This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

How Can We Know What God Means?

3690 words - 15 pages

How Can We Know What God Means?

Given the variety of approaches one could take when interpreting a text, should special interpretive treatment be
given to texts believed to be divinely inspired? What approach is most appropriate when interpreting revealed
texts? Do we take into consideration features of the language or the cultural context in which the text was
written? Perhaps there are significant psychological characteristics of the human author that are relevant for
understanding the meaning of the text; or perhaps we should just address the text as it stands and hope for
divine inspiration where the text is most obscure. Of course introducing divine inspiration itself introduces a
number of other problems. Religious traditions include interpretive traditions and include theories on how to read
sacred texts. So should these theories guide our interpretations? Or need an interpretation be neutral with
respect to these traditions to provide for the possibility of adjudicating among conflicting traditions. And if we are
reading texts from within theological traditions, are there any definitive interpretations of texts? Wouldn't such
contextualization invite relativism? These are the issues at the center of Jorge Gracia's book How Can We Know
What God Means?

I hope you can see very quickly that Gracia has embarked upon a series of questions of tremendous intellectual
richness and importance. These are not simply questions of theology. Take as a particularly relevant example the
debate about "intentionalism"-the view that the meaning of a text is shaped if not determined by the author's
intentions when writing the text. There are a number of classic arguments for and against that view, however,
clearly, the debate shifts if the author of the text is understood from the start to be a divine being, or even an
omniscient one. While before one might make the argument that historical hindsight puts us in a better position
than the author to understand his or her text, such arguments will no longer work. There is nothing omniscient
beings don't understand about a text they author. In fact, that fact-that an interpretation could never be adequate
to the divine author's understanding-may present a problem for intentionalism in the case of revealed texts.
(Indeed Gracia argues that it is such a problem.) So questions of divine authorship shed light on and transform
standard, philosophical issues of interpretation theory. They force us to be more articulate about our interpretive
projects; and on that score Gracia's work introduces a level of conceptual clarity unprecedented in the literature
on this topic.

We have a severely tangled set of issues in front of us and I consider it my responsibility as the first respondent
to lay the groundwork of Gracia's project so that in the course of further discussion today we can be sure we are
more or less on the same page. Also, although any good book leaves you wanting more, as...

Find Another Essay On How Can We Know What God Means?

The vocabulary we have does more than communicate knowledge. It shapes what we can know

1601 words - 7 pages an example of how language does shape what we can know, because we can that into words we have a way to “know” it. The reverse also holds true, if someone spoke only languages that could not explain it, they would have know way of knowing. There is a less extreme interpretation of the theory of linguistic relativity that while language and the words you know may not completely change your view of the world but may alter it slightly. Because

This essay is about dicussing how we know whether or not "god" or any other supernatural force exists among us

717 words - 3 pages or logical evidence. They say that through all things God exists. Why? Because supposedly He created all living things on this planet. Scientists, however, have their own idea of how Earth was created.So, how do we know that He truly does exist? We cannot see what He looks like, or what He sounds like. We also do not have records of His birth or death. There are many beautiful murals and paintings of Him through out the world, but which one is He

”The vocabulary we have does more than communicate our knowledge; It shapes what we can know.” Evaluate this claim with reference to different are

1407 words - 6 pages ways; we all have our own world-view. The different world-views, which are not only based on our vocabulary, may be a more important factor in how we receive and use knowledge rather than language only. Many people share almost identical vocabularies and yet they see the world different, are interested in different things and have various views on politics, ethics, art etc. Language does shape what we can know to some extent. A doctor knowing

Kenya: Where is Kenya? What are some things you know about kenya? How can we help them

667 words - 3 pages each year to be victims of disasters. Educating people on how to prevent the effects of disease.Women and children in Marsabit district are victims of disease and malnutrition. Addressing underlying causes of disease and malnutrition through nutrition education, growth monitoring, disease prevention education, health assessment and first-aid treatment for children, and providing iron supplements and dewormers for contact farmers. Although the

How Do We Know and What We Know?

941 words - 4 pages follow their law - makers because they know that orders from these with the relevant authority are to be obeyed. Language, shapes what we see and what we know. One acquires language, with a social environment, one learns to use different sorts of language in different situations. Vocabulary and speech pattern between friends or relatives may be informal and familiar whereas communication with someone of different generation, class or age

How Do We Know?

