Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
BBR 19:1 (2009) p. 95
Jeannine K. Brown. Scripture as Communication: Introducing Biblical Hermeneutics. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2007. Pp. 315. ISBN 978–0-8010–2788- 8. $21.99 paper.
Jeannine Brown proffers here a textbook that keeps in mind the three factors in interpretation: author, text, and reader. In the history of interpretation, keeping each of these in mind has proved difficult, as various movements typically have focused on one to the relative neglect of the other two. Several recent trends in biblical scholarship have been at work to emphasize theological readings of Scripture and to view Scripture as communication from God, not merely a lifeless object available for observation and investigation. While these trends have been greatly encouraging for those who bristle at the bifurcation of biblical and theological disciplines, it is not an easy thing to understand how to teach more fruitful and life-giving approaches in theological schools or undergraduate classes in Bible study methods. The ongoing scholarly discussion of theory is not necessarily reflected in the publication of practical guides or teaching tools. Brown’s volume will go a long way in filling this void, as it is a very well-put-together and clearly written work that will prove a gold mine for teachers and pastors. It may also be used with great profit as a textbook for students since Brown writes as a seasoned and skilled teacher.
The book is divided into two parts, covering first theoretical and then practical aspects of interpretation. Brown very obviously benefits from the range of recent reflection on the nature of Scripture as a communicative text, and she wisely avoids tying her work to any single theoretician. She draws on the work of Kevin Vanhoozer, Nicholas Wolterstorff, and Trevor Hart, though a variety of other writers are brought into the conversation as well. Brown sets forth a communicative model of interpretation, which she regards as follows: “Scripture’s meaning can be understood as the communicative act of the author that has been inscribed in the text and addressed to the intended audience for purposes of engagement” (p. 14). Many will find Brown’s chapter on the nature of meaning especially helpful. Here, she demonstrates how meaning is both dynamic and determinate—it is determined by the intentionality of the author, though it is only and always grasped by fallen readers who just might get it wrong or may not understand precisely what the author intended for original readers. The first half of this work is more or less a comprehensive jet tour of hermeneutical theory for undergraduates in biblical studies or for an introductory course for seminary students.
Brown then moves to more practical matters in the second half of this volume, and she does well not merel...
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