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Preaching the Hard Sayings of Jesus
Preaching the Hard Sayings of Jesus
John T. Carroll
Hendrickson Pub, 1997
174 pp., $16.95

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"Take, Read": Scripture, Textuality, and Cultural Practice
"Take, Read": Scripture, Textuality, and Cultural Practice
Wesley A. Kort
Pennsylvania State Univ Pr (Txt), 1996
200 pp., $35.95

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From Scripture to Theology: A Canonical Journey into Hermeneutics
From Scripture to Theology: A Canonical Journey into Hermeneutics
Charles J. Scalise
Intervarsity Pr, 1996
150 pp., $13.00

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New Horizons in Hermeneutics
New Horizons in Hermeneutics
Anthony C. Thiselton
Zondervan, 1997
703 pp., $34.99

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Rightly Divided: Readings in Biblical Hermeneutics
Rightly Divided: Readings in Biblical Hermeneutics
Roy B. Zuck
Kregel Academic & Professional, 1996
320 pp., $18.99

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Roger Lundin


Listening to the Community of Saints

How Protestant interpreters of the Bible are recovering the neglected riches of tradition.

Hamlet was born too soon. That melancholy Dane, thrust into the dark, disordered world of early modernity, pined his life away, searching for a subject worthy of his capacious mind. Over the course of Shakespeare's early play, the young man constantly agonizes about his own indecision and tries to quit reflection and take action against his father's murder. Unable to act, Hamlet compounds his frustration with guilt about his cowardly indecisiveness. "Conscience does make cowards of us all," he concludes, "And thus the native hue of resolution / Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought."

Had he come upon the scene in the second half of the twentieth century, Hamlet might have found in hermeneutics the proper subject for his "pale cast of thought." It might have been the perfect subject for a dithering prince. With its seemingly infinite capacity for prompting reflection on the conditions for the human act of interpreting, hermeneutics could have fit the needs of a man prone to endless rumination about the conditions that make human action and understanding possible. Guilt-free and grant-supported, our contemporary Hamlet could spend his time in tenured reflection upon textuality rather than in tenuous meditations about vengeance and sexuality.

Yet poor Hamlet will always be a source rather than a beneficiary of our contemporary passion for thinking and talking about our talk and thought. Situated as he was in the sixteenth century, this Wittenberg student was a party to the process that would eventually generate the interpretive preoccupations of our present age. Hamlet's world is a thoroughly Protestant one, forsaking the interpretive uniformity and sacramental faith of the Middle Ages for the hermeneutical liberty and psychic inwardness of modernity. Indeed, if we try to track down the sources of our contemporary fascination with the theory of interpretation, the trail takes us to the century between Martin Luther and William Shakespeare, for it is there, at the ...

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