The term “phenomenological interpretation,” in the fields of both literary and biblical criticism, is of limited usefulness as the designation for a specific interpretive method. Indeed, although there was a school of analysis in literary critical studies named “phenomenological criticism” (more on this later), the views and methods of this school constituted only one subset of the broader impact that assumptions arising from the philosophical school of “phenomenology” have had on hermeneutical theory and literary analysis. Phenomenological claims regarding the nature of human perception, knowledge, and communication have influenced a wide array of reading strategies, from “phenomenological criticism” to various forms of literary criticism, including reception theory and even deconstruction. In the arena of biblical studies, the term is not widely employed, and ambiguity often accompanies its use.

Consequently, this entry will not attempt to define detailed parameters of what constitutes “phenomenological interpretation” within the field of biblical studies. Nor will it offer hard and fast criteria for determining which works should be categorized with this designation. Instead, the entry will review the main tenets of phenomenology, and discuss how those tenets influenced certain assumptions, objectives, and movements in literary criticism and, in turn, biblical studies.

The Basic Tenets of Phenomenology.

According to Robert Sokolowski (Introduction to Phenomenology 2000, p. 2), phenomenology is, at its most basic, “the study of human experience and of the way things present themselves to us in and through such experience.” Its founder was the German philosopher, Edmund Husserl (1859–1938), and the system he established was taken up and advanced in the works of Husserl’s student Martin Heidegger (1889–1976) and the Frenchmen Emmanuel Levinas (1906–1995), Jean-Paul Sartre (1905–1980), Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1907–1960), and Paul Ricoeur (1913–2005) among others.

Phenomenological Reduction.

As a starting point, Husserl agreed with Descartes that we cannot assume the independent existence of things. However, he argued that we can be sure of how objects appear to us in our conscious minds. This is the so-called “phenomenological reduction” that is at the root of his method and most forms of phenomenology: “everything not ‘immanent’ to consciousness must be rigorously excluded; all realities must be treated as pure ‘phenomena,’ in terms of their appearances in our mind, and this is the only absolute data from which we can begin”(Terry Eagleton, Literary Theory: An Introduction. Rev. ed.; Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008, p. 48). It is from this phenomenological reduction that phenomenology gets its name. The name also points to the focus of the Husserl’s philosophy: a systematic analysis of the phenomena—or the manifold appearances of objects—in our conscious minds.

How does such analysis differ from how we commonly perceive things? Husserl distinguished between the “natural attitude” and the phenomenological reduction he proposed by claiming that the natural attitude perceives through the senses. It is inclined to discern and test the appearance of the objects in view. In the natural attitude, our focus is on the qualities and nature of the object itself. The focus of phenomenology is an examination of how we go about “intending” objects (i.e., holding them in consciousness) when engaged in the natural attitude. It is the study of how we as rational creatures engage in propositional thinking. It is not concerned with assessing the empirical validity of that thinking, but with how we go about it and construct images of objects in our minds.

"When we move into the phenomenological attitude, we become something like detached observers of the passing scene or like spectators at a game. We become onlookers. We contemplate the involvements we have in the world with things in it, and we contemplate the world in its human involvement. We are no longer simply participants in the world; we contemplate what it is to be a participant in the world and in manifestations (Sokowlowski, p. 48)."

Eidetic Reduction.

This starting point and focus of phenomenological reduction was paired with another important claim and pursuit. Husserl argued that when we examine human consciousness and intending, we find that humans typically engage in sophisticated, imaginative reflection that analyzes the components of phenomena as they appear to us. Phenomenology pursues the possibilities and limits of such intentionality, and finds that when we freely and imaginatively vary the components of the phenomena being studied, we are able to determine which are their essential, and which their conditional, features. This process is called “eidetic reduction” or “eidetic intuition.” In other words, by engaging in such analysis, we can discern what is essential and unchanging about the appearances of phenomena we consider and come to understand the relations between those appearances. Furthermore, phenomenology does not simply maintain that such cognitive constructions of the things we intend provide us with the mental images and concepts we need to speak meaningfully about the world. When these essential predicates have been identified (of a human being, for example), then we have immediate (unmediated), certain knowledge of the actual, fundamental qualities of the objects we hold in consciousness. In short, our careful and repeated observations of the ways in which objects appear to us enable us to penetrate the very essence of the things we observe.

