This project starts out from the vision books of Hildegard of Bingen, which present allegorical visions together with their exegesis. The project asks whether this use of allegorical creation could be explained as a tool for exegetical explanation that allows the reader to visualise, dramatize and perform the exegesis.
Because exegetical texts are strongly focused on the reader’s acquisition of knowledge and understanding, we can assume that the use of literary allegory in such works serves a direct didactic function. If we take a look at monastic practices of imaginative reading and performative exegesis, which is the lively enactment of an interpretation in the mind of the interpreter or for real, possibly with role playing and incorporation, we begin to see how allegory could have the effect of dramatizing the reader’s role in the text.
Three elements are at play in this hypothesis: the exegesis of a source text, the composition of allegory, and the performance of reading. These elements are conjoined by two subsequent processes of interpretation: the writer interprets a source text not just by translating elements but by creating new allegorical images, which in turn should not be just interpreted but incorporated or at least dramatized by the reader. This approach thus looks at how literary methods, specifically allegory, may activate in exegetical texts the latent potential for dramatization in order to contribute to the exegetical quest for understanding.