Relevance theory and apocalyptic literature

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Matthew Longhorn
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Relevance theory and apocalyptic literature

Post by Matthew Longhorn » February 11th, 2018, 3:10 pm

I have come across a number of books dealing with biblical issues in the light of relevance theory and am wondering how the notion of relevance fits with apocalyptic literature.
Relevance theory that I have read (I am currently going through Billy Clark's book on it) indicates that there is a presumption of optimal relevance in the case of ostensive-inferential communication, namely that communicator is presumed to be communicating in such a way as to maximise positive cognitive effects with the minimal effort by the recipient to the best of the communicator's ability.
How does relevance theory fit with apocalyptic literature like Revelation? What pragmatic inferences are intended by the reader as we find the effort increasing and the communication more obscure. Is this more an issue of temporal and cultural distance causing this issue for modern readers?
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Barry Hofstetter
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Re: Relevance theory and apocalyptic literature

Post by Barry Hofstetter » February 12th, 2018, 8:26 am

For that matter, how does relevance theory relate to James Joyce's Ulysses? Or Vergil's Aeneid?
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N.E. Barry Hofstetter
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Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
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Matthew Longhorn
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Re: Relevance theory and apocalyptic literature

Post by Matthew Longhorn » February 12th, 2018, 8:56 am

Having not read those I can only Look at it from the perspective of relevance itself. Clark indicates that something that is not true as in fiction can actually be relevant given that the author is working in a context that is understood to be fictional. The audience will still assume that they can derive positive cognitive effects from the story within the confines of the fictional world.

Not sure if this remotely deals with your reply, so sorry if I have just gone off on a tangent
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Barry Hofstetter
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Re: Relevance theory and apocalyptic literature

Post by Barry Hofstetter » February 12th, 2018, 9:57 am

And the point of my question is this, that "relevance" is relative to the literary genre and intended purpose of the writer. Think of the parables, whose purpose was as much to obscure as to enlighten.
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N.E. Barry Hofstetter
Instructor of Latin
Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
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Matthew Longhorn
Posts: 92
Joined: November 10th, 2017, 2:48 pm
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Re: Relevance theory and apocalyptic literature

Post by Matthew Longhorn » February 12th, 2018, 10:21 am

Ah, understood, I definitely went on a tangent then.
Agreed on your point that it is relative, need to remember that. I was just trying to work out whether it is even compatible with things like Revelation, or whether I am just struggling because I don’t understand the genre
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