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Exegesis vs Hermeneutics: Biblical and Statutory Interpretation

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What is a key difference between exegesis and hermeneutics?

Exegesis is focused on biblical interpretation, while hermeneutics is focused on statutory interpretation.

What do exegesis and hermeneutics have in common?

They both interpret established authoritative texts with regard to current concrete situations.

What is a key aspect of Gadamer's hermeneutics?

It takes into cognizance the socio-historical situation or context of the interpreter.

What is true about the meaning of words and phrases in hermeneutics?

Their meaning is derived from the total use of language, including the context.

What is the analogy that illustrates the importance of context in interpretation?

A Picasso painting analogy

What is the significance of Picasso's 'Guernica' painting in the context of hermeneutics?

It is a universal image of the atrocities of war.

What is the goal of exegesis?

To interpret biblical texts.

What is a key similarity between exegesis and hermeneutics?

They both have an existential urgency.

What was the primary goal of drafting English legislation?

To ensure legal certainty and cover possible future cases

What was the approach to statutory interpretation adopted in South Africa after the British occupation?

The English rules of statutory interpretation

What was the primary focus in determining the intention of the legislature in the Union Government v Mack case?

The clear and unambiguous meaning of the words

What was the approach adopted in the Farrar's Estate v CIR case?

The same approach as in the Mack case

What was the significance of the R v Kirk case?

It emphasized the importance of the ordinary, grammatical meaning of the text

What is the primary principle of constructing Acts of Parliament according to the Engels v Allied Chemical Manufacturers (Pty) Ltd case?

The intention of the legislature expressed in the Acts themselves

What was the significance of the De Villiers v Cape Divisional Council case?

It introduced the textual approach

What was the approach adopted in the Dadoo Ltd v Krugersdorp Municipal Council case?

The same approach as in the Mack and Farrar's Estate cases

What is the focus of deconstruction?

Judicial decisions and accountability

What is a key characteristic of meaning according to the linguistic turn?

It is boundless and limitless

What are the two main approaches to statutory interpretation in South Africa?

The literal and the purposive approaches

According to the Primary Rule of Interpretation, what should be done if the meaning of the text is clear?

The meaning should be applied as it is clear and equated with the legislature's intention

What is the significance of questioning existing dogmas, beliefs, and orthodoxies in the context of the law?

It enables the law to adapt and change

What is the main difference between the literal and the purposive approaches to statutory interpretation?

The literal approach focuses on the text, while the purposive approach considers the context

Why is it important to consider the cultural and ideological value systems of the interpreter?

Because they can influence the interpretation of the text

What is the significance of the linguistic turn in the context of interpretation?

It highlights the role of the interpreter in making meaning

What is the main purpose of the South African Citizenship Act 88 of 1995?

To establish a single South African citizenship

What is the effect of Section 2(1)(a) and (b) of the amended Citizenship Act?

Deprivation of citizenship acquired by birth

What is the purpose of Section 3 of the pre-amendment South African Citizenship Act?

To register births of South African citizens

What is the significance of Section 13 of the Births and Deaths Registration Act?

It is concerned with the registration of births and deaths

What is the basis of the Constitutional Challenge in the Pass and Prosper case?

Interaction of three different provisions in different Acts

What is the purpose of Section 20 of the Constitution?

To protect citizens from deprivation of citizenship

What is the approach to interpretation in the Pass and Prosper case?

Purposive interpretation

What is the effect of the order of constitutional invalidity not being confirmed?

The status quo remains unchanged

What should a court do if a provision is incapable of a reasonable interpretation that is constitutional?

Set it aside and render it null and void

What is the focus of the court in the Bato Star Fishing v The Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism case?

Transformation

What is the role of the court in interpreting the Constitution?

To interpret the Constitution as the supreme law of the Republic

What approach to interpretation did the court adopt in the Commissioner for the South African Revenue Service v The Executor of the Estate of the Late Waldo Earl Frith case?

A strict and textual approach

What is the significance of the intention of the legislature in the interpretation process?

It is the primary consideration in interpretation

What is the consequence of a provision being incapable of a reasonable interpretation that is constitutional?

It is set aside and rendered null and void

What is the relationship between the Constitution and the laws of the Republic?

The laws of the Republic are subordinate to the Constitution

What is the primary goal of the court in interpreting the Constitution?

To ensure the Constitution is upheld as the supreme law of the Republic

Study Notes

Exegesis and Hermeneutics

  • Exegesis relates to biblical interpretation
  • Hermeneutics relates to statutory interpretation
  • Similarities between exegesis and hermeneutics:
    • Interpret established authoritative texts with regard to current concrete situations
    • Both have an existential urgency
    • Interpreter must deal with demands of changing situations
    • Interpretation is influenced by history
  • Differences between exegesis and hermeneutics:
    • Legislation has a distinct style
    • Biblical text is "closed" (complete/finished)

Gadamer's Hermeneutics

  • Took into cognizance the socio-historical situation or context of interpreter (contextual approach hermeneutics)
  • Words and phrases do not have an inherent meaning, but meaning is derived from the total use of language, including the context used
  • Therefore, the science of understanding is not a mechanical process but includes the contribution of the interpreter's value judgment

Context and Interpretation

  • Importance of considering context when interpreting text or images
  • Example: Picasso's Guernica painting
    • Based on Spanish Civil War
    • Now a universal image of the atrocities of war
    • Deconstruction shifts focus to judicial choices and accountability

The Linguistic Turn

  • Meaning is not discovered in a text but is made in dealing with the text
  • Meaning is never at any given time, fixed and stable
  • Possibilities for meaning are boundless
  • Only by questioning existing dogmas, beliefs, and orthodoxies will the law be able to adapt and change

South African Overview of Theories of Interpretation

  • Two main approaches to statutory interpretation in South Africa:
    • The literal (text-based) approach
    • The purposive (text-in-context) approach

The Literal Approach

  • Interpreter should concentrate primarily on the literal meaning of the provision to be interpreted
  • Primary Rule of Interpretation:
    • If the meaning of the text is clear, it should be applied and equated with the legislature's intention
    • Examples:
      • Principal Immigration Officer v Hawabu
      • The Commissioner for the South African Revenue Service v The Executor of the Estate of the Late Waldo Earl Frith

Key Cases in South African Statutory Interpretation

  • Bato Star Fishing v The Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism
  • De Villiers v Cape Divisional Council
  • Union Government v Mack
  • Farrar's Estate v CIR
  • R v Kirk
  • Engels v Allied Chemical Manufacturers (Pty) Ltd
  • Chisuse and others v Director General, Department of Home Affairs and Another
    • Importance of purposive interpretation in determining constitutionality of legislation

Test your understanding of exegesis and hermeneutics, two concepts that developed separately but share similarities in interpreting authoritative texts. Learn about their differences and applications in biblical and statutory interpretation.

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