What Is New Testament Theology?

By Dan O. Via | Go to book overview

6
New Testament Theology
as Hermeneutical:
Postmodernism

Modernism and Postmodernism

In order to understand and assess the fact that a number of biblical theologians have bought heavily into postmodernism, we need to take account of the (alleged) shift from modernism to postmodernism. Modernism may be thought to have begun at some time during the Renaissance and then to have become the dominant way of thinking in Europe in the seventeenth century (Reiss 1982:13, 21, 31).

Modernism has been characterized by a rejection of tradition and the authority of the past, a rejection of permanence and transcendent ideals, in favor of novelty, change, and progress (Calinescu 1987:3, 23, 27, 95). The dominating thrust of modernism was to employ reason in order to gain a truly objective knowledge of the real order of the things of the world (Calinescu 1987:27; Reiss 1982:22–23). The purpose of this objective explanation of the world is to enable us to conquer, dominate, and possess it (Reiss 1982:21). The means for achieving this knowledge according to Timothy J. Reiss is a kind of analysis that assumes a fixed, knowable external world that is prior to and separate from the discourse with which we describe it. But language, rational thought, and the order of the world are intervolved with one another. A properly syntactical sentence provides the appropriate rational concepts to refer adequately to the true objective nature of the world (Reiss 1982:21, 23, 29–31, 37, 41). According to Reiss, from the beginning of modernism to the present, this understanding of reality has been the single dominant structure and necessary form

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