Literary Criticism and Authorial Intent

David John Marotta writes:

> Could you supply an example of a methodology which denies authorial intent
> and raises valid points?  There is a difference between denying (that is
> contradicting) authorial intent, and a methodology which is not dependant
> upon authorial intent.  I would consider the latter, but I haven't seen a
> case made for the former.

The entire school of deconstructive criticism denies the relevance of
authorial intention.  Post-modern critical schools are divided, but
many continue to regard authorial intent with suspicion.  Even among
"classical" critics (if we may use that word) there was quite a common
position that held that the text in itself is the thing, and that the
intention of the author does *not* determine the meaning of the text.
Indeed, if anybody wants to take a doctrine of inspiration seriously
then authorial intention must be viewed suspiciously--remember, for
example, what Caiaphas said unknowing in John 11:49-50.

One well-written overview of such methods in relation to Gospel
criticism is _Literary Criticism and the Gospels: the Theoretical
Challenge_ by Stephen D. Moore (New Haven: Yale University Press,
1989).  This book includes an extensive survey and evaluation of the
pertinent literature.  If you have not seen a case made for the former
then you haven't read a goodly amount of the work that has been done
in the past 15 years.

Paul J. Bodin                         Internet: pjb3@cunixb.cc.columbia.edu
Union Theological Seminary               smail: 435-52nd Street
(718) 439-3549                                  Brooklyn, NY 11220