Phenomenology and Ontology.

Although phenomenology focuses on the appearances of objects in our conscious minds, it does not maintain that such appearances are unconnected to external reality. To the contrary, the appearances manifested in our minds are themselves real and public, meaning that they can be shared among those intending an object.

"What phenomenology does through its doctrine of the intentionality of consciousness is to overcome the Cartesian and Lockean bias against the publicness of mind, which is also a bias against the reality of the appearance of things. For phenomenology, there are no “mere” appearances, and nothing is “just” an appearance. Appearances are real; they belong to being. Things do show up. Phenomenology allows us to recognize and to restore to the world that seemed to have been lost when we were locked into our own internal world by philosophical confusions. Things that had been declared to be merely psychological are now found to be ontological, part of the being of things. Pictures, words, symbols, perceived objects, states of affairs, other minds, laws, and social conventions are all acknowledged as truly there, as sharing in being and as capable of appearing according to their own proper style (Sokolowski, p. 15)."

Yet when it comes to the relationship between the objects intended and the external objects themselves, the phenomenological reduction does not permit the philosopher to go any further down the ontological path (at least not as a phenomenologist). That is the domain of the natural attitude as it inclines toward propositional thinking. At the same time, most forms of phenomenology are not inimical to the natural attitude. To the contrary, phenomenology depends on the natural attitude for its existence and purpose.

"The most important contribution phenomenology has made to culture and the intellectual life is to have validated the truth of the prephilosophical life, experience and thinking. It insists that the exercises of reason that are carried out in the natural attitude are valid and true. Truth is achieved before philosophy comes on the scene.…Phenomenology is parasitic on the natural attitude and all the achievements thereof. Phenomenology has no access to the things and disclosures of the world except through the natural attitude and its intentionalities. Phenomenology comes only later (Sokolowski, p. 63)."

The Analysis of Appearances.

As mentioned earlier, phenomenology examines the ways in which we perceive and categorize the appearances of phenomena. Basic to this exercise is the recognition that objects we “intend” (hold in consciousness) can appear to us in a multitude of ways. Thus, as we intend objects, we can perceive and explore their various dimensions and through such reflection discern basic features of their identity. The three interrelated, formal structures that guide the phenomenological analysis of objects are: (1) the structure of parts and wholes, (2) the structure of identity in manifold, and (3) the structure of presence and absence. There are two different kinds of parts that can make up a whole. “Pieces” are parts that can exist and appear apart from a whole and present themselves as individual entities (such as apples apart from their tree). “Moments,” however, cannot be presented apart from the whole to which they belong. The redness of an apple, for example, cannot be separated from the apple (or at least its skin). Musical pitch cannot exist except as blended with sound. The structure of identity in manifolds maintains that any object can only appear to us as a series or collection of manifold appearances. And yet, it is through such manifold appearances that we can come to discern the identity of an intended reality. Even so, that identity is distinct from its appearances.

"The identity that is given through its manifold of appearances belongs to a dimension different from that of the manifold. The identity is not one member of the manifold: the cube is not one of the aspects or profiles, the proposition is not one of the uttered sentences, the play is not simply one of its performances. The identity transcends its manifolds of presentations, it goes beyond them (Sokolowski, p. 30)."

Finally, presence and absence refer to the different ways we may intend phenomena depending on our proximity to them. By engaging phenomena in their modes of presence and absence, we learn more about how we consciously intend such phenomena and how their proximity may alter our perception and reaction to them.

The Use of Phenomenological Concepts in Literary Criticism.

As mentioned at the start of this entry, key elements of phenomenology have played an important role in shaping literary critical assumptions and methods, but have done so in rather variable fashion. There is a particular approach critics commonly label as “phenomenological criticism.” However, the reach of phenomenology extends beyond this method to influence in varying degrees other literary approaches and their assumptions regarding human perception and the construction of meaning. For this reason, it may be best to use “phenomenological” as an adjective to describe certain features of a literary perspective rather than as a label indicating a specific methodology. What follows are three features of phenomenological thought that have played an important role in shaping what is often referred to as phenomenological criticism and other interpretive endeavors.

Phenomenological Reduction and the Bracketing of Context.

A key dimension of what most critics refer to as phenomenological criticism is the application of something like Husserl’s phenomenological reduction to a literary text. Among the tendencies of phenomenology that have influenced modern literary theory, this is the one most consistently manifested in works described as “phenomenological.”

