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The Ambuiguity of Being
Lonergan and the Problems of the Supernatural
Jonathan R. Heaps
Catholic University of America Press, 2024
The debate in Catholic theology over the relationship between the natural and the supernatural has only occasionally engaged with Bernard Lonergan’s philosophical and theological contributions on the topic. The Ambiguity of Being argues that more detailed engagement with Lonergan’s work implies an oversight in both the 20th- and 21st-century debates. The Ambiguity of Being argues the controversy has failed to notice how the problem of the natural and the supernatural is, in fact, two problems. The Ambiguity of Being takes both problems in their widest sense to be about action—both divine and human. The first problem asks how God can act in human action. A question for Christians at least since St. Augustine faced the Pelagian controversy, Lonergan retrieved what he understood to be St. Thomas Aquinas’ mature solution. It is a solution gathering together a whole series of theological and philosophical developments into a subtle metaphysical theory of divine and human cooperation. But the recent debates have resituated this problem (and various interpretations of St. Thomas’s solution to it) in a modern world with modern concerns about culture and politics for the sake of answering a second, intrinsically related, but really distinct question: what is God doing in human action? Ambiguity finds that the recent controversy almost always finds participants attempting to deduce an answer to the second, modern problem from the medieval, metaphysical Thomist solution to the first. By contrast, The Ambiguity of Being argues at length the modern problem cannot be reduced to, nor an answer deduced from its medieval, metaphysical partner because the modern problem of the supernatural—what is God doing in human action?—is a hermeneutical problem that calls out for a hermeneutical answer. The Ambiguity of Being sketches a heuristic for what a fully adequate answer to this question would require, suggesting a radical re-conception of modern theology’s scope.

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Beauty and the Bible
Toward a Hermeneutics of Biblical Aesthetics
Richard J. Bautch
SBL Press, 2013
These seven essays offer fresh perspectives on beauty’s role in revelation. Each essay features a hermeneutical approach informed by the contemporary study of aesthetics. Covering a series of texts in the Hebrew Bible and New Testament, from Adam and Eve in the garden to Jesus on trial in the Fourth Gospel, the authors engage beauty from three overarching perspectives: modern philosophy, contextual criticism, and the postcritical return to beauty’s primary qualities. The three perspectives are not harmonized but rather explored concurrently to create a volume with intriguing methodological tensions. As this collection highlights beauty in the narratives of scripture, it opens readers to a largely unexplored dimension of the Bible. The contributors are Richard J. Bautch, Jo-Ann A. Brant, Mark Brummitt, David Penchansky, Antonio Portalatín, Jean-François Racine, and Peter Spitaler.

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The Ohio State University Press, 1998

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Beyond Being
Gadamer's Post-Platonic Hermeneutic Ontology
Brice R. Wachterhauser
Northwestern University Press, 1999
Hans Georg-Gadamer is best known in the English-speaking world for his major work on philosophical hermeneutics, Truth and Method; he has also written extensively on the subject of Plato. Most commentators on Gadamer's work therefore view Gadamer either as a historian of philosophy or as a philosopher in his own right, critically engaged in the philosophical issues of our time.

In Beyond Being, Brice R. Wachterhauser contends that this perceived bifurcation in Gadamer's work oversimplifies and distorts important parts of Gadamer's thought. Wachterhauser argues that only by viewing Gadamer's contribution to philosophy as an integrated whole and by reading Gadamer's hermeneutical studies in light of his Plato studies are we able to avoid certain key misunderstandings of Gadamer, as well as to comprehend more clearly the radical implications of Gadamer's thought.

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Bible and Transformation
The Promise of Intercultural Bible Reading
Hans de Wit
SBL Press, 2015

Engage the delightful and inspiring, sometimes rough and rocky road to inclusive and transformative Bible reading

This book offers the results of research within a new area of discipline—empirical hermeneutics in intercultural perspective. The book includes interpretations from the homeless in Amsterdam, to Indonesia, from African Xhosa readers to Norway, to Madagascar, American youths, Germany, Czech Republic, Colombia, and Haitian refugees in the Dominican Republic.


