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Theories of Culture: A New Agenda for Theology (Guides to Theological Inquiry) Paperback – October 1, 1997


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 212 pages
  • Publisher: Fortress Press (October 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0800630971
  • ISBN-13: 978-0800630973
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #562,489 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Michael J. Pahls on May 12, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Dr. Kathryn Tanner has provided theologians and students with an excellent introduction to the postmodern study of culture as it intersects with the task of theology.
She begins her work with an overview of recent trends in cultural theory tracing the history of the modern, and then the postmodern, concept of "culture". After tracing the paths by which the French, German, British conceptions of "culture" and "the cultured" evolved into the modern (i.e. Enlightenment) anthropological notion of culture as a "group-differentiating, holistic, nonevaluative, and context-relative notion" (p.24),
Tanner argues to the contrary that cultures do not exist as internally consistent wholes, rooted in the consensus of their constituencies. Neither can culture become a principle for the ordering of a society if beliefs and values are part and parcel of what is at stake in disagreements over social order. According to her, cultures are not stable in any sense, but operate according to quite fluid conventions, with varying interpretations of loosely connected and logically incompatible elements and no sharply-bounded or self-contained units. For Tanner, it seems that one never steps into the same cultural river even once.
Having justly chastened modernist cultural studies, Tanner attempts their postmodern reconstruction in a project that privileges complexity over order and engagement over agreement. Tanner's postmodern presentation of cultural study consummates the modernist critique of ethnocentricism by demonstrating that the anthropologist's own complex and diverse culture is subject to the same deconstruction as the culture under investigation.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Tedd Steele on January 2, 2005
Format: Paperback
In this book, Tanner sets out to understand developments in cultural theory and apply them to theology. During the modern period, culture was seen as tightly bounded and defined by consensus. Postmodern theory has seen culture as permeable and malleable. It is impacted by other cultures and is affected by internal argument. From there she reasons that theology operates within a Christian culture, a culture that is loosely bordered. Christian culture is not isolated from other cultures. To the contrary, it is affected greatly by them. It is defined not by tradition or continuity of belief, but by ongoing argument. The Christian culture is in an extended argument concerning what it means to be a disciple of the Word of God.

Tanner presents her arguments well. The book progresses steadily from cultural theory to suggestions for theological method. She ends with a theory of Christian culture that allows for much disagreement and creativity. Her thoughts are well reasoned and thoroughly argued. Buy this book if you want to understand the role of theology in the Christian culture.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful By JacksonB on September 23, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Some of Tanner's thoughts on the impact of culture on the church are indeed groundbreaking, but her writing style is far too wordy. Tanner could easily eliminate 50% of the book if she wrote (and apparently thought) in a more economical manner.
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