"As with Husserl’s “bracketing” of the real object, the actual historical context of the literary work, its author, its conditions of production and readership are ignored; phenomenological criticism aims instead at a wholly “immanent” reading of the text, totally unaffected by anything outside of it (Eagleton, p. 51)."

What becomes the focus of such an approach, then, are the ways in which the author embodied in the text (not the actual author) engages, construes, structures, and interacts with the word the text conveys—how the author, in other words, presents his or her own “manifold of appearances” and “eidetic reduction.” The text itself “is reduced to a pure embodiment of the author’s consciousness,” the deep structures of which “can be found in the recurrent themes and patterns of imagery” presented within the literary work (Eagleton, 51). This approach was the focus of the Geneva school of criticism during the 1940s and 1950s, including the work of Georges Poulet, Jean Rousset, Jean-Pierre Richard, and Emil Staiger. This school explored, in varying ways, the text’s internal testimony to the how the author as subject perceived and construed the object of the narrative world.

Whereas the Geneva school focused its analysis on the author embodied in the text, others sought to push against the margins of this phenomenological reduction. Heidegger, followed by Hans-Georg Gadamer and others, argued that human beings are unable to engage any object apart from their own rootedness in a particular context. They rejected the confidence of the Geneva school that a reader can offer an objective, dispassionate account of the author as subject and the text as object. In fact, they set aside the author altogether. Instead, they came to focus on how readers in a given time and place can fuse their horizons with the horizon of a literary work and create a meaning that is coherent but also contingent. Indeed, there is still a reduction in force here. There is no effort to get behind the text to the actual author or the author’s historical context or setting; the focus is on the immanent reading experienced by a reader rooted in a particular context. For Gadamer, “all interpretation is situational, shaped and constrained by the historically relative criteria of a particular culture; there is no possibility of knowing the literary text ‘as it is’ ” (Eagleton, p. 62). It is our particularized encounter with the world of the text that is to be the focus of hermeneutics.

The attention Gadamer placed on the role of the reader was taken up by the advocates of reception theory, such as Wolfgang Iser. Iser developed sophisticated accounts of how readers encounter literary works and the role they play in construing meaning from them. From his works and those of others arose the exploration of such concepts as implied readers and authors, gaps of indeterminacy, the horizon of the reader, the repertoire of the reader, and the dialogic nature of interpretation. At the same time, by drawing attention to the techniques, devices, and forms that guide the reader’s construal of literary meaning, Iser’s work, and that of other “uniformist” reader-response critics, were also very much text centered. Their work reflects a degree and type of bracketing similar to that of the Geneva school’s phenomenological criticism, and is the kind of analysis most commonly associated with “phenomenological” interpretation in both the fields of literary-critical and biblical analysis.

Other reader-response critics, such as French critic, Rolland Barthes, and the American critic, Stanley Fish, shift the phenomenological bracket so that the reader stands even more solidly at its center, and the text at its periphery. They argue that readers are the primary if not sole creators of meaning. Jacques Derrida and the proponents of deconstruction take this even a step further, adopting something like Husserl’s reduction not only as a methodological starting point but as a guiding maxim. All acts of reading, and perception, are immanent and contingent to the extreme: “In order to learn from deconstruction, we need to suspend our assumption that our words refer to things, that our expressions mean things, that there are, in fact, ‘things’ at all—including ourselves” (A K. M. Adam, What is Postmodern Biblical Criticism? Guides to Biblical Scholarship Series. [Minneapolis: Fortress, 1995] p. 27).

Eidetic Reduction and the Unity of the Literary Text.

As noted earlier, phenomenology argued that intended objects, through careful analysis, will eventually reveal consistent and coherent patterns of manifestation to our conscious minds. When carried over to literary analysis, this claim of “identity in manifolds” led phenomenological critics to presume the unity of literary texts and the publically accessible cohesion of the narrative world they depict. This prejudice toward cohesion continues on through the hermeneutics of Heiddeger, Gadamer, and into the uniformist school of reception theory. Here too it is presumed that texts form organic wholes, and it is the role of readers to eventually discern the harmony coursing throughout and binding together the various features of the text. Such analysis frequently begins with an openness to the various ways in which a text might speak to a reader.

