Schools or Modes of Thought Regarding Methods Term Paper

  • Length: 6 pages
  • Subject: Mythology - Religion
  • Type: Term Paper
  • Paper: #86976621

Excerpt from Term Paper :

schools or modes of thought regarding methods for interpreting text. These are "traditional interpretation" and "modern interpretation." Please provide a brief explanation of each and which you personally ascribe to and why. Then explain how the mode of your choice would be applies to interpretation of the Ten Commandments.

Traditional interpretation is intended to decide the explicit meaning of something, or to define the truth. For example, interpreting something as true in the traditional meaning would be the same as knowing something is true. Modern interpretation, on the other hand, is subjective and many interpretations or understandings of something can coexist without paradox; a modern interpretation does not imply the whole and absolute truth.

I personally ascribe to a modern interpretation style. The reason for this is because I am not only a reader, I am also an artist. When I create, I personally put many layers of meaning into my work, and knowingly produce art that can and hopefully will be interpreted in more than one way. Even if I were not personally an artist, I would no doubt have experience with other artists -- from painters, to musicians, to writers -- that will readily admit to there being more than one valid interpretation of their work. Therefore, with this experience, I work on the assumption that all art, and for that matter all things in existence, has more than one valid interpretation.

Many religious scholars and leaders throughout history have, of course, have applied the traditional interpretation style to the Ten Commandments, defining the one true meaning behind the words. Applying modern interpretation to the Ten Commandments, however, is a valid interpretation, not only from a literary standpoint, but also from a Christian one. In Matthew 22, Christ is preaching about the Ten Commandments:

17 "Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them. 21 "You have heard that it was said to the men of old, 'You shall not kill; and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment.' 22 but I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; 27 "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.' 28 but I say to you that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 33 "Again you have heard that it was said to the men of old, 'You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.' 34 but I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 and do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 Let what you say be simply 'Yes' or 'No'; anything more than this comes from evil. 38 "You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' 39 but I say to you, Do not resist one who is evil. But if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also...

In this scene, Christ is revealing the validity -- or even the necessity -- to interpret the Ten Commandments in a modern way. Christ is saying that he will absolutely not abolish, or "misinterpret," the Old Testament. However, he then goes on to entirely reinterpret the Ten Commandments and the Old Testament differently from the way that God originally instructed people to interpret it. So, the mode of my choice -- that is, modern interpretation -- would be applied to the Ten Commandments as the New Testament encourages to be done.

2. We discovered that people can have wide and varied interpretations of the texts that they read. Most of the time we are not able to question the author directly about his or her intent to clarify or correct out individual interpretation. As we saw in the presentation of E.B. White's "The Door" it is even possible that the author had no clear message or reasoning any more substantial then meeting a deadline. If this is the case, please answer the following:

A. Why write anything (ie become a published author) if people are likely to misinterpret what you write (why bother write for people

B. Why study the concept of interpretation at all?

This question is making two very dangerous assumptions. The first assumption is that a given author does not have a meaning behind the writing of a particular work. The second assumption is that it matters. I must comment on the reckless phrasing of this question out of deeply held respect for E.B. White. "The Door" was not written without reasoning, but rather this is an incredible literary masterpiece. "The Door" was written in 1939, a time when the World of Tomorrow fair exhibits were infiltrating the public's collective subconscious with images of a clean, sterile, plastic/glass, white city that would be born out of the rise in technology. The narrator is White's archetypal youth, who has become lost and neurotic as the world around him has become modernized. Urban renewal is the lobotomization of the future that White's narrator speaks of in the story, and it is a warning about the inevitable alienation of the future world that humans are building for themselves. It is a romantic piece, idealizing the past and the natural, and rejecting the increasing dehumanization and alienation of society's progress.

That said...I believe I have fully illustrated the answers to this question. I will, however, state my beliefs in a more blatant fashion.

Authors should bother writing for people not just despite the fact that the work is likely to be misinterpreted, but because of this. Art is about the meaning for the individual, it is about the experience, it is about the existence of the piece. If I am interpreting "The Door" differently than White intended, that does not equate "mis" interpreting. Art is not absolute; there is no right or wrong answer. By referring to different interpretations as "mis" interpretations, the concept of open-ended writing is devalued. Personally, I would not want to write anything that was intended to have only one valid interpretation.

You might as well ask, "Why bother having children if you cannot guarantee that your son will become a

Interpretation is an art form in and of itself. It should be studied because the ability to find deeper meaning in art such as writing is an enriching experience for the audience of the piece. One does not study art for absolute truths, one studies art for the deeper, sublime truths that can exist fully within an individual's thought processes. Art is like religion, it offers guidance to the meaning of life, but not an absolute answer that applies to every person.

3. Choose one of the readings. Provide the title, author and a brief summary of the piece. Explain what you learned from the reading and how it challenged your thinking. (Olsen, Thopes, Plato, or metaphor)

David R. Olson writes in chapter six of "The World of Paper: The Conceptual and Cognitive Implications of Writing and Reading" about the concept of interpretation. All understanding is interpretation. In direct in-person communication, the receiver of information has not only the text itself, but all of the nonverbal communication, such as tone and body language, to aid in interpretation. Written text does not afford the luxury of these things, or the ability to ask questions of the speaker, and therefore interpretation of text may mean something different to each individual, with each interpreter believing themselves to understand the only right meaning of it. An outside group, such as a church or government, may define the "correct" interpretation of something. The traditional meaning of interpretation defines absolute truths, while the modern meaning allows for many angles to be taken on a subject. Syntactics, semantics, and pragmatics are aspects of the interpretation process, and the very nature of spoken and written language differ significantly so that interpretation of them may be completely different processes.

From this reading I learned a great deal about the theory of interpretation, and how to understand the process of interpretation from a scientific-- rather than a purely artistic -- perspective. The study of linguistics is always intriguing... As well as a bit confusing, and the multitudes of layers of comprehension in order to interpret the theories of interpretation, as interpreted by Olsen... This reading was certainly a reminder that a great deal of critical thinking must go into deciding upon an interpretation of text or spoken word.

4. Provide a definition for "critical interpretation." Explain how, if at all, it is at work in your everyday life. (No superficial…

Cite This Term Paper:

"Schools Or Modes Of Thought Regarding Methods" (2005, April 24) Retrieved January 19, 2017, from

"Schools Or Modes Of Thought Regarding Methods" 24 April 2005. Web.19 January. 2017. <>

"Schools Or Modes Of Thought Regarding Methods", 24 April 2005, Accessed.19 January. 2017,