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Remythologizing Theology: Divine Action, Passion, and Authorship (Cambridge Studies in Christian Doctrine)
Professor Kevin J. Vanhoozer
Cambridge University Press, 2010
539 pp., $149.00
Stephen N. Williams
A Theodramatic Metaphysic
Only one adjective satisfies the demand for a snap response to a book which is (a) written by Kevin Vanhoozer and (b) registers at two pounds and four ounces on the kitchen scales: "Weighty." The author's creative use of speech-act theory and advancement of a canonical-linguistic interpretation of doctrine has made him deservedly influential on the contemporary theological scene, and this substantial volume on the doctrine of God will but extend that influence.
On reading the word "remythologizing," some will anticipate a theological project inspired by a letter written by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, which seemed to portend a remythologizing enterprise which he was himself never able to undertake. But Remythologizing Theology: Divine Action, Passion and Authorship has nothing to do with Bonhoeffer, although, as in his case, a contrast to "demythologizing" is intended. Vanhoozer holds that, in steering its course, theology must make an early decision to beware both of Bultmann's demythologizing and of Feuerbach's interpretation of theology as anthropology. Having so determined, in order thereafter to remain centered on the Bible, without letting these two out of sight, it should pursue its way by attending to the theodramatic character of biblical testimony. The form in which God's Word comes to us in Scripture is drama, of which God is the author and in which he is an actor, and theological reflection on God is not only well-advised, but actually bound, to be directed by this form, if we are to speak rightly and well of God.
To this reflective task Kevin Vanhoozer dedicates himself in this volume. If "authorship" and "theodrama" are the concepts or categories that immediately emerge from Scripture, "communicative agency" is the apt metaphysical rubric under which to elaborate them and further our thinking about God. "Remythologizing" amounts to an adumbration of this idea, in the conviction that it is no mere idea, but divine reality, that occupies us. "Mythos" refers to "all ...