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  • Print publication year: 2001
  • Online publication date: December 2009

Afterword

Summary

Let me bring this volume to a conclusion by making a few obvious observations. First, it is clear from the interpretative practices narrated here that reading is not a simple activity. A hundred years ago, faced with similarly bewildering reading and textual practices, Richard G. Moulton urged his readers to cultivate the simple habit of reading:

We have done almost everything that is possible with these Hebrew and Greek writings. We have overlaid them, clause by clause, with exhaustive commentaries; we have translated them, revised the translations, and quarrelled over revisions; we have discussed authenticity and inspiration, and suggested textual history with the aid of coloured type; we have mechanically divided the whole into chapters and verses, and sought texts to memorise and quote; we have epitomised into handbooks and extracted school lessons; we have recast from the feminist point of view, and even from the standpoint of the next century. There is yet one thing left to do with the Bible: simply to read it.

What is evident from these interpretations is that Moulton's noble call is not easy to follow. As long as there are texts and readers, reading will be a consciously manufactured activity. Texts are malleable and readers are manipulative. Neither the text nor the reader is a blameless partner in this venture. Either the texts seek to invade and transform the reader, thus making him or her a prey, or the reader imposes his or her power on the text.