Hermeneutics Applied to a Stop Sign

1. A post modernist deconstructs the sign by knocking it over with his car, and thus ends the tyranny of the north-south traffic over the east-west traffic.

2. The Marxist refuses to stop because she sees the stop sign as an instrument of class conflict, since the bourgeois use the north-south route and obstruct the proletariat moving east-west.

3. A serious and educated Catholic rolls through the intersection because he believes he cannot understand the stop sign apart from its interpretive community and tradition. Observing that the interpretive community doesn’t take it too seriously, he doesn’t feel obligated to take it too seriously either.

4. Average Catholics and mainline denominationalists don’t bother to read the sign but will stop if the car in front does.

5. A fundamentalist, taking the text very literally, stops at the stop sign and waits for it to tell her to go.

6. A seminary educated evangelical preacher will research the meaning of “STOP” and discover that the word indicates something which prevents motion (i.e. plug for drain) or a location to leave passengers. The lesson is that STOP signs indicate clogged traffic, so it’s a good place to drop riders.

7. An orthodox Jew takes routes devoid of stops to eliminate the risk of disobeying the Law.

8. A scholar from the Jesus Seminar concludes that the passage “STOP” was never uttered by Jesus, since he would not stifle peoples’ progress. So, STOP is a textual insertion from stage III of the gospel tradition, when the church was first confronted by traffic in its parking lot.

9. A New Testament scholar notices that there is no stop sign on Mark street but there is one on Matthew and Luke streets, and concludes that the ones on Luke and Matthew streets are both copied from a sign on a street no one has ever seen called “Q” street. Extensive research has been done on the differences between stop signs on Matthew and Luke streets, but nothing to explain the meaning of the text.

10. An Old Testament scholar points out that there are a number of stylistic differences between the first and second half of the STOP. The “ST” contains no enclosed areas and five line endings, whereas “OP” contains two enclosed areas and only one line termination. He concludes that the author for the second part is different from the author on the first part and probably lived hundreds of years later. Other scholars determine that the second half is itself actually written by two separate authors because of similar stylistic differences between the “O” and the “P.”

11. Another OT scholar notes that the stop sign would fit better into the context three streets back, having been moved to its present location by a later redactor. He thus exegetes the intersection as though the sign were not there.

12. Yet another OT scholar amends the text, changing the “T” to “H”. The resulting SHOP is much easier to understand in context than “STOP” because of the multiplicity of stores in the area. The textual corruption is easily explained as a form geschichte alteration. Thus, the sign announces the existence of a shopping area. If this is true, it could indicate that both meanings are valid, thus making the message “STOP & SHOP.”

13. A “prophetic” preacher notices that the square root of the sum of the numeric representations of the letters S-T-O-P (sigma-tau-omicron-pi in Greek), multiplied by 40 (the number of testing), and divided by 4 (the four corners) equals 666, the dreaded “mark of the beast.” All STOPS are therefore satanic.