, the context is crucial.
Structuralism, Hermeneutics, and Contextual Meaning
Structuralism, as a way of concentrating on the text, may be distinguished from hermeneutics, as a way of concentrating on the reader; this is
the simple but powerful suggestion of Culley's model. Yet structuralism
shares with hermeneutics an awareness of the relation of the reader to the
text, of the interpreter to the interpreted; this is the recurrent theme of
Polzin's argument. Thus, as we noted at the beginning, Culley emphasizes
a fundamental difference between structuralism and hermeneutics,
whereas Polzin emphasizes a fundamental similarity between them. It has
been my aim to consider both differences and similarities, both distinctions
and commonalities, between these two approaches to meaning. I have
suggested that structuralism and hermeneutics share a similar range of
goals: that four terminal goals of structuralism-ideology (or philosophy),
theory, structural exegesis, and narrative hermeneutics-are analogous to
four terminal goals of hermeneutics-theology
(or philosophy), theory,
biblical exegesis, and existential understanding. I have suggested that
structuralism and hermeneutics differ, however, in their presuppositions
concerning history and language: that structuralism approaches history as
the historic and language as a system of signs, and hermeneutics
approaches history as historicity and language as language-event. Because
This content downloaded from 14.139.109.99 on Fri, 07 Aug 2015 07:14:29 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

222

Journal of the American Academy of Religion

of these presuppositions, literary or biblical structuralism focuses on


intertextual and intratextual relationships and literary or biblical
hermeneutics focuses on the text-reader relationship.
But, to borrow the terminology of Michael Polanyi, what is of focal
awareness for the one is of subsidiary awareness for the other. Structuralists know, sometimes more tacitly than explicitly, that to remove the text
from its author-text-reader context is an abstraction; they insist, however,
that this procedure is not arbitrary but essential, for it enables the reader
to listen openly and fully to the text itself. Hermeneuticists know, sometimes more tacitly than explicitly, that, if the reader is to hear and
respond to the text, the text itself-in detail and as a whole and as a
system of relationships forming of details a whole-this text must be
allowed to speak in its own voice. In their most thoughtful moments,
both structuralists and hermeneuticists realize, with Robert Funk, that
"the text cannot speak for itself if it is not painstakingly exegeted in its
own context, and it cannot be interpreted if it cannot be brought into
intimate relation with contemporary modes of thought and experience"
(Funk, 1964:181; see also Foust; Scholes:9-10).
But one cannot focus on everything at once./29/ In this the scholar,
whether a traditional historical critic, a structuralist, or a hermeneuticist,
is no better off than a child at a three-ring circus-and no worse off
either. We do not regard the circus as primarily a frustrating experience
for the child, nor need we regard the scholarly world as primarily such
for ourselves. Yet, like the child whose head spins at the circus, we
would do well to shift our focus occasionally, to allow our work to be
refreshed by tacit knowledge coming to explicitness.
Structuralism focuses on "meaning of," on meaning in the context of
intertextual and intratextual relationships. Hermeneutics focuses on
"meaning for," on meaning in the context of the text-reader relationship.
Because both structuralism and hermeneutics appreciate the importance
of context to meaning, these two approaches to meaning should manifest
a "preunderstanding" of each other, or, to change the figure, should
perceive a common structure between themselves, and thus establish a
creative relationship. Structuralism might guide hermeneutics away from
a premature application of the text to the reader. from an immature
abstraction of the text from the reader. Both structuralism and hermeneutics affirm that all textual meaning is contextual meaning. Perhaps
both structuralists and hermeneuticists need to reaffirm that all inquiry is
interrelated.

This content downloaded from 14.139.109.99 on Fri, 07 Aug 2015 07:14:29 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

