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11 JULY 2014

The Adventure of English: the evolution of the English language

"The Adventure of English is a British television series (ITV) on the history of the English presented by Melvyn Bragg as well as a companion book, also written by Bragg. The series ran in 2003.

The series and the book are cast as an adventure story, or the biography of English as if it were a living being, covering the history of the language from its modest beginnings around 500 AD as a minor Germanic dialect to its rise as a truly established global language.

In the television series, Bragg explains the origins and spelling of many words based on the times in which they were introduced into the growing language that would eventually become modern English."

[Complete eight part series available on YouTube distributed by Maxwell's collection Pty Limited, Australia]



2002 • A Dictionary of the English Language • American English • American Spelling Book • Anglo-SaxonArabicaristocracyAustraliaAustralian Aborigineauthoritative historyBible • Blue Backed Speller • British televisionCaribbean • Catherine of Aragon • Celtic language • Celts • Church of England • cockney rhyming slang • colonisationcommon languagecommunication • Convicts land • dialectdictionaryDutch • educated people • English languageEsperantoFrenchFrench languageFrisian • Frisian language • Gaelic • Germanic rootsgrammarGreek • Gullah language • Hebrew • Henry V of England • Henry VIII of England • historical eventshistoryhistory of ideas • History of the English language • history of useimmigrationIndiaindustrial revolutioninvasionIsaac NewtonITVJamaicanJane Austen • John Cheke • John WycliffeJonathan Swift • Joseph McCoy • Katherine Duncan-Jones • King James I • languagelanguage developmentLatin wordlinguisticsmedieval churchMelvyn Braggmini-series • modern English • Netherlands • Noah Webster • North America • Old English • peasant • Philip Sidne • pidgin • pronunciation • Queen Elizabeth I • Robert Burns • Rural Rides • Samuel JohnsonSanskritScotland • Scottish language • scripture • spelling • Squanto • television series • The Adventure of English (2002) • theologian • Thomas Sheridan • United Statesuse of wordsvikingvocabulary • Websters Dictionary • West Africa • William Cobbett • William Jones • William Shakespeare • William the Conqueror • William Tyndale • William Wordsworth • words


Simon Perkins
19 MAY 2013

Ways In and Out of the Hermeneutic Circle

"In this lecture, Professor Paul Fry examines acts of reading and interpretation by way of the theory of hermeneutics. The origins of hermeneutic thought are traced through Western literature. The mechanics of hermeneutics, including the idea of a hermeneutic circle, are explored in detail with reference to the works of Hans–George Gadamer, Martin Heidegger, and E. D. Hirsch. Particular attention is paid to the emergence of concepts of 'historicism' and 'historicality' and their relation to hermeneutic theory."

(Open Yale Courses, 22 January 2009)



2009 • Alexander Pope • Being and Time (1927) • Christian tradition • circularity • common ground • cult of genius • Eric Donald Hirsch • fore-having • fore-project • fore-structure • Friedrich Schleiermacher • Hans-Georg Gadamerhermeneutic circlehermeneutic horizonhermeneutic theory • hermeneutic thought • hermeneutics • historicality • historicism • history of hermeneutics • imagined whole • interpret meaningsinterpretation • interpretative engagement • Mark Akenside • Martin Heidegger • mechanics of hermeneutics • moving back and forth • Northrop Frye • Open Yale Courses • opinionpart • Paul Fry • preconception • prejudgment • prejudices (prior awareness) • preliminary conception • preliminary idea • prior judgment • Protestant ReformationProtestantismreligion • sacred scripture • Samuel Johnsonscripture • secular scripture • supposed whole • Talmudic scholarship • The Reformation • theory of hermeneutics • theory of literature • transparency of meaningviewpoint • Voruteil • Western literature • whole • Wilhelm Dilthey • William Kurtz Wimsatt • Yale University


Simon Perkins
06 JULY 2011

The Preface as Exegesis

"A preface provides a way into understanding a book: by stating its subject and scope, by commenting on techniques employed or themes addressed, or by focussing on a central or contentious issue. Prefacing involves an explicatory introduction to a reading of a work.

