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Old Testament Cosmology and Divine Accommodation: A Relevance Theory Approach

, 2020
ISBN: 9781532676215



In order to reconcile the discrepancies between ancient and modern cosmology, confessional scholars from every viewpoint on the interpretation of the early chapters of Genesis agree that God accommodated language to finite human understanding. But in the history of interpretation, no consensus has emerged regarding what accommodation entails at the linguistic level. More precise consideration of how the ancient cognitive environment functions in the informative intention of the divine and human authors is necessary. Not only does relevance theory validate interpretative options that are inherently most probable within the primary communication situation, but the application of relevance theory can also help disentangle the complexities of dual authorship inherent in any model of accommodation. The results also make a salutary contribution to the theological reading of Scripture.

  • Incorporates relevance theory as a hermeneutical tool to evaluate how language engages the broader context of ideas and assumptions in the cognitive environment, thus advancing the conversation on creation texts, the doctrine of accommodation, and the theological interpretation of Scrupture
  • Takes into account elements such as the the role that literal interpretation plays in communication, and how cultural context plays in Christian interpretation of Genesis 1
  • Explores how Old Testament language relates to cosmological ideas of ancient Israel
As with any archaeological dig, unearthing ancient Near Eastern backgrounds for Old Testament exegesis is a delicate affair, and those who attempt it quickly get their hermeneutical hands dirty. John Hilber brings a new tool, relevance theory, to the task, enabling him to sift through cosmological assumptions and identify the ones that are operative. What Hilber here discovers is not an artifact, but a precious interpretive insight that shines new light on the divine accommodation of Scripture.

Kevin J. Vanhoozer, Research Professor of Systematic Theology, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

By engaging with relevance theory, Hilber has provided a dimension of comparative studies that was both lacking and sorely needed. This approach will help readers to understand the concept of a cognitive environment and how important it is for interpreting not just the opening chapters of Genesis, but the entire Bible. . . . Hilber’s judicious balance is evident throughout the book and his insights will become a fundamental aspect of my writing and teaching. Brilliant!”

John H. Walton, Professor of Old Testament, Wheaton College

How many adjectives can I pile up to describe the helpfulness of this work? In its content, it is knowledgeable, thoughtful, conscientious, and judicious. In its style it is clear, engaging, and inviting. . . . Professor Hilber has served us all well, and we owe him our thanks!

C. John Collins, Professor of Old Testament, Covenant Theological Seminary

In communicating to ancient Israel, God accommodated his message to Israel’s cultural context. But what are the dynamics of this contextualization strategy and how does it impact our understanding of the Genesis 1 creation account? John Hilber tackles these issues with mature scholarly insight, using relevance theory to support his thesis. Along the way, one finds concise, well-researched discussions of relevance theory, ancient cosmology, and accommodation. This is a must-read.

Robert B. Chisholm Jr., Chair and Senior Professor of Old Testament Studies, Dallas Theological Seminary

  • Title: Old Testament Cosmology and Divine Accommodation: A Relevance Theory Approach
  • Author: John W. Hilber
  • Publisher: Cascade
  • Print Publication Date: 2020
  • Logos Release Date: 2021
  • Pages: 214
  • Era: era:contemporary
  • Language: English
  • Resources: 1
  • Format: Digital › Logos Research Edition
  • Subjects: Biblical cosmology; Relevance theory; Bible. O.T. › Criticism, interpretation, etc; Bible. O.T. Genesis › Criticism, interpretation, etc
  • ISBNs: 9781532676215, 9781532676222, 9781532676239
  • Resource Type: Monograph
  • Metadata Last Updated: 2021-01-06T16:32:06Z

In the Logos edition, this volume is enhanced by amazing functionality. Important terms link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other resources in your digital library. Perform powerful searches to find exactly what you’re looking for. Take the discussion with you using Overview tablet and mobile apps. With Logos Bible Software, the most efficient and comprehensive research tools are in one place, so you get the most out of your study.

Dr. Hilber served for 15 years in pastoral ministry before pursuing doctoral studies in preparation for academic ministry. Consequently he is deeply committed to preparing students for careful study in real-life settings, and a number of his journal publications have addressed practical issues in church life. His specialized interest is the use of ancient background material in Old Testament studies. Dr. Hilber and his wife have one daughter. Ancient background material in


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