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1:34 AM
My proposal:
> Questions should ask how a specific passage should be understood in its own right, rather than to determine the validity of a doctrinal belief. For more information, see this meta post.
I don't think the issue is where the question starts but where it ends - is the reason you're asking to understand a passage, or to determine doctrine?
@Davïd looks good to me. It's probably good for someone who hasn't sat through years of the epistemological debates here to word this haha
@curiousdannii that's also a good point, I'd love to see an answer from you on there too!
@curiousdannii 'starts' is also tricky because it involves motive, i.e. trying to understand text or trying to understand how text applies to ______________
2:37 AM
@Dan @Davïd My difficulty here is that I think the average non-academic, non-SE, just-a-Christian who meanders in here (i.e. the majority of the people against whom such a close reason is likely to be directed) is going to write this and be totally confused when we tell them that it “fails to focus on the text.”
Often within the church, that’s what studying the bible is about. Crummy wording aside, this is exactly what “focusing on the text” is for Christians not accustomed to the spirit of BH.SE. Or academia. Or epistemology.
@Susan The distinction I've heard employed in academia is devotional reading of the text vs. critical reading but I know that won't fly here
we have a heavily nuanced system which is inconsistent and dissonant
but it would be simple to say, "This is seeking a devotional reading of the text"
but that would also outlaw some currently accepted hermeneutical approaches
and is mostly covered by prescriptive vs descriptive
I personally like David's three pronged test:
A: Can we define as a forum what it means to "apply the text"? Where do we draw the line?

DavïdI've been giving this a little thought, and it is a difficult question. But some word-pairs started forming, and they seemed to provide a helpful diagnostic. I'm not sure how helpful this will be but ... FWIW, then (n.b. ALL of these assume textually-based questions -- that's a given): +-------...

but this close reason is essentially the meant/means idea
i.e. where's the focus?
@Dan I just think this close reason needs to be something that the people upon whom it is slapped understand. I think the one you posted earlier using the ‘start from’ language, however potentially mis-construable it might be, is at least something those folks could likely grasp. And maybe thereby understand something about how this site works. The ‘exegetical’ oxymoron David pointed out needs to be dealt with, but that’s do-able.
@Susan Exactly. That's why I think it's an unhelpful way to talk about these off-topic questions
@Dan I like your word 'motive' - I may edit that into my proposal
2:44 AM
@Susan Why not the three-pronged test I just posted a link to?
@Dan That’s great. How to put it in a close reason?
@Dan When I hear 'devotional' I think non-academic and maybe taking things out of context. It's not a term we should use, because systematics can be both academic and very respective to the original contexts
@Susan This question doesn't start and naturally arise from this text. See our threefold test....
Are there currently two topics collecting potential close reasons for the same basic issue?
@Dan That was intended to be about answers assuming a textually based question. I haven’t thought about how it might need adjustment for questions.
2:47 AM
@curiousdannii even when the dichotomy is used in biblical studies this is acknowledged. It is moreso focusing on the eisegetical 'out of context' methods that came to mind for you
@Susan yes, a new 'application' ;)
but the test can also apply to questions
(I'm just brainstorming, I'm not totally decided on anything yet)
@Susan but that's a good point about it needing adjustment, it would
3:05 AM
> Questions should be asked in order to better understand the meaning of specific passages, not how they should be applied today or to determine the validity of doctrinal beliefs.
@curiousdannii Hmm, I like the spirit of it but I can already tell you that we've been down the road of 'applied' / 'application' and that wording is generally shot down
@curiousdannii I have no objection to the “application” language, and I think it’s probably clearer than some of the other things we’re considering for people not familiar with all of our pedantic discussions, but I don’t think everybody agrees. Yeah, what Dan said.
I once proposed something along the lines of "questions seeking to apply a biblical text to an idea or concept that is anachronistic to the text are off topic"
that was also shot down
although in hindsight much of the objections were very pedantic
@Dan “anachronistic” is unnecessarily derogatory for that context IMO. They’re not wrong questions to be asking.
Just not here.
but the fear was that this would effectively outlaw Jesus from the Hebrew Bible, any concept or idea in the English language is anachronistic to the text....
@Susan can you think of a better word?
3:18 AM
@Dan Yeah, the second half of that has occurred to me before and amuses me.
@Dan “seeking to apply” on its own works for me
@Susan that second half has always been the (often unstated) epistemological argument against making 'application' off topic in a general way
since technically any question asked by someone in our time period in a non-biblical language is asking for an application of the text of sorts, translation itself is a sort of application
but this becomes quite pedantic
@Dan seriously
A: Can we define as a forum what it means to "apply the text"? Where do we draw the line?

Jack Douglas Can we define as a forum what it means to “apply the text”? This is an interesting question and I'm going to suggest the answer is "No". I'll explain my reasoning but first I'll list in general terms what I think we do have clearly defined and explain why I think what we have is superior t...

@Dan I would see 'application' as referring to questions along the lines of "what do I have to change in my life?"
But this was widely accepted early on:
Q: A new guideline for doctrine in questions. What do you think?

RichardI don't mean to hash and rehash this subject over and over, but I think that my understanding has developed to the point where I believe I can offer something somewhat concrete. Over the course of this site, we've struggled a bit with how much doctrine we should allow and what types of doctrinal...

@curiousdannii yes, prescriptive/normative rather than descriptive
3:23 AM
Would 'ethics' highlight the difference between "how is Isaiah 7:14 applied in the gospels?" and "what does X mean for my life?"
Q: Having extended hermeneutics to exegesis, where do we draw the line?

CalebBackground question: Hermeneutics vs Exegesis Are we a site for practicing exegesis where the experts happen be the ones with good knowledge of hermeneutics or is this a place where one could ask questions about the field and perhaps become an expert in hermeneutics? If the answer to that i...

ie. questions asking how to interpret a passage ethically are offtopic
trust me, it's frustrating
if anything, it needs new perspective from folks other than me, Jack, Jon, etc.
@Dan I'm trying! ;)
> Questions should be asked in order to better understand the meaning of specific passages, not to determine what is moral or ethical today or to determine the validity of doctrinal beliefs.
application -> moral or ethical today
@curiousdannii I appreciate it and am enjoying the discussion
3:30 AM
I'm not sure about this application/moral/ethics part in general. Some negative examples (like these doctrine examples) would help.
@Dan Did you see the huge debate at English.SE over changing its close reasons?
3:45 AM
@curiousdannii no
English.SE has the difficult problem of not wanting 95% of the questions that get asked
@curiousdannii very interesting
2 hours later…
6:18 AM
@Davïd in practice I don't think it matters, and here's why:
(1) the lions share of our questions are 'exegetical' rather than hermeneutical-approaches, and I think those casting VtC votes will largely understand the difference between the two, so this close reason will only appear on questions that are about interpretation rather than 'meta-interpretation'
in other words the OP isn't going to find this confusing
(2) the word 'exegetical' in common understanding can include the broad sense of understanding the Bible or books of the Bible as a whole, rather than just the interpretation of a verse or two - in that sense the questions we are closing are 'exegetical'. There is another narrower sense in which the word is used as 'the bit before application' but I think it is OK to use it in the broader sense: the bottom line, no-one will actually find it unclear in practice
8 hours later…
2:09 PM
I've gone through much of the Genesis differences by hand. I have posted the results so far at: hastebin.com/urevorikas.hs . I will shortly be available for a few weeks, but hope to come back and automate the procedure for identifying most of these types, and continue through the tanach. Eventually I will probably post a question about text variants and provide my example as one answer, but in the meantime feel free to use my ideas.
2:19 PM
I can find detailed lists of NT variants, but it is much harder for the OT. If I can do something about that, or encourage others to, my time on this project will have been well spent.
8 hours later…
10:07 PM
I just ran across Bruce Terry's "A Student's Guide to New Testament Textual Variants" at ovc.edu/terry/tc/index.htm . If something similar could be done for Hebrew, I think it would be useful. I realize that the available texts are much different. For masoretic texts, presumably including all scrolls used today by Jewish believers, the differences would be comparatively much fewer; including DSS and possibly even some Septuagint and Samaritan readings would make it a huge undertaking.

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