"But at the same time the “openness” of the work is something which is to be gradually eliminated, as the reader comes to construct a working hypothesis which can account for and render mutually coherent the greater number of the work’s elements. Textual indeterminacies just spur us on to the act of abolishing them, replacing them with stable meaning. They must, in Iser’s revealingly authoritarian term, be “normalized”—tamed and subdued to some firm structure of sense (Eagleton, pp. 70–71)."

The idea that the text presents coherent meaning, or any particular meaning apart from a reader, would be challenged by Barthes and Fish. The idea that the text presents coherent and stable meaning at all would in turn be challenged by Derrida and deconstructive criticism. Phenomenology, in its attempt to find meaning and the nature of things through the examination of our intentions, is essentially logocentric: it is committed to the principle that there is finally some metaphysical thread connecting words and their referents, signifiers, and signified. Likewise, most forms of reception theory and reader-response criticism advocate the view that there is something essential, and coherent, that the text as intended object conveys to a reader. Deconstructionists, however, contend that the contingent and shifting nature of both texts and readers resist eidetic reduction. There is no universal, no essential character of the things we intend. There is, in short, no identity in manifolds to discover. All is appearances—at least when viewing it through a deconstructive lens.

Focus on Human Perception and Understanding.

As previously stated, one of the primary aims of phenomenology is to analyze and explain the ways in which humans interact with and understand phenomena. This endeavor soon spread beyond the sacred hallows of philosophers and began to permeate the halls of academia. It eventually informed, if not spurred, the onset of modern literary criticism, concerned with the only slightly more narrowly focused objective of discerning how humans interact with and understand literary phenomena. According to William Ray, phenomenology introduced to literary criticism a basic paradigm that has become programmatic for that discipline: every instance of consciousness, or intention, presumes both a subject and an object, reciprocally constituting one another as act and structure (Literary Meaning: From Phenomenology to Deconstruction [Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1984], p. 3).

"This deceptively simple paradigm of consciousness and its objects has, under a variety of guises, served to justify a wide range of critical theories or programs. Since it authorizes viewing the literary work as an act of consciousness and as a structure, intentionality can be used to underwrite reader-response criticism and “author intention” readings as well as formalistic close reading and structural approaches that objectify the text. And because the same work of literature can exist in the consciousness of both author and reader—indeed of many readers—one can postulate a single intentional object for many intentions and use this postulate to ground a theory of objective literary knowledge (pp. 8–9)."

It is for this reason that parallels, if not direct connections, can be seen between the basic concerns of phenomenology and many forms of modern literary criticism. Beyond inserting this basic paradigm of consciousness into the fields of epistemology and literary theory, phenomenology also uncovered a conundrum that has continued to vex widely diverse forms of hermeneutical theory.

"From roughly the beginning of the period when phenomenologists started looking closely at literature to the current post-structuralist project, the major theoreticians have all been grappling with the same problem: namely that “meaning,” as it pertains to literature, always seems to have at least two meanings, each of which entails a different, and frequently contrary, theory of the literary work, as well as a distinct critical practice. The clearest example of this can be found in the tension between our two common-sense intuitions of meaning, as both historically bound act, governed by a particular intention at a particular moment, and permanent textual fact, embodied in a word or series of words whose meaning transcends particular volition and can be apprehended in its structure by any individual possessed of the language (pp. 1–2)."

While not all later literary theory, according to Ray, is simply a development of phenomenological thought, phenomenological criticism began the process of identifying and trying to address the dichotomy of meaning that every text presents. In Ray’s view, nearly all recent forms of literary criticism have tended to emphasize one form of meaning while suppressing the other. But even more basic than this, phenomenology also endeavored to explore the nature of human perception and understanding itself. Therefore, postmodern approaches that problematize or even deny the existence of a “permanent textual fact” also share a kindred spirit with Husserl and other phenomenologists. One common thread to all of these various tapestries of hermeneutical theory is that they are all trying to figure out how texts, and readers, mean.

Phenomenological Tendencies in Biblical Studies.

Several of the reading strategies discussed earlier have been adopted and adapted by biblical critics, leading to the integration of phenomenological tendencies in the reading of biblical texts. The practice of bracketing historical concerns from consideration and pursuing a detailed account of how the text guides readers’ understanding eventually influenced a new wave of biblical critics, many of whom were seeking alternatives to historical criticism. Early attempts to apply secular literary-critical modes of reading to biblical texts were pursued by Robert W. Funk, Dan O. Via, and John D. Crossan in their study of the parables.

