But for now, notice the fundamental presumption upon which the concept of objective interpretation rests, namely that there is a canon of interpretive rules to which we apply to the text in order for it to yield the interpretive goods. A friend of mine recently characterized the proper method for interpretation this way: 1) identify the literary genre, 2) identify the pericope, 3) isolate lexical and syntactical hinges, synthesize and principlize, 4) establish biblical-theological implications, 5) develop pluriform homiletical application (read both the excellent post and the comments in the above link!). But where do these rules come from? Is it common sense to "identify the pericope" or "isolate lexical and syntactical hinges"? How do we know that the intent of the human author should serve as the desiderata of legitimate interpretation? Beyond these problems, how can it be that our earliest Christian heritage reflected in patristic interpretation fundamentally violates and subverts these notions in a hundred ways? More on that later.
But back to this problem of interpretive desiderata. On what basis can a person defend "objective" methods such as the ones above as truly "biblical" norms for understanding Scripture? Without some authoritative source it remains unclear how the application of such principles can ever be truly "objective", especially if it is always up to the interpreter's personal judgment to determine in what manner (and according to what priority) these principles are applied. Ultimately, the inability of rooting a scientific method of interpretation within the Bible itself proves to be the Achilles heel of an objectivist, exclusively author-oriented interpretation. Moreover, neither the apostles nor contemporary Jewish interpreters seemed to be aware that they were saddled with this kind of interpretive responsibility.
More on that later.
But this is not to forsake Scripture as an authoritative divine word in favor of relativistic nihilism (by which queer interpretation is on the same playing field as traditional sermonizing). It is, instead, a recognition that the Bible is in fact not just like any other book. The interpretation of it requires a distinctively theological hermeneutics which understands the Scriptures as more than an artifact to be studied under purportedly objective scientific criteria. The Scriptures should not be understood to contain a communicative act of God which must be dug up, analyzed and decoded, but rather as the very communicative act of God itself. As such the only appropriate hermeneutical method will be shaped by Christian conviction and the dictates of Christian virtue modeled within the historic community of the Christian faith. It will also be a dialogical hermeneutic, in which the reader's context plays some important role in understanding the message, as true communication can't be achieved by an interpretive strategy that only goes one way. Gadamer was right to say that situatedness should not be seen as a handicap to be surmounted in interpretation, but instead a vehicle for understanding. Revelation is apprehended (and transformation is experienced) not by way of some quasi-Gnostic transportation from the self into the heavens, but by the wrestling which takes place in the fusion of the reader's personhood with the "other" of the text. Obliteration of the self in order to understand divine truths is an old heresy which now masquerades as interpretive integrity under the auspices of Enlightenment values.
Far from being an "anything goes" type of reading, it commends that an interpreter continue to do business with the text in order to shape, refine and challenge his understanding of it. Far from making truth inaccessible or glutting the theological task with uncertainty it recognizes that truth comes in covenantal contact with God through the way Scripture acts upon its hearers. The Scriptures facilitate this relationship by the power of the Spirit, not simply by propositions to be believed (though this is one important communicative act of God), but by promises to be trusted, commands to be followed and narratives to be entered into. In all of these ways the text must be seen as more than just a recipe for theological description, but as speech acts which remain relevant not because of some concocted scheme for "application", but through the abiding illocutionary power they contain as performative utterances. Kevin J. Vanhoozer speaks of the illocution of Scripture taking place at the level of sentence, text and canon such that the authorial intention transcends the human author even as human authors mediate the divine discourse. Thus:
To limit oneself to recovering only the human authorial intentions is to fall short of theological interpretation. And to impose one's own intentions or the intentions of one's community is to fail to guard oneself from potential idols (K. Vanhoozer).