Chapter

Religious Interpretation

Kent Greenawalt

in Legal Interpretation

Published in print November 2010 | ISBN: 9780199756131
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199855292 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199756131.003.0004
Religious Interpretation

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This chapter examines how religious texts are interpreted. It begins by briefly exploring two related topics that are also relevant for ordinary law: Firstly, what counts as authoritative or canonical texts to be interpreted? Secondly, who can render authoritative or reliable interpretations? The chapter argues that as social conditions and attitudes evolve, interpretations of norms inevitably do and should change. Only with such change can religious traditions flourish over time. But even this insight does not help much in resolving crucial questions about interpreting secular law. The reason is that, although everyone agrees that secular law, as a whole, must change, that does not establish that judges, as contrasted with legislators and constitutional enactors, should be self-conscious organs for statutory and constitutional evolution.

Keywords: religious texts; textual interpretation; modern secular law; Jewish interpretation; Christian interpretation; Muslim interpretation

Chapter.  21308 words. 

Subjects: Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law

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