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What Would Jesus Deconstruct?: The Good News of Postmodernism for the Church (The Church and Postmodern Culture) Paperback – November 1, 2007
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From the Back Cover
"Caputo brilliantly manages to bring thought to life and life to thought. He wears his learning and scholarship so lightly that one has the impression of returning to a flesh-and-blood world where Jesus deconstructs and reconstructs our lives. Challenging, compassionate, witty, and wise. This book is compulsory reading for anyone concerned about the future of Christianity."
--Richard Kearney, Charles Seelig Professor in Philosophy, Boston College
"Let this book settle the debate once and for all: postmodern philosophy does not preclude true Christian faith. In fact, taken rightly, postmodernism leads not to nihilistic relativism but to a robust faith in the Savior, who himself was bent on deconstruction. Caputo is a sheep in wolf's clothing."
--Tony Jones, national coordinator of Emergent Village, author of The New Christians: Dispatches from the Emergent Frontier
"This is a marvelous little book. It enables readers to understand deconstruction as the hermeneutics of the kingdom of God and provides a glimpse of what this concept might look like in the hands of Jesus as applied to the church. This will be difficult therapy, and many of us will be inclined to resist. However, let us remember that while discipline is painful in the moment, it produces a harvest of peace and righteousness in the long run. May the church learn from the wisdom found in these pages."
--John R. Franke, professor of missional theology, Yellowstone Theological Institute
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Top Customer Reviews
The wonderful thing for me about this text is that Caputo did a great job selecting the ideas and themes from Derrida that can be used as a lens through which to read scripture and address Christian faith. These ideas open up a variety of potentials, and energies that just don't have the same resonance when examined without the tools that post structuralism generally, and Derrida specifically provide us. Some of these themes include the journey, the unavoidable nature of impasses; the idea that the moment when we are faced with the impossible is the exact moment when real potentials are opened. He also addresses Derrida's unique understanding of justice, the economy of the gift and hospitality, to name a few.
What makes Caputo's summary of Derrida useful is that it directs our attention to the structure of how themes such as love, or loving God, or one's neighbor (as only one of many potential examples) are articulated in scripture but also the significant pragmatic and philosophical challenges posed by such themes, their aporias, and the difficulties we face when we are willing to take this kind of challenge seriously. This is important work and frankly it strikes me that Christianity in America today is often dead set against doing this kind of work.Read more ›
Caputo writes very much from his personal opinion and I enjoyed many of his amusing asides. He talks incisively about many of the failings of the religious Right, although also has things to say about the weakness and ineptness of the Left. I felt that the book was rather weighed down by its series preface/foreword/acknowledgements/introduction before it began, and that the real meat of the content didn't appear until fairly late on in the short book at chapter 5. That chapter was a brilliant read, however, deconstructing the church through the lens of the Sermon on the Mount, and was worth the price of the book alone.
This is an excellent read for those interested in a different angle in the postmodern debate and explains enough that those unfamiliar with deconstruction should understand it.
Caputo writes like his mentor and model, Derrida. Full of -isms, weird sentences, twists and turns, aphorisms, puns, etc. WWJD follows suit but in much less intensive manner. And, yes, even a newbie to postmodernism would enjoy the book, if one gives it a fair presentation.
Caputo puts forth deconstruction at the method/approach of the hermeneutics of the kingdom of God, a tool of God's theo-poetic reign. This is a way of treating the interpretation of Scripture as a fresh/new kind of 'poetry', where language takes on a life of its own and resists our rigid categories, presuppositions and the overall human desire to draw absolute conclusions. Deconstruction is God's way of hermeneutically breaking-in into our world and its prejudices, fossilisation and comfort zones. This shakes the faith, laughs at our certainties and mocks our pride - and in so doing seeks to return faith back to faith.
Caputo then takes nice humourous shots at the Bush administration and many not-so-nice ones at the 'Christian Right' of USA. He then gives his take on abortion, homosexuality, poverty and some other politically hot (American)issues. The central thrust of Caputo's form of deconstruction (which is a much more fun and vibrant kind, much more than, say, the deconstruction of Mark C. Taylor whose works usually stem from the 'death of God') is the event, the advent, of the Other.Read more ›
"Caputo's other books have been light in a dark place, and this series of books looks promising. But this particular volume strikes me as poorly written and poorly reasoned, surprising for Caputo. He rails against an undefined "religious Right" in a way that Brian McLaren, in the preface, describes as "hospitable" but which I can only describe as straw-man hostility. He takes Derrida to have something to say about religion, which is fair enough and true, I think. But he never here makes the case for why we should listen to Derrida, or why Deconstruction is a desirable Biblical hermeneutic. In the end, he has very little to offer other than his opinion. I say this as one who usually finds his opinions interesting and his philosophy worth reading. This time, however, I think Caputo writes sloppily. He either does a disservice to the views he espouses, or else exposes them as largely empty of _theological_ content. When he talks about the key themes in Derrida's work, he's lucid; when he talks about what they mean for us, his wordplay seems to mask a lack of argument. This is unfortunate."
The review above is superb and right on target. I read this work because I do believe that deconstruction can be appropriated in useful ways by Christians. When Caputo is explaining what deconstruction is and it's concerns, the work is insightful and helpful. The 2nd half of the work is nearly useless (at least to me).Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
As a relatively new student of postmodern philosophy, and as someone who is currently falling off the cliff of rightwing evangelicalism, this book found me at a perfect time. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Josiah Solis
A very thought-provoking piece that requires us all to examine how we live our Faith. I bought this as a second text for a Philosophy class, and it dovetails nicely with... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Travis Mecum
I like Caputo's take on deconstruction as hermeneutics for the kingdom of God. However,I wondered when he asked what would Jesus deconstruct if he actually deconstructed his own... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Kindle Customer
I will attempt to make it short and clear not going into the particulars of the book, but given an overall overview of it. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Luis A. R. Branco
At first I was irritated with Caputo. I have not read Derrida, or even much about his work. I wanted Caputo to introduce me to deconstruction, to tell me what it was, give me some... Read morePublished on October 28, 2013 by J. Arnold
I both loved and hated this book. It makes you think... hard! Tough stuff that we all need to read.Published on August 12, 2013 by Ben J. Welch III
I am a young pastor/student whom finds passion and interest with the Postmodern movement and the emergent church. Read morePublished on May 28, 2012 by Clay Walden
I posted a pretty lengthy review of this book on my blog, but here's a little preview:
In What Would Jesus Deconstruct? Read more
After listening to John D Caputo's interview by Luke Mulenhauser on commonsenseatheism.com I decided to get John's book, What Would Jesus Deconstruct, and see what sort of case he... Read morePublished on April 10, 2011 by Wesley Widner