Phenomenology, Reader-Response, and Narrative Criticism.

Eventually, a new brand of biblical interpretation dubbed “narrative criticism” arose, drawing from several literary-critical strands, but most prominently from the reception theory of Iser and literary critics Seymour Chapman and Wayne Booth. Pioneers in this field include David Rhoads and Don Michie, Jack Dean Kingsbury, R. Alan Culpepper, Richard Edwards, and Robert C. Tannehill, all of whom applied this approach to the Gospels (and in Tannehill’s case, also Acts). Their work was joined by that of secular literary critics who engaged their reading strategies to demonstrate how biblical texts function as literature, including Frank Kermode, Robert Alter, and Meir Sternberg. While many elements of the “uniformist” reader-response approach of Iser and others became the basis of narrative criticism, the reader centered theories of Fish and Derrida were adopted by a select few wishing to introduce deconstruction into the rapidly diversifying field of biblical interpretation. Some of the more important engagements of this form of analysis were offered by Stephen Moore. All together, these works marked a surging interest in the application of literary criticism to the biblical texts, which in turn inspired other notable attempts to introduce biblical critics to these reading strategies, such as those offered by Edgar McKnight, Robert Fowler, Mark Allan Powell, Stephen Moore, and A. K. M. Adam among others.

Among the relatively few biblical critics who label their colleagues’ work or their own as “phenomenological,” most take that modifier to mean a mode of investigation focused on a detailed account of how the biblical text is engaged or experienced by a reader, while unconcerned with questions of historical context or authorial intent. Some, in fact, explicitly identify uniformist reader-response strategies as “phenomenological” (e.g., Robert Detweiler and Mark Allen Powell), though the term might apply equally well to most forms of narrative criticism, which build upon Iser’s form of reception theory and the works of literary critics influenced by him. Yet, as I cautioned earlier the term is probably best used as an adjective to modify certain strategies and perspectives rather than as a label designating a specific methodology or even a closely related set of approaches. As with literary criticism, there are several forms of reader response, narrative criticism, and deconstruction making use of phenomenologically inspired strategies, and not all in the same way.

Phenomenology and N. T. Wright’s Critical Realism.

One further caution seems in order. The association of “phenomenological” with only modes of inquiry unconcerned with historical context and authorial intent may obscure the contribution phenomenology has made to other forms of critically inquiry (as noted by Ray earlier), including historiography. One such example in the arena of biblical studies may be the “critical realist” approach articulated and pursued by N. T. Wright in his multi-volume study of Jesus and the early church. Wright emphasizes at the outset of his introduction to his approach the impossibility of pure, objective analysis, using language that would lead most advocates of postmodern “phenomenological” approaches to nod in agreement.

"The legacy of positivism often seduces us into imagining that a “fact” is a “purely objective” thing, unalloyed by the process of knowing on anybody’s part. But in reality what we call “facts” always belong in a context of response, perception, and interaction—a process which is both complex and continuing (The New Testament and the People of God [Minneapolis: Fortress, 1992] p. 83)."

In offering this critique of positivism, Wright places himself in the long lineage of thinkers who have made the phenomenological pursuit their own, attempting to ferret out the complex relationship between humans and the objects they intend and recognizing that this relationship is more sophisticated and problematic than the natural attitude would assume. Yet, this does not mean, for Wright, that historical inquiry is a lost cause. Despite the fact that we can only encounter objects through the interpretive matrixes of our own sense perceptions and worldviews, that does not mean we are shut off from external reality or our ability to speak meaningfully about it.

"There is no need, despite the assertions of many empiricists of a former age and some phenomenalists in more recent times, to reduce talk about objects external to ourselves to talk about our own sense-data, so that instead of saying “this is a desk” I should really only say “I am aware of sensations of hardness, flatness and woodenness such as I usually have when I sit here”, or possibly, to get rid of the suggestion that I have illicitly imported a reference to an actual object, namely myself, “there is here a sensation of hardness, flatness, and woodenness”—or perhaps, more simply, “hardness—flatness—woodenness!” (p. 89)."

In making this assertion, Wright clearly steps back into the natural attitude and outside of the phenomenological reduction, but not in a way and for a purpose that Husserl and many others after him would find problematic. The phenomenological reduction was intended as a suspension of the natural attitude which it presupposed, not a denial of its validity.

