Theology, Hermeneutics, and Imagination: The Crisis of Interpretation at the End of Modernity

Theology, Hermeneutics, and Imagination: The Crisis of Interpretation at the End of Modernity

Theology, Hermeneutics, and Imagination: The Crisis of Interpretation at the End of Modernity

Theology, Hermeneutics, and Imagination: The Crisis of Interpretation at the End of Modernity

Synopsis

This book explores the contemporary crisis of biblical interpretation by examining modern and postmodern forms of the 'hermeneutics of suspicion'. Garrett Green looks at several thinkers who played key roles in creating a radically suspicious reading of the Bible. After Kant, Hamann, and Feuerbach comes Nietzsche, who marked the turn from modern to postmodern suspicion. Green argues that similarities between Derrida's deconstruction and Barth's theology of signs show that postmodern suspicion ought not to be viewed simply as a threat to theology but as a secular counterpart to its own hermeneutical insights. When theology attends to its proper task of describing the grammar of scriptural imagination, it discovers a source of suspicion more radical than the secular, the hermeneutical expression of God's gracious judgement. Green concludes that Christians are committed to the hermeneutical imperative, the never-ending struggle for the meaning of scripture in the hopeful insecurity of the faithful imagination.

Excerpt

This book is a revised and expanded version of the Edward Cadbury Lectures, delivered at the University of Birmingham in February and March 1998, under the title “The Faithful Imagination: Theological Hermeneutics in an Age of Suspicion. ” The present text includes additional material, for which time did not suffice during the lectures, as well as a few revisions undertaken in response to the insightful comments of several members of the audience. Professor Denys Turner was a gracious and articulate host on behalf of the Department of Theology from beginning to end, setting the tone of respectful though not uncritical attention that characterized my reception in Birmingham. Other members of the department whose hospitality I recall with appreciation include Martin Stringer, Isabel Wollaston, and J. K. Parratt. To Gareth Jones, though no longer a member of the Birmingham department, I owe a special debt of gratitude; for without his initiative and imagination the lectures would never have taken place. He also left behind him a coterie of eager postgraduate students, whose presence – right in the center of the audience at every lecture – helped to keep me focused.

Some of the materials comprising this book have appeared in earlier versions in previous publications, whose editors have kindly granted permission to reprint. Portions of several chapters had their origin in 1995, when I was . . .

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