> 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 is indeed radical, even among reader-response critics -- sufficiently
radical that I doubt that many among either scientists or Christians
will find his views tolerable. On the other hand, there are important
insights to be gained from literary criticism, including reader response
criticism. It is true, for example, that the "natural reading"
of a text has a great deal to do with the expectations of the community
from which the reader comes; certainly this applies (and has, historically,
applied) to the reading of the Bible.
An excellent treatment (judging by what I've read of it) of these issues
as they relate to biblical hermeneutics is Anthony Thiselton's _New
Horizons in Hermeneutics_.
Steve Schaffner firstname.lastname@example.org