  • Interpretations from ordinary readers in more than twenty-five countries
  • Background introduction with history of the text
  • Discussion of intertextual connections with Greco-Roman authors

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Black Critics and Kings
The Hermeneutics of Power in Yoruba Society
Andrew Apter
University of Chicago Press, 1992
How can we account for the power of ritual? This is the guiding question of Black Critics and Kings, which examines how Yoruba forms of ritual and knowledge shape politics, history, and resistance against the state. Focusing on "deep" knowledge in Yoruba cosmology as an interpretive space for configuring difference, Andrew Apter analyzes ritual empowerment as an essentially critical practice, one that revises authoritative discourses of space, time, gender, and sovereignty to promote political—-and even violent—-change.

Documenting the development of a Yoruba kingdom from its nineteenth-century genesis to Nigeria's 1983 elections and subsequent military coup, Apter identifies the central role of ritual in reconfiguring power relations both internally and in relation to wider political arenas. What emerges is an ethnography of an interpretive vision that has broadened the horizons of local knowledge to embrace Christianity, colonialism, class formation, and the contemporary Nigerian state. In this capacity, Yoruba òrìsà worship remains a critical site of response to hegemonic interventions.

With sustained theoretical argument and empirical rigor, Apter answers critical anthropologists who interrogate the possibility of ethnography. He reveals how an indigenous hermeneutics of power is put into ritual practice—-with multiple voices, self-reflexive awareness, and concrete political results. Black Critics and Kings eloquently illustrates the ethnographic value of listening to the voice of the other, with implications extending beyond anthropology to engage leading debates in black critical theory.

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Can We Survive Our Origins?
Readings in René Girard's Theory of Violence and the Sacred
Pierpaolo Antonello
Michigan State University Press, 2015
Are religions intrinsically violent (as is strenuously argued by the ‘new atheists’)? Or, as Girard argues, have they been functionally rational instruments developed to manage and cope with the intrinsically violent runaway dynamic that characterizes human social organization in all periods of human history? Is violence decreasing in this time of secular modernity post-Christendom (as argued by Steven Pinker and others)? Or are we, rather, at increased and even apocalyptic risk from our enhanced powers of action and our decreased socio-symbolic protections? Rene Girard’s mimetic theory has been slowly but progressively recognized as one of the most striking breakthrough contributions to twentieth-century critical thinking in fundamental anthropology: in particular for its power to model and explain violent sacralities, ancient and modern. The present volume sets this power of explanation in an evolutionary and Darwinian frame. It asks: How far do cultural mechanisms of controlling violence, which allowed humankind to cross the threshold of hominization—i.e., to survive and develop in its evolutionary emergence—still represent today a default setting that threatens to destroy us? Can we transcend them and escape their field of gravity? Should we look to—or should we look beyond—Darwinian survival? What—and where (if anywhere)—is salvation?

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The Conflict of Interpretations
Paul Ricoeur
Northwestern University Press, 1974
This collection brings together twenty-two essays by Paul Ricoeur under the topics of structuralism, psychoanalysis, hermeneutics, and religion. In dramatic conciseness, the essays illuminate the work of one of the leading philosophers of the day. Those interested in Ricoeur's development of the philosophy of language will find rich and suggestive reading. But the diversity of essays also speaks beyond the confines of philosophy to linguists, theologians, psychologists, and psychoanalysts.

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The Conflict of Interpretations
Essays in Hermeneutics
Paul Ricoeur
Northwestern University Press, 2007
This collection brings together twenty-two essays by Paul Ricoeur under the topics of structuralism, psychoanalysis, hermeneutics, and religion. In dramatic conciseness, the essays illuminate the work of one of the leading philosophers of the day. Those interested in Ricoeur's development of the philosophy of language will find rich and suggestive reading. But the diversity of essays also speaks beyond the confines of philosophy to linguists, theologians, psychologists, and psychoanalysts.

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Consequences of Hermeneutics
Fifty Years After Gadamer's Truth and Method
Jeff Malpas
Northwestern University Press, 2010

The publication of Hans-Georg Gadamer’s magnum opus Truth and Method in 1960 marked the arrival of philosophical hermeneutics as a dominant force in philosophy and the humanities as a whole. Consequences of Hermeneutics celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of one of the most important philosophical works of the twentieth century with essays by most of the leading figures in contemporary hermeneutic theory, including Gianni Vattimo and Jean Grondin.

