Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
SBJT 21:1 (Spring 2017) p. 167
Spirit Hermeneutics: Reading Scripture in Light of Pentecost. By Craig S. Keener. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2016. xxviii + 522pp., $48.00 Hardback.
Craig S. Keener, known best for his New Testament (NT) exegetical commentaries, turns his attention in Spirit Hermeneutics to how Spirit-filled Christians should interpret the Bible today. Keener earned his Ph.D. from Duke University (1991) and is the F. M. and Ada Thompson Professor of Biblical Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore, Kentucky. Originally intended to be part of the Pentecostal Manifestos series, Spirit Hermeneutics outgrew its original length-limit and thus has been published as a stand-alone work. In this book Keener argues that a Christian reading ought to be experiential, eschatological, and missional, operating with a Spirit-directed epistemology, modelled after the Spirit-led readings exemplified by the NT authors.
The first part of the book advocates a reading strategy that is experiential and missional. The authors of Scripture intended their readers to apply their message to their own setting/experience (14). This reality is not limited merely to didactic literature, but narrative is also meant to teach its readers—we cannot arbitrarily deem something “descriptive” to render it non-applicatory. For example, Keener notes that Paul drew upon narratives for his doctrine of faith, and James used Job as an example for suffering and Elijah as an example for prayer (23). Experience, though, does not have priority over Scripture, but rather Christian experiences should be understood in light of analogies within Scripture (26-27).
As Christian readers of Scripture, we read as those “in the last days” and so in salvation-historical continuity with the NT Christians (51). The Spirit was specifically given in those days for mission, and so, for this same reason, the Spirit is still given today, for “Scripture does not prescribe a period of spiritual inactivity” (51).
Part two argues for the need to listen to global readings. Interestingly, Pentecost—the reversal of Babel—did not reverse the multiplicity of languages, it merely aided in understanding the diversity (60). In seeking to
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understand this diversity, however, Keener argues that priority must be given to listening to the text of Scripture (69). In other words, greater effort should be given to understanding the “context” of Scripture than has been given to understanding contextual readings of the global church. What Scripture shows us, however, is that it re-contextualized the message of earlier Scripture for its readers (e.g., Revelation “updates” the OT; 75). Thus, bibl...
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