I was reading an interview with Peter Enns over at The Pangea Blog. They talk about his book on Ecclesiastes. Peter says:
"The main character of the book, called Qohelet, has some pretty harsh things to say about life as an Israelite. He is not simply skeptical. He is undone. He is in faith-crisis mode, and he pulls no punches letting us know it. His big beef is with God. Qohelet is angry with him."
That says a lot about what was going on inside Qohelet. I'm not saying Peter is wrong (although I do have a different take on Ecclesiastes). I think we can infer that type of thing from the text. It just seems that some people (not necessarily Peter) are cautious when it comes to mirror-reading but have no problem reconstructing the psyche of someone. I've heard many sermons where the preacher talks about how David felt this way, Abraham thought this, or Paul was this type of person. They'll even talk about how God felt and what He thought even when it's not explicit in the text. So, although they are leery of reconstructing the specific events that mirror-reading can bring to light, they embrace reconstructing the persons, personalities and psychologies of Biblical authors and characters.
I also recently listened to a debate between Reza Aslan and Anthony Le Donne on Unbelievable? with Justin Brierely. Aslan attempts to reconstruct the person of Jesus, although he excludes much of the New Testament text about Jesus.
When we do this type of thing I wonder if we are driven by creating the characters in our own image. It seems like Peter Enns has had his own crisis of faith and so Qohelet is also similar. Aslan has a history of desiring political change, and so Jesus is a political revolutionary. Are Enns and Aslan drawn to those characters because that's who they truly were, or are they reading their own personalities into the characters? To be sure, they offer evidence for their views, but I can't help but think that who they are colors their view. They are also concerned with the original readers but stick with the broad historical context instead of the more specific situational context that mirror-reading can provide. It is, of course, impossible to be completely objective, but I find it all thought provoking.
One of the reasons that I like mirror-reading is because it takes the focus off of trying to fit one's own situation or own theology into the text and focuses on the original reader's situation. And yet, I wonder if my own personality is coloring my own conclusions.