The Bible and the Crisis of Meaning

Debates on the Theological Interpretation of Scripture Christopher Spinks. a Meaning? is structured in two halves of three parts each. The first half describes the metaphysical, epistemological and ethical crises of textual ...

Author: Christopher Spinks

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing

ISBN: 9780567185396

Category: Religion

Page: 224

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Many of the most pressing issues in theology and the church today depend greatly on the understanding of the bible. Recent debates on the theological interpretation of scripture have emerged which consider whether the meaning of scripture should concern theologians and church leaders at all. The Bible and the Crisis of Meaning is an account of these debates in examining the concept of meaning in current proposals of theological interpretation. The concept of meaning is educed either from the supposed nature of the texts and their authors or from the function of the texts in religious communities. Thus, approaches to theological interpretation become debates between ontological and pragmatic strategists. Stephen Fowl and Kevin Vanhoozer have embraced the term "theological interpretation" for their separate projects, but their ideas of what this means and how "meaning" is a part of it, differ greatly. Christopher Spinks describes their respective concepts of meaning and argues for a more holistic concept that allows theological interpreters to understand their craft not so much as a discovery of intentions or the creation of interests but as a conversation in which truth is mediated.
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The Bible and the Crisis of Meaning

The concept of meaning is educed either from the supposed nature of the texts and their authors or from the function of the texts in religious communities.

Author: Christopher Spinks

Publisher: T&T Clark

ISBN: STANFORD:36105123323300

Category: Religion

Page: 201

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The book presents an account of the recent debates on the theological interpretation of scripture, which considers whether the meaning of scripture should concern theologians and church leaders at all.
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International Review of Biblical Studies Internationale Zeitschriftenschau Fur Bibelwissenschaft Und Grenzgebiete

The first group of texts, the comparison of warriors in crisis with women giving birth, entails the idea of the threshold ... AND LIFE OF CHURCH Theology: general themes 1918 D. Christopher Spinks, The Bible and the Crisis of Meaning: ...

Author: Bernhard Lang

Publisher: BRILL

ISBN: 9789004172548

Category: Religion

Page: 556

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Formerly known by its subtitle Internationale Zeitschriftenschau für Bibelwissenschaft und Grenzgebiete, the International Review of Biblical Studies has served the scholarly community ever since its inception in the early 1950’s. Each annual volume includes approximately 2,000 abstracts and summaries of articles and books that deal with the Bible and related literature, including the Dead Sea Scrolls, Pseudepigrapha, Non-canonical gospels, and ancient Near Eastern writings. The abstracts – which may be in English, German, or French - are arranged thematically under headings such as e.g. Genesis, Matthew, Greek language, text and textual criticism, exegetical methods and approaches, biblical theology, social and religious institutions, biblical personalities, history of Israel and early Judaism, and so on. The articles and books that are abstracted and reviewed are collected annually by an international team of collaborators from over 300 of the most important periodicals and book series in the fields covered.
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A Theology of Literature

The previous way of reading the Bible as literature, in spite of the good Book's self-attributed status as ... it has produced for religious institutions can be garnered from Christopher Spinks, The Bible and the Crisis of Meaning.

