By Richard E. Palmer
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A certain preunderstanding of the subject is necessary or no communication will happen, yet that understanding must be altered in the act of understanding. The function of explanatory interpretation in literary interpretation may be seen, in this context, as an effort to lay the foundations in ''preunderstanding" for an understanding of the text. As the first two directions of interpretation (saying and explanation) are considered, the complexity of the interpretive l8 I DEFINITION SCOPE, 9 SIGNIFICANCE ; /n;ccss and the way in which it is grounded in understanding begins to emerge.
Mediated not only through language but through history (a time gap of two thousand years), the N e w Testament must come to speak in the words that are of our world, our medium of seeing what is. How shall we hope to understand happenings within a radically different context from that of the modern secular city, mass communication, world conflict, gas, napalm, atomic weapons, and germ warfare? Should we try to preserve the literal action of the New Testament, or present what would be its equivalent in modern times?
The implicit interpretive system in every commentary on a text (legal, literary, religious) in Western thought — indeed, why not include Oriental systems, toq? —would have to be included. In his two-volume masterwork, 15 Emilio Betti has made an important contribution toward presenting a crosssection of various interpretive disciplines as they understand interpretation today, yet this voluminous effort is only a fraction of what such a "history of hermeneutics" would involve. It can be asked, furthermore, whether either a full history of hermeneutics or an inclusive synthesis of the many different disciplinary theories of interpretation (assuming that either 12.