Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
TRINJ 30:1 (Spring 2009) p. 133
Graeme Goldsworthy. Gospel-Centered Hermeneutics: Foundations and Principles of Evangelical Biblical Interpretation. Downers Grove, 111.: Inter Varsity, 2006. 341 pp. $29.00.
There is something like a reviewer’s Golden Rule hinted at by C. S. Lewis where he calls reviewers to transcend their “own competitive particularity,” and critique works in view of the stated intentions of their author (An Experiment in Criticism [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1961], 138). In light of the current hermeneutical discussion that has broadened beyond disciplines and traditional conceptions—a point not missed by Goldsworthy (pp. 13, 84)—and with few “interpreters” ever escaping the deserts of prolegomena and wayfaring on to the golden shores of “a right understanding of what God says to us in his word” (p. 16), it is important to assess Goldsworthy’s work in light of his stated aims. Goldsworthy is not interested in entering into the fray of the various hermeneutical debates. He is instead driven by pastoral concerns (p. 13), and wants to encourage pastors and Bible teachers “to press on with confidence in the supreme authority” of the Word of God (p. 13). Goldsworthy sets out to achieve this aim in three movements. In Part 1, he considers the foundations and presuppositions of evangelical belief. In Part 2, he gives a selected overview of what he judges to be the most important hermeneutical developments. And in Part 3 he presses on toward reconstructing a “truly evangelical, gospel-centered hermeneutics” (p. 15).
The purpose of Part 1 “is to consider the grounds and basic assumptions, along with their justification, of evangelical belief and biblical interpretation” (p. 21). The basis for Goldsworthy’s metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics is Scripture (p. 22), and the function of hermeneutics is “the attempt to bridge the gap between the text inside its world and the readers /hearers inside their world” (p. 27). The gospel is the “hermeneutical norm for the whole of reality” (p. 63), and the essence of “snake-think” is doubting this reality (p. 72). Goldsworthy states that “Jesus is the hermeneutical norm” (p. 82), with the OT setting the salvation-historical context for his person and work. Jesus thus “determines the true meaning of that context” (p. 82).
The purpose of Part 2 “is to survey the nature of some of the main alien influences that have affected biblical interpretation from sub-apostolic times to the present” (p. 88). Goldsworthy aims to “highlight the ease with which either potential or actual crises can occur in the way the Bible is read and understood” (p. 89). He tours the sub-apostolic age, allegory and the Alexandrines, typology and the Antiochenes, precursors to medi...
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