Malbon: Structuralism

223

NOTES
/1/
Compare (1) the model of a literary work (in the broadest sense of the
term) as the interrelation of author, text, reader, world presented in Malbon,
1980:321-22; (2) the model of the "coordinates of art criticism" (work, audience,
universe) presented by Abrams (especially 6); and (3) the "maps" for literary
critics (central point: work; cardinal points: author, reader, information, language) presented by Hernadi.
Polzin defines structuralism as an approach (1) to objects as whole, self/2/
regulating systems of transformations, (2) by means of hypothetical-deductive
models, (3) with self-conscious awareness of the personal, operational structures
of the subject making the approach (see especially 1-2). In his succeeding evaluations of what makes a structural analysis structural, however, Polzin focuses
primarily on the third element, the relationship of the analyzing subject to the
analysis (see especially 38,33-34). Polzin's purpose here-and his model-is "a
structural analysis of structural analysis," not an evaluation of the relationship
between structuralism and hermeneutics.
An earlier version of the following typology of structuralist goals was
/3/
presented in Malbon, 1980:318-21.
Lane expresses these two categories not as ideology and methodology but
/4/
as "theories" and "methods"; but note Lane's use of the terms "philosophies and
methods" (17) and "ideology" (18).
I do not mean by this to ignore the possible distinctions between ideology
/5/
and philosophy, but rather to refer, in general and with neutrality, to what
Robert Scholes identifies and Robert Polzin affirms as "structuralism as a movement of mind" (Scholes:1; Polzin:iv,1).
Lane is here describing what he terms a "theory" as opposed to a
/6/
"method." See note 4 above.
Cf. Scholes's discussion of "structuralism as a movement of mind" and
/7/
"structuralism as a method" (1-12). See also Culley:169.
For example, Ehrmann:viii; Lane:17-18; Patte, 1976:19; Spivey:144;
/8/
Wilder, 1974:11. Among the more positive, or at least neutral, discussions of
structuralism as an ideology are Scholes:1-7; Gardner:213-47; McKnight:
295-312; Detweiler:202-4,207.
This distinction between theory and analysis is paralleled by, for exam/9/
ple, Patte and Patte's distinction between "theory" and "practice" or "fundamental research" and "applied research" (1); Patte's distinction between the search
for "universal structures" and the search for "structures which characterize each
specific narrative" (1980a:7); Detweiler's distinction between "theory" and
"application" (3-4,103,124); Barthes's distinction between "poetics" and "criticism," as discussed by Culler (30-35).
/10/

This appears to be the case with Spivey:135; Robey:3; Culler (following

This content downloaded from 14.139.109.99 on Fri, 07 Aug 2015 07:14:29 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

224

Journal of the American Academy of Religion

Barthes):30-all of whom are commenting in the context of literary structuralism. Cf. also Calinescu:5,9,16, on "poetics" (see note 28 below).
See Polzin:34. Patte's discussion of "five types of structuralist research"
/11/
(1980a:7-9) may be understood as a development of the various relationships
between theory and analysis: analysis in disregard of theory (Patte's type 1),
theory in isolation from analysis (type 2), analysis for the sake of theory, whether inductive or deductive (types 3 and 4), and analysis in the light of theory
(type 5, "structural exegesis").
The term "methodology" is somewhat problematic. Whereas methodol/12/
ogy does seem an appropriate term in opposition to ideology, that which subdivides into theory and analysis might more appropriately be labeled
methodology/method.
Cf. Patte, 1976:3-6, on "exegesis" and "hermeneutic." See also Patte and
/13/
Patte:vii,94; and Patte, 1980a:22.
/14/
My diagram of goals, although developed independently of Pettit's tree
of options (54), may be fruitfully compared with it. However, Pettit's tree of
options serves as an evaluative tool (54-64): according to Pettit, theory failsgenerative theory more drastically so than descriptive theory, and straight analysis is uncontrolled, thus only systematic analysis is workable; there is only one
real option for structuralism.
See Glucksmann's five levels of the "problematic," or conceptual frame/15/
work, of structuralism-or of any theoretical system, listed according to
"descending levels of abstraction rather than a hierarchy of determinacy" (10):
(1) epistemology [cf. structuralism as an approach to meaning], (2) philosophy
[cf. philosophy (or ideology)], (3) theory [cf. theory], (4) methodology [cf. analysis], (5) description [cf. structural exegesis]. Glucksmann stresses that "each coherent thought system includes the five mentioned in some form" (10).
See Patte and Patte's diagram of "the path taken by Levi-Strauss" and
/16/
the path they follow to the "semantic universe" (15-16).
As an analogous example we note that, although Daniel Patte shares with
/17/
Edgar McKnight the structuralist goal of "narrative hermeneutics," Patte
(1980b) underscores a fundamental difference in their philosophical and theological presuppositions: McKnight, according to Patte, affirms the reality of the
world as an extralinguistic reality and revelation as immanent, while Patte, following Greimas, affirms the reality of the world as a linguistic reality and revelation as transcendent.
Robinson (52), Cobb (229-30), and McKnight (77-78) would, presum/18/
ably, consider existential understanding the ultimate goal of the new hermeneutic but biblical exegesis the ultimate goal of Bultmann. To be sure, exegesis of
the text is more central (and essential) for Bultmann than for Ebeling and
Fuchs, but Bultmann's approach to the text is motivated by his concern for the
reader's (or hearer's) existential appropriation of it, and for Bultmann biblical

This content downloaded from 14.139.109.99 on Fri, 07 Aug 2015 07:14:29 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

Malbon: Structuralism

225

exegesis that does not result in existential understanding is incomplete.


