The Fall of Interpretation: Philosophical Foundations for a Creational Hermeneutic

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InterVarsity Press, Jan 1, 2000 - Philosophy - 228 pages
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. Traditional evangelicals Rex Koivisto and Richard Lints represent a present immediacy model. Wolfhart Pannenberg, Hans-Georg Gadamer and Jargen Habermas represent an eschatological immediacy model. And Martin Heidegger and Jacques Derrida represent a violent mediation model.

Questioning the foundational assumption that these secular and religious theories 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 creation: the result is an understanding of the status of interpretation as a 'creational task, ' a task which is constitutive of fortitude and thus not a 'labor' to be escaped or overcome. Such an 'interpretation ofinterpretation' revalues embodiment and ultimately ends in a ethical respect for difference as the gift of a creating God who loves difference and loves differently".



On the Categories Creation and Fall
On InterpretationTranslation
Gadamer and Habermas
The Fallenness of the Everyday
Heideggers Faith
Edenic Violence
Toward a Creational Hermeneutic
Toward a Creational Hermeneutic
The Ethics of Interpretation

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About the author (2000)

James K. A. Smith is assistant professor of philosophy at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California.

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