Original Research

Inference and Relevance in Paul's Allegory of the Wild Olive Tree

P. J. Maartens
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 53, No 4 | a1758 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v53i4.1758 | © 1997 P. J. Maartens | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 14 December 1997 | Published: 14 December 1997

About the author(s)

P. J. Maartens, Department of Biblical Literature University of Durban-Westville, South Africa

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Relevance theory accounts for Paul's preference for 'the wild olive' tree in using horticultural practices of grafting to symbolise his mission to the Gentiles. The olive tree facilitates inclusive imagery. The principle of ostensive inferential communication also accounts for the violation of horticultural conventions. Relevance juxtaposes God who calls and Israel that fails. The remnant as cultivated olive is the balance of this process. Relevance 'roots' the symbolism in election and the covenant as origins of Israel. Israel obtains eschatological relevance and significance. Gentile Christians are drawn into eschatological Israel. The church is rooted in continuity with the historical Israel. The juxtaposition of different readings renders all interpretation relative. Yet, changing the cognitive environment of its readers guarantees the relevance of exegetical discourse.


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