The literary-theoretical influences on the thought of Hans Frei and Paul Ricoeur, with reference to narrative identity
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This thesis analyses those differences in interpretation which occur when separate literary-theoretical approaches are applied to biblical texts. Hans Frei suggests that the biblical texts describe the world in a way which he calls "realistic narrative". Paul Ricoeur's hermeneutic recognises the disclosive power of the text and translates the subject matter of the text into a "way-of- being-in-the-world". Thus, the primary identity disclosed by the biblical narratives differs. For Frei, it is the identity of Jesus which is disclosed; for Ricoeur, it is "our common human Christian identity". These two thinkers have usually been compared theologically. However, I contend that the theological investigations of both Frei and Ricoeur have been influenced by the literary approaches which guide their theological work. I give an exposition of this relationship in chapter one. In chapter two, I sketch out the implications of this relationship, focusing on the issue of narrative identity. In the final chapter, critiques of both systems are investigated as I attempt to deal with the force of these objections. This dissertation investigates Frei's and Ricoeur's construals of narrative identity (as constructed through the reading of Biblical texts). My working hypothesis is that the construals of identity formulated by Frei and Ricoeur rely upon formalist, narrative "interpretations”. My thesis contends that in their respective approaches to the notion of narrative identity, neither thinker has completely abandoned his early literary-theoretical roots in his theological proposals.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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