Thursday, May 31, 2007

Implications of the Model Reader

According to Umberto Eco, texts assume, indicate and develop a “Model reader” who is required to cooperate with the text, if it is to be meaningful.

Similarly, Wolfgang Iser describes an ‘implied’ reader. The reader may be modified and transformed by the dynamic interaction between text and reader. The reader is active in the encounter with the text and it elicits responses from him, but he is also constrained by the text. An interpretive community will tend to share an understanding of what readings are legitimate.

We may apply these ideas to the Bible and to the Lord’s Supper (which as a visible word may be considered as a text). The Bible and the Supper indicate for whom they are. They call for and develop the responses their Author intends, if they are received rightly.

The very structure of the Supper, giving of bread and wine, for example, casts the “reader” as the empty-handed, hungry, humble, grateful recipient. He must receive God’s gift with faith and thanksgiving, in fellowship with all those who are called to the Supper.

Eco’s and Iser’s theories are discussed in Miles, Johnny E., Wise King – Royal Fool: Semiotics, Satire and Proverbs 1-9 Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Supplement Series (London / New York, T&T Clark, 2004), p23f.

No comments: