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Articles on language and biblical interpretation

After Pentecost
Craig Bartholomew, Colin Greene and Karl Möller (eds), After Pentecost: Language and Biblical Interpretation (Scripture & Hermeneutics Series, 2; Carlisle: Paternoster Press; Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2001)

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There is always some view of language built into biblical interpretation. If we are to read Scripture to hear God’s address it is vital that we attend to current debates about language and become critically conscious in this respect.

Craig Bartholomew

After Pentecost is the second volume from the Scripture and Hermeneutics Seminar. This annual gathering of Christian scholars from various disciplines was established in 1998 and aims to reassess the discipline of biblical studies from the foundations up and forge creative new ways for reopening the Bible in our cultures.

The Seminar was aware from the outset that any renewal of biblical interpretation would have to attend to the issue of language. In this rich and creative volume the importance of linguistic issues for biblical interpretation is analysed, the challenge of postmodernism is explored, and some of the most creative recent developments in philosophy and theology of language are assessed and updated for biblical interpretation.

The scholars who together have produced this remarkable volume – and the projected series of which this volume is a part – are prepared to deal patiently and honestly with the most elemental theological issues. The title, After Pentecost, alludes to the problem and prospect of language as the condition of theological truth, and the authors are fully conversant with the most important theoretical issues concerning language. They mobilize that vast learning for the tasks of exegesis and theological adjudication. This is a serious book, a genre in which there are few current representatives. The book will bear careful, patient study. It cannot be ‘read,’ but must be studied. The treatment of theological language as a theological issue offered here matches the gravity of the topic itself. Immense learning is mobilized in the service of serious critical reflection on behalf of the church as the church faces an entirely new situation with the demise of modernist rationality and its accompanying positivism.

Walter Brueggemann, Professor of Old Testament, Columbia Theological Seminary

This is an excellent collection on a topic for which interdisciplinary conversation between biblical scholars, theologians and philosophers is vital. These essays deserve to be widely read and to draw many more of us into that conversation.

Richard Bauckham, Professor of New Testament Studies, St Mary’s College, University of St Andrews

Central to the theological task is the question as to how human language functions and refers within the context of Christian revelation. This volume contains an impressive series of essays and responses by leading contemporary philosophers, theologians and biblical scholars brought together to consider the relationship between biblical, exegetical and theological discourse. Their work is characterised by a shared concern to articulate the manner in which God may and does speak in and through human speech. This significant contribution to the debate will prove invaluable to anyone committed to intellectual engagement with these key issues.

Alan Torrance, Professor of Systematic Theology, University of St Andrews

Contents

  1. From Speech Acts to Scripture Acts: The Covenant of Discourse and the Discourse of Covenant
    Kevin J. Vanhoozer
  2. Ricoeur, Speech-Act Theory, and the Gospels as History
    Dan R. Stiver
  3. The Promise of Speech-Act Theory for Biblical Interpretation
    Nicholas Wolterstorff
  4. How to Be a Postmodernist and Remain a Christian: A Response to Nicholas Wolterstorff
    Mary Hesse
  5. ‘Behind’ and ‘In Front of’ the Text: Language, Reference and Indeterminacy
    Anthony C. Thiselton
  6. A ‘Polite’ Response to Anthony Thiselton
    William Olhausen
  7. Before Babel and After Pentecost: Language, Literature and Biblical Interpretation
    Craig G. Bartholomew
  8. Language at the Frontiers of Language
    Gregory J. Laughery
  9. ‘Starting a Rockslide’ – Deconstructing History and Language via Christological Detonators
    Colin J. D. Greene
  10. Words of Power: Biblical Language and Literary Criticism with Reference to Stephen Prickett’s Words and the Word and Mark 1:21-28
    Stephen I. Wright
  11. Reviving the Power of Biblical Language: The Bible, Literature and Literary Language
    Brian D. Ingraffia and Todd E. Pickett
  12. Naming the Father: The Teaching Authority of Jesus and Contemporary Debate
    David L. Jeffrey
  13. Back to Babel – That Confounded Language Again: A Response to David L. Jeffrey
    Kathryn Greene-McCreight
  14. On Bible Translation and Hermeneutics
    Raymond C. Van Leeuwen
  15. Illocutionary Stance in Hans Frei’s The Eclipse of Biblical Narrative: An Exercise in Conceptual Redescription and Normative Analysis
    Neil B. MacDonald
  16. Metaphor, Symbol and the Interpretation of Deuteronomy
    J. Gordon McConville
  17. Words of (In-)evitable Certitude? Reflections on the Interpretation of Prophetic Oracles of Judgement
    Karl Möller
  18. Metaphor and Exegesis
    Ian Paul

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