I myself wrote this book, but not by myself. In the background is a group of persons who offered various kinds of assistance without which it would never have been written, let alone published. This assistance included encouragement; a sounding board for ideas; reactions to various drafts and, sometimes, hard questions; suggestions for revisions; and so forth. Prior to any others, I thank Connie Loos for encouraging me even to consider this project and for being present to it throughout by reading and giving advice. But there are others I wish publicly to name, acknowledging and offering thanks for their help.
In the first place is Jim Reese, a colleague in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at St. John's, who read and carefully commented on anything I asked him to review. He read the earliest draft of this work, three incomplete chapters needing a clear focus; drawing on his fine background in semiotics, he marked almost every page with suggestions and questions. If he had not encouraged me to continue at that point, I would probably have given up. This book, whose completion he did not live to see, is for him.
Also at an early stage, Paul Medici, dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, encouraged me to apply for a special course reduction in the spring semester of 1988, which allowed me to spend several months focused on writing. Another person who read the earliest version was Dwayne Huebner of Yale Divinity School, who basically said, "Keep going."
Gregory Baum's extensive response in April 1989 to the chapters I had sent him was the most astute I have received, and it set me to revising previous work and adding another chapter. About the same time, Maurice