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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly a Landmark, December 9, 2009
This review is from: Is There a Meaning in This Text?: The Bible, the Reader, and the Morality of Literary Knowledge (Landmarks in Christian Scholarship) (Paperback)
I can hardly think of a better book to merit republication in Zondervan's "Landmarks in Christian Scholarship" series than Is There a Meaning in This Text? by Kevin Vanhoozer. Interacting cautiously and critically with postmodern philosophy and literary theory, Vanhoozer courageously reasons for the resurrection of the author, the redemption of the text, and the reformation of the reader.

Is there any way of regaining authorial intention and therefore biblical authority in our postmodern milieu? Vanhoozer utilizes speech-act theory to show how every text is a result of communicative action in which an author intends to do something with his or her words. He demonstrates how we can approach Scripture with hermeneutical realism, knowing that the divine/human authors really did intend to communicate something through the particular words we have in our Bibles, and we are responsible to discover and respond to this meaning today.

But can we really access the meaning in the text, even Scripture? Vanhoozer argues that we can discover meaning through a thick description of everything the author was doing through this particular act of textual communication. To be responsible and respectful to the text, therefore, implies searching for the actual meaning of the text, not whatever meaning we care to project. This is hard work, however, and calls for a myriad of skills and virtues, which leads him to the reformation of the reader.

Honesty, openness, attention and obedience will lead us to realize and respond to the meaning that the author intended. To understand Scripture means to take the position of a servant, and to approach the difficult yet joyful task of interpretation with humility and conviction. If we do this, will we really find just one meaning? Vanhoozer's hermeneutical realism and a robust doctrine of the Spirit lead him to defend a Pentecostal plurality of meaning and significance. In other words, it takes a diversity of methods and reading in a diversity of contexts to approach the thick, unified meaning of Scripture. In addition, true meaning and significance will emerge through faithfulness to the text, fruitfulness in the lives of readers, forcefulness in edifying the community, and fittingness in embodying the meaning of Scripture.

It is almost impossible to summarize the content and significance of such a substantial work, but hopefully the recap above approximates the meaning in this important text. You may find the contents (locution) of the book obtuse at times, but what Vanhoozer does (illocution) in the book is astonishing, and its effect (perlocution) is far-reaching. If you are interested in hermeneutics and concerned to maintain the authority, meaning, and relevance of Scripture, Is There a Meaning in This Text? is an essential addition to your library!
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Sep 15, 2014 2:34:13 PM PDT
Coconut says:
Would you know what other books are in this "Landmarks of Christian Scholarship" series?
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