RE: Ramm's flood (Prof. Fish)

Gene Godbold (
Wed, 10 Apr 96 20:08:50 EDT

George Fisher is rumored to have responded:

Again, I disagree -- many, many modern literary critics would argue that it
isn't authorial intent at all that counts -- it's the interaction betweeen
the _reader_ and the text, as delimited by the critical community (or, if
you like, the faith community) in which the reader is situated, which counts.

For example, you (it seems) interpret Matthew literally; I don't.
Consequently we get somewhat different messages from a reading of Matthew,
both of which are meaningful (to us). We don't really have any idea at all
what the intent of the author was, or even who really was the author.

For an exploration of these ideas, see Stanley Fish's book "Is there a text
in the class", among others.

Professor Fish is an extraordinarily clever (even brilliant) man, but,
because of his closeness (8 miles up the road) and because a dear friend
of mine just got his Ph.D in English and had to learn what the guy taught
(including attending some of his lectures) I know a few things about the
guy. This is going to sound harsh, but the learned man's arguments about
critical judgement and literature (who decides what is good and why) are
sophistical. On a good day, he has been rumored to admit that it all
reduces to power...those at the top tell you what is good and true and
beautiful and that there is no REALITY to any of those three qualities.
Thus I would be suspicious of his "reader-respons theory" which, to take
it to an extreme, seems to mean that you can read the Gospel of Matthew
(for instance) and conclude that it is a cookbook, and that this judgement
of yours has as much relevance as anybody else's.

Fish does write some interesting stuff, though...check out an exchange he
had with R.J. Neuhaus in *First Things* a few months back; it was good.

In Nomine Domine,

Gene Godbold
Dept. of Biochemistry and Biophysics
University of NC-Chapel Hill