Some writers are more prone to prefacing than others. In the last century, three great exponents of the preface have been Graham Greene, Vladimir Nabokov and John Barth. Greene's prefaces are usually succinct, genuinely concerned with aspects of the writing process, and sometimes wryly humorous. ...

The idea of exegesis is not a recent imposition of universities upon creative writing; it is a long–term and also current feature of our overall culture. For almost two thousand years (as long as the word 'exegesis' can be backtracked in its significance) people have asked for explanations that linked written works produced in the culture to main concerns of the culture. Partly this has been a low culture plea to high culture. Partly it has been an element of ongoing high culture debate over contentious issues. 'Tell me further what you mean – analyse and dissect and orientate – so that I can more fully understand and believe you,' the culture has asked of texts on the one hand. But also it has said: 'Tell me further what you mean, so that I can better argue with you.' These are, I think, the two arms of the nature of exegesis."

(Nigel Krauth)

Krauth, N. (2002). "The Preface as Exegesis." TEXT 6(1).


Australian universitiesBible • canonical text • commentary • contentious issues • creative writingcritical explanationculturedefinitionsexegesis • explanations • expositionhigh culture • interpretative text • linked written works • low cultureNigel KrauthPhD • preface • scripture • the nature of exegesis • treatise • universities


Simon Perkins
18 FEBRUARY 2009

Reconsidering the Rushdie affair: free-speech, censorship and 'The Satanic Verses'

"The history of modern Iran provides a dramatic illustration of the fallacy represented by the modern jingoism of 'better our imperialism than theirs'. For the two forms of imperialism are actually intimately related. By forcefully imposing Western values on Muslim states we are merely creating the ideal conditions for the very form of Islamic imperialism we most fear. At the same time, by maintaining an attitude of almost complete insensitivity in relation to The Satanic Verses we are feeding the cruel fundamentalism we seek to oppose. For the continued prestige of the novel in the West is itself a source of cultural humiliation for countless thousands of Muslims both in this country and elsewhere.

Most ironically of all, by persisting in their intransigent support for Rushdie's novel, Western liberals are demonstrating not their strength but their weakness. For it is by having the courage to correct mistakes and misjudgments that cultures ultimately demonstrate their strength.

In this respect Salman Rushdie's reflections on his own possible fallibility are highly significant. In his essay 'In Good Faith', he writes: 'Would I have written differently if I had known what would happen? Truthfully, I don't know. Would I change any of the text now? I would not. It's too late. As Friedrich Dürrenmatt wrote in The Physicists: 'What has once been thought cannot be unthought.' '

The flaw in this argument is that the quotation from Dürrenmatt addresses a quite different problem from that which is at issue. It is quite true that 'what has once been thought cannot be unthought' but thoughts are not words. They are essentially private and the fact that we cannot 'unthink' them is irrelevant to the Rushdie affair. For it is one of the conditions of human freedom that we can choose whether or not to voice in public the thoughts that we have in private. And having once chosen to commit our thoughts to speech or to writing we remain free to have 'second thoughts' – to revise, change or even completely repudiate what we have already said.

It is, indeed, almost a precondition of successful human relationships that we should remain free to withdraw or apologise for remarks which have proved hurtful, to 'unsay' things which we have already said and to put right mistakes or misjudgments. To place ourselves in a position where we are unable to do this is a sign not of liberty but of rigidity. Indeed, when Rushdie claims that he cannot alter or withdraw what he has written, he appears to invest himself with the infallibility which traditional religious believers normally ascribe to their gods and their divinely inspired prophets. It is just such delusions which lead to the monolithic and terrible certainties of scripture. By implicitly applying a scriptural doctrine of inerrancy to his own secular writing Rushdie has come close to making a novel – a human fable – into something as rigid and dangerous as scripture itself."
(Richard Webster, 1992)


censorshipcultural sensitivityethics • free-speech • Friedrich Dürrenmatt • fundamentalismimperialismIranIslamIslamophobiajingoismMuslim • Richard Webster • Salman Rushdie • Satanic Verses • scripturetradition • unsay • unthought


Simon Perkins

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