Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
TrinJ 17:2 (Fall 1996) p. 241
Anthony C. Thiselton. New Horizons in Hermeneutics. The Theory and Practice of Transforming Biblical Reading. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992. $29.99. 703 pp.
This is a massive work aimed at being an advanced hermeneutics textbook. “It includes a description and critical evaluation of all the major theoretical models and approaches which characterize current hermeneutical theory, or which have contributed to its present shape” (p. 1). Note when Thiselton says “all,” he means all! The whole gang is here, including Ludwig Wittgenstein, F. D. E. Schleiermacher, Roland Barthes, Jacques Derrida, Hans Georg Gadamer, Richard Rorty, Stanley Fish, Paul Ricoeur, Karl-Otto Apel, Jürgen Habermas, Wilhelm Dilthey, Werner Jeanrond, Wolfhart Pannenberg, Emilio Betti, J. L Austin, Wolfgang Iser, Umberto Eco, and a host of linguists, philosophers of language, literary critics, feminist critics, black critics, Marxist critics, liberation theology critics, and many, many others. Thiselton’s forty-one page bibliography is for real, with no padding, and this further evidences that he interacts with significant scholars in almost any field of significance to hermeneutics.
New Horizons is written with two distinct reading audiences in mind. “One includes all who undertake teaching, study, or research in the multidisciplinary area of hermeneutics. The other extends to Christians who are concerned about how the Bible is read and used” (p. 2). In other words Thiselton is aiming at specialists in biblical studies who need to master hermeneutics and Christian generalists who are serious about studying and applying the Bible. This sequel to his 1980 work on hermeneutics (The Two Horizons) is written with an eye toward how this affects the life of the church:
In particular, what effects biblical texts produce on thought and life, and especially on what basis these effects come about not only challenges our theological integrity but also constitutes a burning concern for all who have some interest in the nurture of faith and its communication in the modern world. (p. 2)
In other words, Thiselton is interested in what the Bible should produce in us when we read it and the hermeneutical validation of this impact. This should be a primary concern of all thinking Christians, although some background in hermeneutics, literary theory, or philosophy of language would prove to be most helpful. This is not a book for the intellectually faint-hearted. It is meaty and dense, but rewarding for the serious student.
Thiselton has structured the book in a logical flow that moves from initial observations to extended hermeneutics for the church over the course of sixteen chapters, plus an introductory chapter. ...
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