Author: William Franke

Publisher: Wipf and Stock Publishers

ISBN: 9781532611025

Category: Literary Criticism

Page: 112

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With the tools of far-reaching revolutions in literary theory and informed by the poetic sense of truth, William Franke offers a critical appreciation and philosophical reflection on a way of reading the Bible as theological revelation. Franke explores some of the principal literary genres of the Bible—Myth, Epic History, Prophecy, Apocalyptic, Writings, and Gospel—as building upon one another in composing a compactly unified edifice of writing that discloses prophetic and apocalyptic truth in a sense that is intelligible to the secular mind as well as to religious spirits. From Genesis to Gospel this revealed truth of the Bible is discovered as a universal heritage of humankind. Poetic literature becomes the light of revelation for a theology that is discerned as already inherent in humanity’s tradition. The divine speaks directly to the human heart by means of infinitely open poetic powers of expression in words exceeding and released from the control of finite, human faculties and the authority of human institutions. CHRIS BENDA: The main title of your book, A Theology of Literature, is rather expansive in scope - it's the title of a manifesto - while the subtitle, The Bible as Revelation in the Tradition of the Humanities, narrows the focus to a particular text. This title seems to adumbrate your conception of the relationship between literature and the Bible. What is that relationship? WILLIAM FRANKE: Picking up on your suggestions, I would say that the book is a manifesto for literature as a revelation of the highest sort of truth of which the human heart and intellect are capable, and at the same time a manifesto for theology as the source and core of traditions of human knowledge. The Bible is taken as an outstanding example of both types of discourse, literature and theology, in some of their most marvelous and miraculous revelatory capacities. CB: In the introduction to your book, you ask, "What is a theological reading of the Bible, and what is a literary reading?" This question suggests different methods, different purposes, different outcomes. But you put forward another way of thinking about the relationship between the theological and the literary. What is that way? WF: The usual idea of the "Bible as literature" is that one can read the Bible just as good literature without presupposing any kind of religious belief. This makes it palatable to many who would otherwise not be interested. My approach, likewise, is to read the Bible for all that it is worth as literature, but I find precisely there the Bible's most challenging and authentic theology. Understanding literature in its furthest purport requires a kind of belief in language and the word. It entails a hopeful, loving, and faithful sort of understanding of what is said, and that already constitutes the rudiments of a theology. This is to take the Bible as an especially revealing example of a humanities text. The greatest of these texts generally contain an at least implicitly theological (or sometimes a/theological) dimension to the extent that they envision the final purpose of life and the meaning of the world as a whole. Whether or not they speak of "God," such texts are in a theological register wherever the unity and origin of existence are in question. Personalizing this origin as "God" is one interpretation that remains inevitable and imaginatively compelling for us, since we are persons. CB: You are not reading the Bible as literature in the same way that many others have been doing over the last several decades (even though Robert Alter, one of the foremost practitioners of that art, appears frequently in the pages of your book). Which aspects of the "Bible as literature" approach are, in your view, problematic, at least for your project, and which do you find of continuing value? WF: The tendency to reduce the Bible to mere literature is the approach that I wish to eschew. I emphasize that the Bible is truly revelatory as literature. This enables us to understand theological revelation, too, in a non-dogmatic sense, as having a much more general human validity. Appreciating the literary qualities and excellence of the Bible remains as crucial to my project as to the traditional approach. However, I stress that these literary features are not merely aesthetic effects or ornaments. They can be revelatory of the real. The ultimately real and true, which exceeds objectification and its inevitable oppositions, cannot be apprehended except through the imagination. CB: When you speak of the Bible as revelation, what do you mean? WF: I mean especially that it enables uncanny insight into the nature of reality as a whole and in its deepest core. Revelation conveys an infinite intelligence of life and of everything that concerns us as humans. I recognize knowledge as "revealed" to the extent that it rises beyond ordinary limits to a degree of knowing that somehow fathoms the whole or total or infinite. This means for many that revelation comes from God. But even before presupposing that we know anything about God, we can simply let revelation emerge from this extraordinary capacity of the mind to transcend itself toward what it cannot comprehend. In certain encounters with others, we can experience an infinite depth of love and life that boggles the mind and exceeds comprehension. It can transform our lives. Theological revelation is a compelling interpretation, handed down over generations in the human community, of this register of experience. CB: You seem to make a distinction between revelation and theological revelation. What is that distinction, and what import does it have for your argument? WF: No, I would rather emphasize the continuity between theological revelation and revelation in a more general, phenomenological sense of things simply coming to be known or openly "disclosed." This is important for keeping theology connected with the rest of human knowledge, although human knowledge itself, all along, has also harbored something that transcends it and all its finite means. I say "all along" because this problematic of the self-transcendence of knowledge towards an extra-worldly Other can be traced to the Axial Age in the middle of the first millennium BCE. Of course, a relationship with the Other who reveals himself or herself or itself as God belongs to the full sense of theological revelation as understood in biblical tradition. I consider this as a degree of revelation of our relationship with others envisaged in its absoluteness. CB: What do you mean when you talk about the "poetic potential" of language? Does all language have such potential, even what we might not typically think of as poetic - or even literary? WF: Language has infinite potential for meaning, and poetic