Geertz (The Interpretation Of Cultures (Basic Books Classics)) has some insightful things to say about interpretation. “A good interpretation of anything,” he says, “takes us to the heart of that of which it is the interpretation. When it does not do that, but leads us instead somewhere else – into an admiration of its own elegance, of its author’s cleverness, or of the beauties of Euclidean order – it may have its intrinsic charms; but it is something else than what the task at hand – figuring out what all that rigamarole is about – calls for” (18).
And this: “Cultural analysis is (or should be) guessing at meanings, assessing the guesses, and drawing explanatory conclusions from the better guesses, not discovering the Continent of Meaning and mapping out its bodiless landscape” (20).
Biblical interpreters have a good deal to learn from those two statements.