Ideological Texture Analysis

In Robbins’ model of Socio-Rhetorical Interpretation, ideological texture analysis moves away from focusing on the words of a passage, and begins to focus on the interpretation of the people. (Robbins, 1996, p. 95) The text steps aside and becomes a guest in the dialogue and exploration among various people. (p. 95) Through ideological texture analysis the focus becomes the biases, opinions, and preferences of the reader and writer. (Green, 2010, p. 2) As the text moves from the primary focus of the conversation to just a part of the conversation, it is easy to see how a subjective approach to interpretation may be tempting. This subjectivity, or eisegesis, can jeopardize the objective pursuit of the truth intended by the original author and sought by the interpreter. However, if application of Robbins’ method is properly applied, an objective approach can still be achieved.

The greatest risk for subjectivity comes in the first step of ideological texture analysis: Individual Locations. In this step the focus is placed on the interpreter and what presuppositions, dispositions, and values are held. This approach of becoming aware of one’s own predispositions allows for the individual to be aware of any subjective perspective to help insure it does not influence the interpretation process. Many of these predispositions are subconsciously acted out, and evaluating one’s individual location one is able to see these conscious, or subconscious, biases that can sway biblical interpretation away from subjective analysis never intended by the author.

For instance, an individual who comes from a poor background may read II Corinthians 8:9, “by his poverty you might become rich” (Crossway Bibles, 2007), and take it as a promise for financial prosperity. In context, however, this passage is not speaking of financial prosperity, nor is it a promise of any kind. If Robbins’ methods of ideological texture analysis are applied properly and diligently, it should assist the interpreter from eisegesis.

References 

Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: study Bible: English standard version (ESV text ed.). Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles.

Green, D. D. (2010). The Apostle John’s spiritual foresight: Interpretation through the exegesis of Revelation. Bible Theology, (4).

Robbins, V. K. (1996). Exploring the texture of texts: a guide to socio-rhetorical interpretation. Valley Forge, Pa: Trinity Press International.

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