language shows and exploits this potential most intensively. Language can be thought of as beginning with one word like "OM" that means everything all at once. By a process of disambiguation, more limited and specific meanings are differentiated from each other and assigned to different words. However, poetic language reverses this process and allows us to hear the multiple meanings buried in our metaphors and to divine the original unity of meaning in language behind the rationally differentiated senses of words in the language that we pragmatically employ, yet with loss of its potential wholeness of meaning. CB: Your book is concerned with the Bible as a humanities text. What is a humanities text and what does a humanities text do? Might we think of any text as having the potential to be a humanities text, as long as it is read "humanistically"? WF: Yes. Being a humanities text is a matter of how a text is read. But certain texts lend themselves more than others to touching on matters of deep and perennial human concern: life and death and love and war, greed and heroism, suffering and hope for liberation, redemption, etc. CB: You state that, prior to modernity, texts, including the Bible, "exercise[d] sovereign authority in determining [their] own meaning and in interrogating the reader and potentially challenging the reader's insight and very integrity." In secular modernity, by contrast, "texts taken as specimens for analysis are dissected according to the will and criteria of a knowing subject considered to be wholly external to them." What implications have modern, secular readings of the Bible, and of literature more generally, had for human knowledge and, indeed, for human existence; and how does our present time - what you call "the 'post-secular' turn of postmodern culture" - change how we relate to the Bible and literature? WF: The modern, secular era is the era of the individual knowing subject. The self-conscious human subject becomes the ground and foundation of all knowing, emblematically with Descartes's "I think therefore I am" as the inaugural proposition of modern philosophy. Hegel construed the history of philosophy this way. Texts become artifacts created by finite human subjects. Prior to this modern era and its constitutive Narcissism, the creation of the text was a much more open affair. It was not under the control of a unitary finite subject, the author. Human authors could be channels for revelations from beyond their own ken. Readers could explore texts for revelations from a higher authority than just the author's own intention. Augustine's reading the Bible as meaning infinitely more than its presumable human authors, starting with Moses, were able to comprehend is a good example (Confessions, Book X-XIII). CB: You quote John 1:14 ("The Word became flesh and dwelt among us") and claim that this statement "announces a general interpretive principle: the meaning of tradition is experienced only in its application to life in the present." Could you unpack that a bit? WF: Meaning in literature and life is much more than just an intellectual sense or dictionary definition. How words mean for us is rooted in our way of existing in the world. They have to take on our own flesh and dwell in and with us in order to realize their full potential to signify. This fact is conveyed poetically by the doctrine of the Incarnation that is clairvoyantly and beautifully expressed in the Gospel of John. CB: A Theology of Literature largely consists of explorations of the revelatory aspects of varying literary genres in the Bible. You look at mythology, epic, history, prophecy, apocalyptic, literature, poetry, and gospel. In the conclusion of your book, you suggest that "[a]ll of these genres, in some manner, are summed up and recapitulated in the Gospel." This is convenient, since we can't discuss each of these genres in depth. How, in brief, does the Gospel provide such a summation and recapitulation? WF: The gospel is a prophetic word in which the archetypal myth of Genesis and the epic history of Exodus and the words of the prophets are fulfilled by the apocalyptic event of Christ as Savior. It contains the life history of the Redeemer and includes many of his own sayings uttered with all their poetry ("Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin," etc.). It brings all these various forms and genres of revelation to a culmination in a word that exceeds all genres, not least history, in order to recast the mold of meaning and the very meaning of "truth." Its truth is made in being enacted and incorporated by those who believe in it and live it. In the terms of I John 1: 6, these are those who would "do the truth." CB: Your book is able to cover significant portions of the Bible despite its brevity, but of course it can't cover everything. The legal materials are one type of literature that doesn't get extended treatment, so I'm curious how you might understand them as revelatory texts within the tradition of the humanities. WF: The legal materials fundamentally express a relationship with God. They enable Israel to live in fellowship with the Lord and as sanctified by his love. "O Lord how I love thy law!" (Psalm 119: 97) exclaims the psalmist. The legal prescriptions in the Bible reveal God and the way to God in very particular circumstances and social conditions. But the relationship with God that they model is potentially valid in all times and places for those who wish to embrace the law as a gift for living in intimacy with the Almighty. CB: What dangers might accompany the recovery of texts as authoritative sources of truth in our post-secular, postmodern age? How might those dangers, should they exist, be avoided or met? WF: The authority of texts read in the perspective of a theology of literature never exempts the readers from responsibility for the implications and consequences that they draw from the text. The authoritativeness of the infinite potential for meaning that is inherent in these texts is in a dimension of depth that underlies all meanings and all being and all creatures. It does not valorize some over others. These determinations are always made by human beings, and they alone bear the responsibility for their choices and acts. The power and authority of the text resides in its infinite potential before the emergence of any divisive distinctions and oppositions. This type of authority of the text does not absolve humans of responsibility. It rather reveals their infinite responsibility for whatever authority they claim or evoke. They give this authority a determinate shape and particular application that is all their own. They are answerable for whether or not their interpretation respects and protects all creatures and creation. Questions by Chris Benda, Divinity Librarian, Vanderbilt University
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Reading the Bible in an Age of Crisis

