I would have to say there two major reasons why the analogy between
determining the meaning of an allegedly defamatory statement and
exegeting the New Testament breaks down:
1. No speaker of Koine Greek remains living to ask for his or her
"common sense" judgment of what the statement means. In an action
for libel or slander, the jury is presumably fluent in the language.
In order to get anything remotely resembling "common sense" for Koine,
one would have to read an incredible amount of material written in
that language, becoming, in effect, an expert (as the law defines:
see rule 702 of the Federal Rules of Evidence).
2. One of the elements for defamation is damage to one's reputation.
This is an objective determination, and therefore greatly depends on
the average listeners'/readers' perception of the statement. How the
first century readers/listener's would have understood the books that
became the New Testament is one of the many questions that scholars,
theologians, clergymen, and believers are interested in.
-- Stephen C. Carlson : Poetry speaks of aspirations, email@example.com : and songs chant the words. http://www.mindspring.com/~scarlson/ : -- Shujing 2.35