For further examples of penultimate and ultimate hermeneutical goals,
consider Heidegger (penultimate: textual exegesis, ultimate: philosophy; see
Palmer:141,161) and Ebeling and Fuchs (antepenultimate: biblical exegesis, penultimate: existential understanding, ultimate: theology; see Achtemeier:85,87).
Cf. Achtemeier (125) on Fuchs and Palmer on Dilthey (Palmer:111,
/19/
116-18) and on Gadamer (Palmer:176-93) as well as Palmer's own "Thirty
Theses on Interpretation" (242-53), especially theses 8 and 24-30. See also
Ricoeur:16-19.
Wilder's critique of the new hermeneutic's concentration on historicity
/20/
(1964:205), of its foundation "on a violent acultural and anticultural impulse"
(1964:204), is well taken. See also Cobb's discussion of the existentialist (including the new hermeneutical) view of history (the historical) as external to faith.
From the point of view of the new hermenuetic, see Fuchs:237-39. On
/21/
the reaction against historicism in twentieth-century literary criticism generally,
see Calinescu:1-3,12,15-16.
As Funk notes in a warning to the new hermeneutic, "historical criticism
/22/
as an integral element in the interpretation of the text is subject to preunderstanding. But the pre-understanding that is brought to the text is itself
(both humanly and) historically situated and must itself be submitted to historical criticism" (1964:195).
The terms language-system and language-behavior are Lyons's expres/23/
sion (13) of Saussure's langue/parole distinction.
/24/
"Paradigmatic" is actually Louis Hjelmslev's term, but it is more commonly employed (and less ambiguous) than Saussure's term "associative
(Lyons:12).
Pettit (68) considers Levi-Strauss's work "as a development of the linguis/25/
tic model rather than as an application of it." This evaluation appears to reflect
Pettit's observation-and disapproval-of Levi-Strauss's move beyond interpretation to philosophy or ideology.
For a critique of the new hermeneutic's view of language (Does lan/26/
guage express reality directly? Is existentialist language about language as
abstract and objectifying, in another direction, as that which it rejects?), see
Dillenberger (151) and Wilder (1964:211-12).
With this distinction between language "product" and language "process,"
/27/
compare Ricoeur's discussion of the word as "structure" and the word as "event"
(79-96; see also 62-78). Patte suggests that both emphases are found within structuralism (1980a:9-12), and the inclusion of both structural exegesis and narrative
hermeneutics within my typology of structuralist goals indicates my agreement at
that level. However, at the level of presuppositions about language, I regard the
language "product" orientation as more distinctive of structuralism and the
language "process"orientation as more distinctive of hermeneutics.

This content downloaded from 14.139.109.99 on Fri, 07 Aug 2015 07:14:29 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

Journal of the American Academy of Religion

226

See also Calinescu's discussion of "Hermeneutics or Poetics," in which what


/28/
I have isolated as goals and as presuppositions are not delineated. At times
Calinescu's discussion of poetics vs. hermeneutics appears to parallel my discussion
of goals: poetics is opposed to hermeneutics as theory is opposed to analysis (5,9,16)
or perhaps as structural exegesis is opposed to narrative hermeneutics (16-17). At
other times Calinescu's discussion of poetics vs. hermeneutics appears to parallel
my discussion of presuppositions: poetics is opposed to hermeneutics as structuralism's focus on language as a sytem of signs is opposed to hermeneutic's focus on
language as language-event (13-15) and as structuralism's focus on history as the
historic is opposed to hermeneutic's focus on history as historicity (13,15-17).
The collection of papers and responses that comprises The New Herme/29/
neutic (edited by Robinson and Cobb) illustrates the human drama of this statement.

REFERENCES
Abrams, M. H.

1953

The Mirrorand the Lamp:Romantic Theoryand the Critical Tradition. New York: W. W. Norton.

Achtemeier, Paul J.

1969

An Introduction to the New Hermeneutic. Philadelphia:


Westminster Press.