As noted, one of its primary features is the creation of a “universal system of non-meaning” (if I may gloss Worthington's formulation). Biblical studies' pursuit of meaning seems like a feature of modern bourgeois culture that global ...

Author: Bruce Worthington

Publisher: Augsburg Fortress Publishers

ISBN: 9781451482867

Category: Religion

Page: 363

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We live in an age in which economic, ecological, and political crises are not the exception, but the rule. The Cold War polarities that shaped an earlier "political exegesis" have been replaced; increasingly, crisis is the engine of a global "turbo-capitalism." Here, biblical scholars and activists describe and exemplify the shape of a biblical interpretation that takes contemporary crisis seriously. Succinct opening essays summarize the salient aspects of our critical situation; in later parts, contributions address themes of economic, political, and environmental crisis in dialogue with biblical texts.
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Union with Christ in the New Testament

Is not the biblical divine discourse, like most of its history of interpretation, inalienably engaged with the extratextual ... 14 Christopher D. Spinks, The Bible and the Crisis of Meaning: Debates on the Theological Interpretation of ...

Author: Grant Macaskill

Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISBN: 9780199684298

Category: Religion

Page: 353

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This book is a study of the union between God and those he has redeemed, as it is represented in the New Testament. In conversation with historical and systematic theology, it is argued that this union is consistently represented by the New Testament authors as centring on the idea of a covenant, with believers' experience of God specifically mediated by Jesus, the covenant Messiah. His mediation of divine presence is grounded in his own being, in the realdivinity and real humanity that theological traditions have affirmed, and is realised by the Holy Spirit, who unites believers to him in faith. His personal narrative of death and resurrection is understoodin relation to the covenant by which God's dealings with humanity are ordered. When united to him, believers are transformed, not just morally or socially, but also in the life of their minds.
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The Crisis of Caring

Author: Jerry Bridges

Publisher: Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing Company

ISBN: 087552110X

Category: Religion

Page: 190

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Jacques Ellul and the Bible

The postmodern, secularized and technological society at the time of Ellul's writing is also in the midst of a crisis of meaning, deeply analyzed by Ellul not only in the first part of this book, but also in all his sociological works ...

