The Fall of the Interpretation: Philosophical Foundations for a Creational Hermeneutic

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9780830815746: The Fall of the Interpretation: Philosophical Foundations for a Creational Hermeneutic

Many philosophers of the past century have focused on the problem of hermeneutics. Theologians have shared this concern because of their interest in interpreting biblical texts. As postmodern critics have challenged the possibility of understanding any texts, the issue of how to respond has become acute.Among myriad approaches to hermeneutics, both secular and Christian theorists have often assumed the same thing: that the need for interpretation is a lamentable, scandalous, even fallen affair. In an ideal world there would be no need for interpretation, since communication would be immediate, instantaneous and errorless.James K. A. Smith, in this provocative book, cogently surveys contemporary hermeneutical discussion, identifying three traditions and how they understand interpretation: a present immediacy model, an eschatological immediacy model and a violent mediation model.Questioning the foundational assumption that these models share, Smith deftly draws on and reworks Augustine's biblical understanding of the goodness of creation to propose a creational-pneumatic model of hermeneutics. In his words, such a hermeneutic "would link [Augustine's] insights on the temporality of human be-ing and language with his affirmation of the fundamental goodness of creation: the result is an understanding of the status of interpretation as a 'creational task,' a task which is constitutive of finitude and thus not a 'labor' to be escaped or overcome. Such an 'interpretation of interpretation' revalues embodiment and ultimately ends in a ethical respect for difference as the gift of a creating God who loves difference and loves differently."

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About the Author:

James K. A. Smith is assistant professor of philosophy at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California. He is also editor of In the Twilight of Western Thought in the Collected Works of Herman Dooyeweerd and numerous articles on philosophy and religion.

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