Bovon, Francis
1974

"French Structuralism and Biblical Exegesis." In Structural

Analysis and Biblical Exegesis: Interpretational Essays,


trans. by Alfred M. Johnson, Jr., pp. 4-20. Pittsburgh Theological Monograph Series, no. 3. Pittsburgh: Pickwick Press.
Calinescu, Matei
1979
Cobb, John B., Jr.
1964

Culler, Jonathan
1973

Culley, Robert C.
1974

"Hermeneutics or Poetics." Journal of Religion 59:1-17.


"Faith and Culture." In The New Hermeneutic, ed. by James
M. Robinson and John B. Cobb, Jr., pp. 219-31. New York:
Harper & Row.
"The Linguistic Basis of Structuralism." In Structuralism: An
Introduction, ed. by David Robey, pp. 20-36. Wolfson
College Lectures, 1972. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
"Structural Analysis: Is it Done With Mirrors?" Interpretation 28:165-81.

Detweiler, Robert

1978

Story, Sign and Self: Phenomenologyand Structuralismas


Literary-Critical Methods. Semeia Supplements. Philadelphia: Fortress Press; Missoula: Scholars Press.

This content downloaded from 14.139.109.99 on Fri, 07 Aug 2015 07:14:29 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

Malbon:Structuralism
Dillenberger, John
1964

Dundes, Alan
1968

Ebeling, Gerhard
1964

Ehrmann, Jacques
1970
Foust, Ronald
1981

Fuchs, Ernst
1964

Funk, Robert W.
1964

1966

227

"On Broadening the New Hermeneutic." In The New Hermeneutic, ed. by James M. Robinson and John B. Cobb, Jr.,
pp. 147-63. New York: Harper & Row.
"Introduction to the Second Edition" of Morphology of the
Folktale, by V. Propp, xi-xvii. Austin and London: University of Texas for The American Folklore Society, Inc., and the
Indiana Research Center for the Language Sciences.
"Word of God and Hermeneutic." In The New Hermeneutic, ed. by James M. Robinson and John B. Cobb, Jr., pp.
78-110. New York: Harper & Row.
"Introduction" to Structuralism, ed. by Jacques Ehrmann,
pp. vii-xi. Garden City: Doubleday, Anchor Books.
"The Aporia of Recent Criticism and the Contemporary
Significance of Spatial Form." In Spatial Form in Narrative,
ed. by Jeffrey R. Smitten and Ann Daghistany. Ithaca and
London: Cornell University Press.
"The New Testament and the Hermeneutical Problem." In
The New Hermeneutic, ed. by James M. Robinson and John
B. Cobb, Jr., pp. 111-63. New York: Harper & Row.
"The Hermeneutical Problem and Historical Criticism." In
The New Hermeneutic, ed. by James M. Robinson and
John B. Cobb, Jr., pp. 164-97. New York: Harper & Row.

Language, Hermeneutic, and Word of God: The Problem


of Language in the New Testament and Contemporary
Theology. New York: Harper & Row.

Gardner, Howard

1972

The Quest for Mind: Piaget, LDvi-Straussand the Struc-

turalist Movement. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.


Glucksmann, Miriam

1974

StructuralistAnalysis in ContemporarySocial Thought:A


Comparison of the Theories of Claude Levi-Straussand
Louis Althusser. International Library of Science. London
and Boston: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

Hernadi, Paul
1976

"Literary Theory: A Compass for Critics." Critical Inquiry


3:369-86.

This content downloaded from 14.139.109.99 on Fri, 07 Aug 2015 07:14:29 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

Journal of the American Academy of Religion

228

Jacobson, Richard
1974
Kovacs, Brian W.
1978
Lane, Michael
1970

"The Structuralists and the Bible." Interpretation


146-64.

28:

"Philosophical Foundations for Structuralism." Semeia 10:


85-105.
"Introduction" to Introduction to Structuralism, ed. by
Michael Lane, pp. 11-39. New York: Basic Books.

Levi-Strauss, Claude

1969

The Elementary Structureof Kinship. Trans.by R. Needham. Boston: Beacon Press.

1969-81

Introduction to a Science of Mythology. Trans. by John


Weightman and Doreen Weightman. Vol. 1: The Raw and

the Cooked. Vol. 2: From Honey to Ashes. Vol. 3: The


Origin of Table Manners. Vol. 4: The Naked Man. New
York: Harper & Row.
Lyons, John
1973

"Stucturalism and Linguistics." In Structuralism: An Introduction, ed. by David Robey, pp. 5-19. Wolfson College
Lectures, 1972. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

McKnight, Edgar V.