1566 words - 6 pages The relationship between thought and consciousness has intrigued human beings from the times of the earliest civilisations and forms the foundation of self-consciousness. Socrates expressed the unsettling idea that the only thing we can certainly know is that we know nothing. This was unsettling because our relationship to the world is determined by our knowledge of it: not being able to know anything has disastrous implications for our ability

Book Review of Ancient Israel: What Do We Know and How Do We Know It by Lester L. Grabbe

1224 words - 5 pages In Lester L. Grabbe’s book Ancient Israel: What Do We Know and How Do We Know It, his aim was to not just tell a history of ancient Israel, but to survey sources and investigate data in order to understand the interpretations that the available sources give and to reconstruct an acceptable history for Israel. He referred to this as the “prolegomena” of the actual history of Israel- the question of how historians can verify that the history of

How Do We Know Anything?

630 words - 3 pages but they can only be observed in realization. We cannot tell what an animal is thinking or if they came to know these perceived feelings. These feelings are not needed for the prime biological function of being able to survive. Meaning these tertiary feelings are not hardwired to the mind nor are they genetic. They are produced by culture. Emotions like love then become a historical product, changing over time as how they are perceived. This means that between different cultures the ideas behind love are not the same and look incredibly different.

How Can We Tell What Is Good Or Bad?

578 words - 2 pages How Can We Tell What Is Good Or Bad?To tell what is good or bad, a person needs to consider what he or she considers to be morally sound and immoral. A persons morals are taught by their parents and from the society from which they are raised.Society is not worried about what is good or bad, but how to obtain money and power. Money and power can dilute the values of what people judge morally right. While the moral way of living would be to work

Hell: What We Think We Know

2740 words - 11 pages same adjective. Any attempt to reduce the punishment by restricting eternal reduces the bliss of the righteous by the same amount. God means for us to understand that sin has consequences and that consequence is Hell. No one is exempt, not even the fallen Angels. The only way to escape Hell is to follow the work of God and obey His law. Dante’s account is fiction….it is a novel….like many other accounts we can come across in modern literature

how we can help

698 words - 3 pages How we can help They fight for our country, they risk life and they risk limb. Many have risked and lost a lot more. some have lost their lives and deserve the greatest respect. But theres a group that also need a lot more help and respect thats the wounded that return home battered and beaten and sadly disabled due to horrid injuries that will forever change their lives. Some physical and some we can't see. These are what they deal with and

Similar Essays

Who Is God And What Can We Know About God

1311 words - 5 pages different things. He is seen as a kind old man, or as a kind of father or favorite uncle. If these people where God then what the future holds would be full of good things. God is also seen has a Judge or Policeman, because he sets the rules and what the future life would hold in store for us and whether we deserve, good or bad things. It will depend on how we have performed. Lastly good can also be seen as a King or Ruler, who is the "big boss" one

Is There A God? How Do We (Or Can We) Know If There Is?

3291 words - 13 pages ESSAY: Is There a God? How Do We (Or Can We) Know If There Is?Humans tend to want tangible facts as whether or not God exist. They want to look at Him, feel Him, touch Him, and hear Him. The point that people fail to realize is that in reality God is not tangible. He is not a creature or being that can be grasped with our five senses. God is our faith. Our belief in God's existence is brought about by our faith and belief in him. Is God actually

Is There A God? How Do We (Or Can We) Know If There Is?

3291 words - 13 pages ESSAY: Is There a God? How Do We (Or Can We) Know If There Is?Humans tend to want tangible facts as whether or not God exist. They want to look at Him, feel Him, touch Him, and hear Him. The point that people fail to realize is that in reality God is not tangible. He is not a creature or being that can be grasped with our five senses. God is our faith. Our belief in God's existence is brought about by our faith and belief in him. Is God actually

What Can We Know About The Prophet Muhammad

880 words - 4 pages a glimpse into what was the socio-political system of his day through this documentation. This is more than one can know about many historical figures and certainly does not make for a sparse filler of the life of the Prophet Muhammad. Works Cited "Aisha, Ayesha." BELIEVE. http://mb-soft.com/believe/txh/aisha.htm (accessed January 24, 2012). Goldschmidt, Arthur Jr, and Lawrence Davidson. A Concise History of the Middle East. Philadelphia: Westview Press, 2010.