[ See also DECONSTRUCTION; LITERARY CRITICISM, LITERARY THEORY, AND THE BIBLE.; NARRATIVE CRITICISM AND NARRATIVE HERMENEUTICS; and READER-RESPONSE CRITICISM.]

Bibliography

  • Adam, A. K. M. What is Postmodern Biblical Criticism? Guides to Biblical Scholarship Series. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1995. Helpful introduction to postmodern literary theory and its use in biblical studies.
  • Alter, Robert. The Art of Biblical Narrative. New York: Basic Books, 1981. An application of modern literary theory to the Hebrew Bible.
  • Anderson, Janice Capel Anderson and Stephen D. Moore, eds. Mark and Method: New Approaches in Biblical Studies. 2d ed. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2008. A collection of essays applying postmodern literary theory to Mark’s Gospel.
  • Beardslee, William A. “Saving One’s Life by Losing It.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 37 (1979): 57–72. An example of a “phenomenological-literary” analysis to the saying about finding one’s life.
  • Booth, Wayne. The Rhetoric of Fiction. 2d ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983. Now a classic introduction to fiction, the text explores how fictional form works, how authors make novels accessible, and how readers recreate texts, using concepts and terms—such as “the implied author,” “the postulated reader,” and “the unreliable narrator”—that have become part of the standard critical lexicon and important to narrative critics.
  • Chapman, Seymour. Story and Discourse: Narrative Structure in Fiction and Film. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1978. Provides a comprehensive approach to a general theory of narrative, in both verbal and visual media. The distinction he makes between story and discourse has become a standard concept in narrative criticism.
  • Crossan, John Dominic. The Dark Interval: Towards a Theology of Story. Salem, Ore.: Polebridge, 1988. First published in 1974, applies modern literary theory to the study of the parables.
  • Culpepper, R. Alan. Anatomy of the Fourth Gospel: A Study in Literary Design. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1983. An early narrative critical study of John’s Gospel.
  • Derrida, Jacques. Speech and Phenomena: and Other Essays on Husserl’s Theory of Signs. Translated by David B. Allison. Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 1973. An important introduction to Derrida’s thought and deconstruction.
  • Detweiler, Robert. “What is a Sacred Text?” Semeia 31 (1985) 213–230. A phenomenological examination with a reader-response analysis of passages speaking to the authority and character of sacred tradition.
  • Ebree, Lester et al., eds. Encyclopedia of Phenomenology. Boston: Kluwer, 1997. A collection of articles that treat the major concepts in phenomenology. It is commonly regarded as one of the most authoritative reference works on phenomenology.
  • Edwards, Richard Alan. Matthew’s Story of Jesus. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1985. An early narrative critical study of Matthew’s Gospel.
  • Fish, Stanley. Is There a Text in This Class? The Authority of Interpretive Communities. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1980. A good source as an introduction to Fish’s version of reception theory.
  • Fowler, Robert M. Let the Reader Understand: Reader-response Criticism and the Gospel of Mark. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1991. An early reader-response study of Mark’s Gospel that created within biblical studies a more focused close-reading of the biblical texts.
  • Funk, Robert W. Language, Hermeneutic and the Word of God: The Problem of Language in the New Testament and Contemporary Theology. New York: Harper, 1966. An early investigation of recent developments in hermeneutical theory and how they might contribute to the understanding of the Bible as scripture.
  • Funk, Robert W. The Poetics of Biblical Narrative. Sonoma, Calif.: Polebridge, 1988. An application of modern literary theory to biblical narrative.
  • Gadamer, Hans-Georg. “The Phenomenological Movement.” In his Philosophical Hermeneutics, edited and translated by David E. Linge. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1976, 130–181. A review of the main themes in the history of phenomenology.
  • Gadamer, Hans-Georg. Truth and Method. Rev. ed. New York: Continuum, 2004. First published in 1960, a now classic work in hermeneutical theory.
  • Guigon, Charles, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Heidegger. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1993. Ten essays on Heidegger’s thought with introductory overview and extensive bibliography.
  • Heidegger, Martin. Being and Time. SUNY Series in Contemporary Continental Philosophy. Translated by Joan Stambaugh. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2010. English translation of Heidegger’s most famous work, Sein und Zeit, first published in 1927.