Author: Jacob Marques Rollison

Publisher: ISD LLC

ISBN: 9780227178065

Category: Religion

Page: 260

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The hermeneutic contribution of the French theologian and sociologist Jacques Ellul is given new prominence in this striking collection of essays, revealing him to be one of the twentieth century's most creative and insightful interpreters of the Bible. With a breadth of contributors ranging from established biblical scholars and theologians to pastoral practitioners, from top Ellul scholars to emerging voices - and including six first-time English translations of Ellul's own articles - this volume not only provides a detailed overview of Ellul's biblical approach but also constitutes a crucial moment in Ellul's theological reception. The essays gathered here represent a clear demonstration that the full potential of Ellul's theological interpretation of Scripture to rejuvenate and reconfigure contemporary biblical hermeneutics has yet to be seen.
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Barbarian Explorations of a Western Concept in Theory Literature and the Arts

In the ancient Greek translation of the Bible, the juridical meaning of crisis is complemented by a theological dimension. As God becomes the judge of his people, judgment is invested with the prospect of salvation but also with ...

Author: Markus Winkler

Publisher: Springer

ISBN: 9783476044853

Category: Literary Criticism

Page: 374

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This two-volume co-authored study explores the history of the concept ‘barbarism’ from the 18th century to the present and illuminates its foundational role in modern European and Western identity. It constitutes an original comparative, interdisciplinary exploration of the concept’s modern European and Western history, with emphasis on the role of literature in the concept’s shifting functions. The study contributes to a historically grounded understanding of this figure’s past and contemporary uses. It combines overviews with detailed analyses of representative works of literature, art, film, philosophy, political and cultural theory, in which “barbarism” figures prominently. Diese auf 2 Bände konzipierte komparatistische und interdisziplinäre Studie in englischer Sprache geht der Geschichte des Barbarenbegriffs vom 18. Jahrhundert bis zur Gegenwart nach. Seit der griechischen Antike spielen Bild und Begriff des Barbarischen eine eminente Rolle für das abendländische Selbstverständnis. Die Studie verbindet Epochenüberblicke mit der Analyse herausragender literarischer, philosophischer, politik- und kulturtheoretischer, aber auch bildkünstlerischer und kinematographischer Werke und legt einen besonderen Akzent auf den Beitrag ästhetischer Verfahren zur Aufdeckung der Herkunft und der Implikationen des Barbarenbegriffs.
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Making the Bible Belt

To understand the origins of the Bible Belt, then, it is necessary not only to understand clerics' specific new ... Crisis conferred gravity and meaning to the seemingly meaningless lives of religious leaders and devoted believers.

Author: Joseph L. Locke

Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISBN: 9780190216306

Category: History

Page: 336

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Making the Bible Belt upends notions of a longstanding, stable marriage between political religion and the American South. H.L. Mencken coined the term "the Bible Belt" in the 1920s to capture the peculiar alliance of religion and public life in the South, but the reality he described was only the closing chapter of a long historical process. Into the twentieth century, a robust anticlerical tradition still challenged religious forays into southern politics. Inside southern churches, an insular evangelical theology looked suspiciously on political meddling. Outside of the churches, a popular anticlericalism indicted activist ministers with breaching the boundaries of their proper spheres of influence, calling up historical memories of the Dark Ages and Puritan witch hunts. Through the politics of prohibition, and in the face of bitter resistance, a complex but shared commitment to expanding the power and scope of religion transformed southern evangelicals' inward-looking restraints into an aggressive, self-assertive, and unapologetic political activism. The decades-long religious crusade to close saloons and outlaw alcohol in the South absorbed the energies of southern churches and thrust religious leaders headlong into the political process--even as their forays into southern politics were challenged at every step. Early defeats impelled prohibitionist clergy to recast their campaign as a broader effort not merely to dry up the South, but to conquer anticlerical opposition and inject religion into public life. Clerical activists churned notions of history, race, gender, and religion into a powerful political movement and elevated ambitious leaders such as the pugnacious fundamentalist J. Frank Norris and Senator Morris Sheppard, the "Father of National Prohibition." Exploring the controversies surrounding the religious support of prohibition in Texas, Making the Bible Belt reconstructs the purposeful, decades-long campaign to politicize southern religion, hints at the historical origins of the religious right, and explores a compelling and transformative moment in American history.
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