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The Eclipse of Biblical Narrative: A Study in Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Hermeneutics Paperback – September 10, 1980

ISBN-13: 978-0300026023 ISBN-10: 0300026021 Edition: New edition

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; New edition edition (September 10, 1980)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300026021
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300026023
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #221,421 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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101 of 103 people found the following review helpful By Richard Young on April 24, 2000
Format: Paperback
Hans Frei argues that questioning the historicity of the biblical documents in the modern era has led to the loss of the integrity of the narrative structure. This has shifted meaning from the patterns and structure of the narrative itself to external reference. Frei argues that this takes two forms. Those who argued for the historicity of the documents found meaning in the historical events themselves, while those who denied the historicity found meaning in the symbolic ideas or concepts that supposedly lie behind the myths. Both locate meaning outside the text. In response, Frei contends that Scripture is a realistic narrative (i.e., history-like). A realistic narrative firmly sets its characters and actions within the context of their historical and social context. Even the miraculous episodes are realistic if they help render a particular character or story. The history-like realism draws us into the story with the result that the story shapes our lives. The power of narrative is lost when meaning is located outside the narrative: in ideals, doctrines, or historical facts. This is a must read for anyone interested in narrative theology. It is the classic text in the field, from which all other works owe their inspiration.
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By Jacob on June 8, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Frei investigates the breakdown between story and reality, realistic and figural interpretation. His Yale post-liberal presuppositions aid his analysing German liberalism. They do not help him construct a coherent alternative.

A realistic interpretation is a strict correspondence between word and reality. There can only be one meaning: that of the author. This is problematic when one approaches biblical prophecy: were the prophets’ intended meanings the same as that of the New Testament readers? At this point the realistic paradigm breaks down.

A figural reading is close to Reformed typology: the narrated sequence contains its own meaning (Frei 28). While Frei doesn’t draw the explicit conclusion, if typology is true, then one must have a narratival epistemology. One will note this is standard Protestant--especially Reformed covenantal--hermeneutics. So what happened in history, especially in Germany? The blossoming liberal schools quite correctly saw that if typology is true, then the bible has a coherent unity. If the bible has a coherent unity, then it forces a narratival epistemology. If that is true, then dualisms of a Platonic or Kantian sort are ruled out.

“What if Plato were a German Liberal?”

The development of hermeneutics didn’t take place in a vacuum. Scholars were interacting with contemporary philosophical shfits. The liberal schools would not accept a realistic hermeneutics because it was obvious (for them) that miracles and resurrection were not part of “reality.” They could not accept a typological reading because typology is at war with internalized, spiritual pious gush.

Lessons to be learned: A Conclusion of sorts

It’s not clear if Frei himself avoids all of the criticisms of liberal theology.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Frederick G. Widdowson on August 25, 2013
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Frei writes in a very obtuse manner. His sentences are nothing short of clunky. Still, if you read slow and carefully enough you can learn a great deal about the subject.
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