Anthony C. Thiselton here brings together his encyclopedic knowledge of hermeneutics and his nearly four decades of teaching on the subject to provide a splendid interdisciplinary textbook. After a thorough historical overview of hermeneutics, Thiselton moves into modern times with extensive analysis of scholarship from the mid-twentieth century, including liberation and feminist theologies, reader-response and reception theory, and postmodernism. No other text on hermeneutics covers the range of writers and subjects discussed in Thiselton’s Hermeneutics.
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“Finally, whereas exegesis and interpretation denote the actual processes of interpreting texts, hermeneutics also includes the second-order discipline of asking critically what exactly we are doing when we read, understand, or apply texts. Hermeneutics explores the conditions and criteria that operate to try to ensure responsible, valid, fruitful, or appropriate interpretation.” (Page 4)
“Hence many writers on hermeneutics distinguish between the two valid dimensions of explanation and understanding. The axis of explanation is more akin to the traditional flow of knowing; understanding entails a more personal, intuitive, or suprarational dimension.” (Page 9)
“Understanding in the fullest sense demands engagement and self-involvement.” (Page 8)
“An allegory therefore presupposes shared understanding; a parable creates shared understanding. There are two further differences. An allegory addresses insiders who are in the know; a parable attacks, or seeks to win over, outsiders. Further, it is crucial that on the whole a parable presents an entirely coherent narrative world; an allegory can contain a string of independent applications.” (Page 38)
“The Parables of the Kingdom he wrote, ‘At its simplest the parable is a metaphor or simile drawn from nature or common life, arresting the hearer by its vividness or strangeness, and leaving the mind in sufficient doubt about its precise application to provoke it into active thought.” (Page 35)
Hermeneutics, although now recognized to be indispensable to biblical and theological study, has hitherto lacked an introductory textbook that is simultaneously lucid, comprehensive, and authoritative. This, at last, is it.
—Walter Moberly, professor of theology and religion, Durham University
This is that rare book that is simply a pleasure to read. An ideal textbook, it is provocative, wise, astonishingly informed, and scrupulously evenhanded in its handling of material. Elephants may swim here and children may safely paddle. It is truly Tony Thiselton’s legacy and the uncluttered distillation of a lifetime’s study of hermeneutics. I cannot praise this book sufficiently highly.
—Iain Torrance, president, Princeton Theological Seminary