These essays examine the achievements of hermeneutics as well as its current status and prospects for the future. Gadamer’s text provides an important focus, but the ambition of these critical reappraisals extends to hermeneutics more broadly and to a range of other thinkers, such as Heidegger, Ricoeur, Derrida, and Rorty. Forcefully demonstrating the continuing relevance and power of hermeneutics, Consequences of Hermeneutics is a fitting tribute to Gadamer and the legacy of his thought.


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Critique and Postcritique
Elizabeth S. Anker and Rita Felski, editors
Duke University Press, 2017
Now that literary critique's intellectual and political pay-off is no longer quite so self-evident, critics are vigorously debating the functions and futures of critique. The contributors to Critique and Postcritique join this conversation, evaluating critique's structural, methodological, and political potentials and limitations. Following the interventions made by Bruno Latour, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Sharon Marcus and Stephen Best, and others, the contributors assess the merits of the postcritical turn while exploring a range of alternate methods and critical orientations. Among other topics, the contributors challenge the distinction between surface and deep reading; outline how critique-based theory has shaped the development of the novel; examine Donna Haraway's feminist epistemology and objectivity; advocate for a "hopeful" critical disposition; highlight the difference between reading as method and critique as genre; and question critique's efficacy at attending to the affective dimensions of experience. In these and other essays this volume outlines the state of contemporary literary criticism while pointing to new ways of conducting scholarship that are better suited to the intellectual and political challenges of the present. 

Contributors: Elizabeth S. Anker, Christopher Castiglia, Russ Castronovo, Simon During, Rita Felski, Jennifer L. Fleissner, Eric Hayot, Heather Love, John Michael, Toril Moi, Ellen Rooney, C. Namwali Serpell

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Dante's Interpretive Journey
William Franke
University of Chicago Press, 1996
Critically engaging the thought of Heidegger, Gadamer, and others, William Franke contributes both to the criticism of Dante's Divine Comedy and to the theory of interpretation.

Reading the poem through the lens of hermeneutical theory, Franke focuses particularly on Dante's address to the reader as the site of a disclosure of truth. The event of the poem for its reader becomes potentially an experience of truth both human and divine. While contemporary criticism has concentrated on the historical character of Dante's poem, often insisting on it as undermining the poem's claims to transcendence, Franke argues that precisely the poem's historicity forms the ground for its mediation of a religious revelation. Dante's dramatization, on an epic scale, of the act of interpretation itself participates in the self-manifestation of the Word in poetic form.

Dante's Interpretive Journey is an indispensable addition to the field of Dante studies and offers rich insights for philosophy and theology as well.

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Dark Passages of the Bible
Matthew J. Ramage
Catholic University of America Press, 2013
Following the lead of Pope Benedict XVI, in Dark Passages of the Bible Matthew Ramage weds the historical-critical approach with a theological reading of Scripture based in the patristic-medieval tradition. Whereas these two approaches are often viewed as mutually exclusive or even contradictory, Ramage insists that the two are mutually enriching and necessary for doing justice to the Bible’s most challenging texts.

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Ecclesial Exegesis
A Synthesis of Ancient and Modern Approaches to Scripture
Gregory Vall
Catholic University of America Press, 2022
There is broad support today for the idea that biblical scholarship ought to be informed by the faith of the Church and serve the life of the Church. In a word, it should be ecclesial. There is far less agreement, however, when one asks how this goal is to be achieved and what ecclesial exegesis ought to look like. In 1988, Joseph Ratzinger put forth his “Method C” proposal, calling for the development of a new exegetical and hermeneutical synthesis. This would be neither a retreat to the patristic-medieval approach (Method A) nor the continued hegemony of the historical-critical approach (Method B). The latter must be purified of its positivism through a transformational encounter with the former, so that the gifts of both might be released for the life of the Church. Such a synthesis, Ratzinger claimed, would require the philosophical, theological, exegetical, and hermeneutical work of “at least a whole generation” of scholars. Gregory Vall has devoted over thirty years to the development of ecclesial exegesis, and the present volume represents the mature fruit of his labor. Over against those who treat Dei Verbum as Vatican II’s endorsement of the historical-critical method, he demonstrates that the dogmatic constitution actually points to something very much like Ratzinger’s Method C. Employing a dialogic movement between the inductive-exegetical and the deductive-dogmatic, Vall offers nine studies that bring to the surface issues such as the relationship between Old Testament and New Testament, literal sense and spiritual sense, and Scripture and Tradition. While Vall brings theological knowledge and hermeneutical skill to the quest for Method C, he also provides a great deal of valuable exegesis of both testaments. Ecclesial Exegesis is not simply another book of theory. It demonstrates how Method C can be done.