1978

Meaning in Texts: The Historical Shaping of a Narrative

Hermeneutics. Philadelphia: Fortress Press.


Malbon, Elizabeth Struthers
1979
"Mythic Structure and Meaning in Mark: Elements of a
Levi-Straussian Analysis." Semeia 16:97-132.
"'No Need to Have Any One Write'?: A Structural Exegesis
1980
of 1 Thessalonians." In Society of Biblical Literature 1980
Seminar Papers. pp. 301-35. Missoula: Scholars Press for
SBL. Revised form to appear in Semeia 27.
1982
"Galilee and Jerusalem: History and Literature in Markan
Interpretation." CBQ 44:242-55.
"Ta Oikia Autou: Mark 2:15 in Context." NTS, in press.
198?
Palmer, Richard E.

1969

Hermeneutics: Interpretation Theory in Schleiermacher,


Dilthey, Heidegger, and Gadamer. Evanston:Northwestern University Press.

Patte, Daniel
1976
1980a
1980b

What Is Structural Exegesis? Guides to Biblical Scholarship, New Testament Series. Philadelphia: Fortress Press.
"One Text: Several Structures." Semeia 18:3-22.
"Structuralism and Hermeneutics: A Review Article." Reli-

gious Studies Review 7:60-70.

This content downloaded from 14.139.109.99 on Fri, 07 Aug 2015 07:14:29 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

Malbon:Structuralism

229

Patte, Daniel and Patte, Aline

1978

Structural Exegesis: From Theory to Practice. Philadelphia: Fortress Press.

Perrin, Norman

1974

The New Testament: An Introduction. New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich.

Pettit, Philip

1975

The Concept of Structuralism:A Critical Analysis. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.

Polanyi, Michael

1958

Personal Knowledge: Towardsa Post-Critical Philosophy.


Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Polzin, Robert M.

1977

Biblical Structuralism: Method and Subjectivity in the


Study of Ancient Texts. Semeia Supplements. Fortress
Press; Missoula: Scholars Press.

Propp, Vladimir
1968

Morphology of the Folktale, 2d ed. Trans. by Lawrence


Scott. Rev. and ed. by Louis A. Wagner. Austin and London:
University of Texas for The American Folklore Society, Inc.,
and the Indiana Research Center for the Language Sciences.

Ricoeur, Paul

1974

The Conflict of Interpretations:Essays in Hermeneutics.


Ed. by Don Ihde. Evanston: Northwestern University Press.

Robey, David
1973

"Introduction" to Structuralism: An Introduction, ed. by


David Robey, pp. 1-4. Wolfson College Lectures, 1972.
Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Robinson, James M.
1964
"Hermeneutic Since Barth." In The New Hermeneutic, ed.
by James M. Robinson and John B. Cobb, Jr., pp. 1-77.
New York: Harper & Row.
Saussure, Ferdinand de
1959
Course in General Linguistics. Ed. by Charles Bally,
Albert Sechehaye, and Albert Riedlinger. Trans. by Wade
Baskin. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Scholes, Robert

1974

Structuralismin Literature:An Introduction. New Haven


and London: Yale University Press.

Spivey, Robert A.
1974

"Structuralism and Biblical Studies: The Uninvited Guest."

Interpretation28:133-45.

This content downloaded from 14.139.109.99 on Fri, 07 Aug 2015 07:14:29 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

230

Journalof the AmericanAcademy of Religion

Thiselton,AnthonyC.
1980
The Two Horizons: New Testament Hermeneutics and
Philosophical Description with Special Reference to Heidegger, Bultmann, Gadamer, and Wittgenstein. Exeter:
The PaternosterPress.
Via, Dan O., Jr.
1975
Kerygmaand Comedyin the New Testament:A Structuralist Approachto Hermeneutic.Philadelphia:FortressPress.
Wells, RulonS.
1970
"De Saussure'sSystem of Linguistics."In Introduction to
Structuralism, ed. by Michael Lane, pp. 85-123. New
York:Basic Books.
Amos
N.
Wilder,
1964
"The Word as Addressand the Word as Meaning."In The
New Hermeneutic, ed. by James M. Robinsonand John B.
Cobb,Jr., pp. 198-218. New York:Harper& Row.
1974
"Semeia:An ExperimentalJournalfor Biblical CriticismAn Introduction."Semeia 1:1-16.
Wittig, Susan
1975
"The HistoricalDevelopment of Structuralism."Soundings
58:145-66.

This content downloaded from 14.139.109.99 on Fri, 07 Aug 2015 07:14:29 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions