Scripture must be interpreted, and this activity is always shaped by the theological and cultural context within which interpreters participate. It is simply not possible to step back from the influence of tradition in the act of interpretation or in the ascription of meaning. Interpretive communities that deny the reality of this situation and seek an interpretation unencumbered by the “distorting” influence of fallible “human traditions” are in fact enslaved by interpretive patterns that are allowed to function uncritically precisely because they are unacknowledged (Franke, 2001, p. 201).
A lot can be gleaned from the above insightful reading, and as I have been reflecting a lot recently on the epistemology of special revelation, I found this to nicely summarize my thoughts on the relationship between interpretive matrices and translations.
In my recent posts, I have made a deliberate distinction between the terms “interpretation” and “translation.” These words contain overlapping semantic ranges, and, depending on the use, are highly interchangeable. In my recent use, I have reserved the term translation for the act of moving linguistic communication from one language into another. I have similarly limited my use of the term interpretation to the act of constructing meaning from a text. I have emphasized recently in both my posts and responses that the act of moving linguistic communication from one language to another (translation) is inherently an act of constructing meaning from or applying meaning (interpretation) to a text. To state this in simpler terms: Translation is an act of interpretation.
Franke here acknowledges the indebtedness of the interpreter to her interpretive matrix. One’s interpretive matrix is inherently limited by her propriospect. Propriospect is the totality of one’s experience (and knowledge) of the world as used to communicate and to interpret the communication cues of others. Franke here asserts that it is impossible to divorce one’s propriospect from an interpretive community, and to refuse to acknowledge the ideological influences that inhere to one’s reading of the Bible is to allow the same to operate unrestricted, unacknowledged, and unregulated.
Unacknowledged matrices are unregulated matrices. The act of metacognition is to practice awareness of one’s mental processes and to self-regulate the same. Acceptance of the Bible as special revelation does not eliminate the need to pass the same through the interpretive matrices of one’s propriospect. Uncritical interpretation ensues when one is unable or unwilling to assert metacognitive awareness.
The use of the Bible by English readers is encumbered by two significant interpretive trappings. First, the use of English itself limits, obfuscates, and creates unwarranted trajectories in a reading. These limitations, obfuscations, and trajectories are created by the biases of the translator(s), and the reader must acknowledge the indebtedness of the translation to the same. Second, the reader is encumbered by her own propriospect and metacognition.
It disappoints me to observe how many Bible readers take their reading of the Bible as the infallible message of God. Ironically, in so doing, they are asserting that their propriospective matrices and the final interpretations themselves are infallible. Special revelation in the form of a written text is useless when the horizons of understanding are recognized and applied.