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Whose Community? Which Interpretation? Philosophical Hermeneutics for the Church

ISBN: 9781441251466
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In this volume, renowned philosopher Merold Westphal introduces current philosophical thinking related to interpreting the Bible. Recognizing that no theology is completely free of philosophical “contamination,” he engages and mines contemporary hermeneutical theory in service of the church. After providing an historical overview of contemporary theories of interpretation, Westphal addresses postmodern hermeneutical theory, arguing that the relativity embraced there is not the same as the relativism in which “anything goes.” Rather, Westphal encourages us to embrace the proliferation of interpretations based on different perspectives as a way to get at the richness of the biblical text.

Logos Bible Software dramatically improves the value of this resource by enabling you to find what you are looking for instantly and with unbelievable precision. As you are reading Whose Community? Which Interpretation?, you can easily search and access topics or Scripture references you come across, for example, “tradition” or “hermeneutics.”

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  • Introduces current philosophical thinking related to interpreting the Bible
  • Provides an historical overview of contemporary theories

Top Highlights

“Moreover, it is the work of the Holy Spirit to continually break through our complacent prejudices and shortages of wisdom in and through the words of the Bible.” (Page 156)

“Here the multiplicity of interpretations stems not from the indeterminacy of the object but from the way it exceeds the ability of any limited perspective to grasp it in its totality. Each man’s perspective (tradition?) enabled him to grasp an aspect of the elephant that the others failed to grasp. So each was ‘partly in the right’ as a perspective without which the truth about the elephant could not be told. But ‘all were in the wrong’ because they took their partial grasp for the whole.” (Page 26)

“Objectivism in hermeneutics is the belief (hope, claim, dogma) that while interpretation can become subjective in this manner, it need not. Done rightly, interpretation can free itself from particular perspectives and presuppositions, whether personal or communal, and give us the meaning of the text.” (Page 46)

“Hirsch appeals to the prerogative of the author to provide such a meaning. The text means what the author meant (VI 1, 8). The author is the determiner of textual meaning (VI 246, 248). The task of interpretation is to reproduce what the author meant.” (Pages 47–48)

“a hermeneutics of ‘authorial discourse interpretation’” (Page 38)

Masterfully appropriating the insights of postmodern hermeneuticists, Westphal brings greater honesty to the interpretive practice of Christianity. . . . This book . . . should be disseminated at the threshold of every church and seminary.

—Christopher Benson, Christian Scholar’s Review

Westphal deftly navigates between hermeneutical despair and hermeneutical arrogance to arrive at a hermeneutic that affirms the vital importance of interpretation and yet insists that Scripture itself truly speaks. The result is not only a judicious and correct theory of interpretation but also a striking demonstration of what such a humble and respectful hermeneutic looks like in practice.

Bruce Ellis Benson, professor and chair of the philosophy department, Wheaton College

  • Title: Whose Community? Which Interpretation? Philosophical Hermeneutics for the Church
  • Author: Merold Westphal
  • Series: Church and Postmodern Culture
  • Publisher: Baker
  • Publication Date: 2009
  • Pages: 160

Merold Westphal is a distinguished professor of philosophy at Fordham University in Bronx, New York, where he has taught for more than 20 years. His many publications include Whose Community? Which Interpretation? Philosophical Hermeneutics for the Church, Christian Thought and Overcoming Onto-Theology.


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Print list price: $22.00
Save $0.01 (0%)