  • Hirsch, E. D. Validity in Interpretation. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1967. One of the best-known attempts to re-establish the author’s meaning as the normative principle of interpretation.
  • Husserl, Edmund. The Idea of Phenomenology. Translated by L. Hardy. Boston: Kluwer, 2010. English translation of five lectures Husserl offered in 1907.
  • Husserl, Edmund. Logical Investigations. International Library of Philosophy. Dermot Moran, ed. Translated by J. N. Findlay. 2 vols. English translation of Husserl’s most famous work, first published in 1901.
  • Ingarden, Roman. The Literary Work of Art: An Investigation on the Borderlines of Ontology, Logic, and Theory of Literature. Northwestern University Studies in Phenomenology & Existential Philosophy. Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 1973. First published in 1931, presents Ingarden’s version of reception theory.
  • Iser, Wolfgang. The Implied Reader: Patterns of Communication on Prose Fiction from Bunyan to Beckett. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1974. An introduction to Iser’s form of reception theory and the concept of the implied reader, both important to narrative critical and reader-response treatments of biblical narrative.
  • Kermode, Frank. The Genesis of Secrecy: On the Interpretation of Narrative. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1979. An application of modern literary theory to the Gospels.
  • Kingsbury, Jack Dean. The Christology of Mark’s Gospel. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1983. An early narrative critical study focusing on Mark’s use of the secrecy motif. Widely read as an example of narrative critical method and considered a key work in the study of Mark’s Christology.
  • Kockelmans, Joseph J. Edmund Husserl’s Phenomenology. West Lafayette, Ind.: Purdue University Press, 1997. Biographical sketch and an overview of the salient features of Husserl’s thought.
  • McKenna, William R., and J. Claude Evans, eds. Derrida and Phenomenology. Dordrecht, Netherlands: Kluwer, 1995. A review of the relationship between phenomenology and deconstruction.
  • McKnight, Edgar. The Bible and the Reader: An Introduction to Literary Criticism. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1985. An introduction to the use of literary critical theory and the role of the reader in the study of the Bible.
  • Moore, Stephen. Literary Criticism and the Gospels: The Theoretical Challenge. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1992. A survey of new literary criticism of the Gospels, tracing its emergence and development, and providing an introduction to the works of critics such as Fish, Derrida, Tannehill, Kelber, and Moore.
  • Moore, Stephen. Mark and Luke in Post-Structuralist Perspective. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1991. An excellent introduction to reading Mark and Luke, applying the poststructuralist techniques of Derrida, Lacan, and Foucault.
  • Newing, Edward. “The Rhetoric of Hope: The Theological Structure of Genesis–2 Kings.” Colloquium 17 (1985): 1–15. An argument for using the term “phenomenological” to refer to a synchronic, literary analysis of the text in its final form.
  • Powell, Mark Allen. What is Narrative Criticism? Guides to Biblical Scholarship Series. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1990. A helpful introductory guide to narrative criticism and its relationship to modern literary theory and reader-response criticism.
  • Rhoads, David, Joanna Dewey, and Donald Michie. Mark as Story: An Introduction to a Narrative of a Gospel. 2d ed. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1999. The first narrative critical study of an entire Gospel, first published in 1982. This work is widely cited and read as a helpful introduction to narrative criticism.
  • Roth, Wolfgang. “You are the Man! Structural Interaction in 2 Samuel 10–12.” Semeia 8 (1977) 1–13. An exploration of 2 Samuel 10–12 using a “phenomenological-structural” method.
  • Smith, Barry, and David Woodruff Smith, eds. The Cambridge Companion to Husserl. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1995. Collection of essays on Husserl’s thought with introductory overview and extensive bibliography.
  • Sokolowski, Robert. Introduction to Phenomenology. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2000. Helpful introduction to the main features of phenomenology.
  • Sternberg, Meir. The Poetics of Biblical Narrative: Ideological Literature and the Drama of Reading. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1985. An application of modern literary theory to the Hebrew Bible.
  • Tannehill, Robert C. The Narrative Unity of Luke-Acts: A Literary Interpretation. 2 vols. Philadelphia and Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1986 and 1990. An early narrative critical study of Luke-Acts.
  • Via, Dan O. The Parables: Their Literary and Existential Dimension. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1967. An application of modern literary theory to the study of the parables.

Karl Allen Kuhn