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A proposed close reason states that for an exegetical question to be on-topic, it needs to "start from the text." I am wondering if we can bring more clarity as to what this phrase means. What are some examples of questions that start from the text, and what are some examples of questions that do not?

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Useful question, but a little tricky to answer.

It is a lot easier to find examples on the site of questions that do 'start from the text' than those that don't of course: because we've been closing/deleting questions that start from an idea or framework since the early days of the site.

Also, many bad questions that arrive on the site are bad for more than one reason - to really show the point of this close reason, we'd ideally like to be able to compare good questions that start from the text with otherwise equally good questions that don't.

I've tried to give examples by picking some highly upvoted posts that obviously start from the text, and modifying them subtly so that the underlying intention of the OP now appears to be to get an answer to a question about an idea rather than to get an answer to a question about a text:


on-topic:

enter image description here

off-topic:

enter image description here


on-topic:

enter image description here

off-topic:

enter image description here


There won't be many questions like the above 'off-topic' examples, there'll be far more that are blatantly off-topic and make no attempt to tie the question to a particular text, but I'm trying to show how this close reason will be useful even in subtle cases where:

  1. A related text is quoted
  2. The OP's intent is not really to examine the text
  3. The OP is unlikely to be satisfied with an answer that focuses on the text and shift's focus away from the 'idea' (eg "actually, this text is not about marriage post-fall at all, it only applies to relations between Adam and Eve")
  4. The OP is likely to up-vote/accept an answer which ignores the text quoted entirely and simply focuses on the 'idea' (possibly by leaping to one or more other texts instead)
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  • It might be helpful to have an example that elucidates the difference between this close reason and the existing close reason regarding systematic theology. These example questions would both already be closed, no?
    – Soldarnal
    May 11 '15 at 23:39
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    @Soldarnal I have no idea, because I don't know what everyone else means by 'systematic theology'. I have taken to using a custom close reason and saying "doesn't start from the text" because I understand what that means. Jon's suggestion is to "retire the systematic theology reason and substitute the doesn't start from the text reason". May 12 '15 at 9:27
  • tbh I think this close reason would usefully replace both 'systematic theology' and 'searching for a text' May 12 '15 at 9:28
  • well, all three reasons even. To my way of thinking it captures the essence of topicality here. Other close reasons could be used for other edge cases that come up as the site grows perhaps. May 12 '15 at 13:46
  • @Jack (A.) The fact that it is a "Tricky Answer", is proof enough that this standard is to ambiguous and burdensome. (B.) And so, there should be be no close reason for, "Doesn't Start from the Text." Perhaps : "Doesn't Associate to a Text" , or even, "Doesn't Contribute to a Text." ... etc. May 14 '15 at 2:33
  • @eskohen I meant it's a tricky question because the good off-topic examples have been deleted May 14 '15 at 7:26

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