Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
TrinJ 25:2 (Fall 04) p. 247
Johnson T. K. Lim. Grace in the Midst of Judgment: Grappling with Genesis 1–11. BZAW 314. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2002. ix + 262 pp. $68.00.
This book is an edited version of Johnson T. K. Lim’s doctoral dissertation from the University of Queensland (Australia) which argues that a theological reading is not only a viable option but the preferred method of reading the Scriptures as it is commensurate with the claims of the Bible. Lim writes from an evangelical perspective, and he is critical of those readings of the text which do not take into account the theological dimensions of the biblical text.
The book breaks down into two conceptual halves. The first section, chs. 1–5, discusses the hermeneutical and methodological issues related to the study of the Scriptures in general and Genesis 1–11 in particular. In ch. 1, Lim situates his theory in the field of Pentateuchal studies. He claims that a weakness of the historical critical method is its atomistic approach to the text which ignores the rhetorical or theological intent of a given passage (p. 9). He also distances himself from those theories of interpretation that do not seek the theological intent of Scripture. Instead he argues that the reader should be captive to the “Author’s” intent of the text. By this Johnson means that the Bible is the “raw material” used to construct theology. Unfortunately, those hermeneutical approaches that engage in theological readings are not uniform. Some view the new literary approaches as useful while others find them problematic (p. 13).
Chapters 2 and 3 interact with current hermeneutical debates. Chapter 2 provides an overview. Lim summarizes discussions concerning the role of meta-narratives, ideology, cultural situatedness, and social environments in the interpretive task (pp. 23-24). Lim’s brief remarks in this chapter lead to a certain distortion of some positions. In ch. 3 he discusses the status of contemporary hermeneutical discussions. He notes the role of the reader’s situatedness. He asserts that one must acknowledge one’s biases when one approaches the text; however Lim disagrees with the skepticism that supposes that a reader cannot, nor should a reader desire to, ascertain the intent of the text which one is reading.
In ch. 4, the core of Lim’s argument, he argues for what he labels a theological reading of Scripture. Whereas the Bible may contain a multiplicity of themes and motifs, the central theme is the relationship between God and humanity. Lim further argues that at its core, the Bible is theological, i.e., its intent is to direct the reader towards the living God: “The Bible was meant to fun...
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