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Effective History
On Critical Practice Under Historical Conditions
Sinead Murphy
Northwestern University Press, 2010

Sinéad Murphy’s Effective History presents its reader with a thorough explanation and evaluation of H.-G. Gadamer’s concept of “effective history,” not only as it pertains to the broader range of hermeneutic and postmodern thinkers working in the wake of Kantian philosophy, but first and foremost as a careful and measured consideration of the practice of effective history as a critical method for philosophy in our current times. In this latter sense, the work pushes Gadamer’s thinking forward into new territory and provides an insightful estimation of the value of hermeneutic inquiry.

Murphy demonstrates that the notion of effective history not only stems from a central issue in Kant’s critical philosophy (the divide between the empirical and transcendental, between history and pure knowledge), but that it is best understood through an analysis of the various ways that certain contemporary thinkers fall into the traps and contradictions that stem from Kant’s critical turn.


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The Ethics of Our Climate
Hermeneutics and Ethical Theory
William O'Neill, SJ
Georgetown University Press, 1994

In this book, William O'Neill, SJ, offers an interpretation of the nature and scope of practical reasoning in light of postmodern philosophical criticism. He charts a via media between the abstract formalism of neo-Kantian morality and relativist interpretations of neo-Aristotelian ethics.

The three parts of the book treat the eclipse of the classical Aristotelian conception of practical reason; the Kantian heritage in the modern moral theories of John Rawls and R.M. Hare; and the hermeneutical retrieval of a moral interpretation of the world. Drawing upon the philosophical hermeneutics of Hans-Georg Gadamer, modern analytical philosophy, and the discourse ethics of Jürgen Habermas, O'Neill offers a critical reconstruction of practical reason which upholds the primacy of moral community while recognizing the ethical import of historical and cultural difference.

The final chapter applies the preceding hermeneutical critique to the question of the distinctiveness of Christian ethics in the writings of Karl Barth, Hans Urs von Balthasar, Josef Fuchs, and Bruno Schüller. This original contribution will be of special interest to students and teachers of moral philosophy and theology.


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Expanding Hermeneutics
Visualism in Science
Don Ihde
Northwestern University Press, 1999
Expanding Hermeneutics examines the development of interpretation theory, emphasizing how science in practice involves and implicates interpretive processes. Ihde argues that the sciences have developed a sophisticated visual hermeneutics that produces evidence by means of imaging, visual displays, and visualizations. From this vantage point, Ihde demonstrates how interpretation is built into technologies and instruments.

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Folklore in New World Black Fiction
Writing and the Oral Traditional Aesthetics
Chiji Akoma
The Ohio State University Press, 2007
For a while, tracing African roots in the artistic creations of blacks in the New World tended to generate much attention as if to suggest that the New World does not have profound impact on their creative spirit. In addition, few studies have tried to construct an interpretive model through which an array of works by New World writers could be meaningfully explored on the basis of their African Diasporic identity.
In Folklore in New World Black Fiction, Chiji Akọma offers an interpretive model for the reading of the African New World novel focusing on folklore, not as an ingredient, but as the basis for the narratives. The works examined do not contain folklore materials; they are folklore, constituted by the intersections of African oral narrative aesthetics, New World sensibility, and the written tradition. Specifically Akọma looks at four African Caribbean and African American novelists, Roy A.K. Heath, Wilson Harris, Toni Morrison, and Jean Toomer.
The book seeks to expand the understanding of the forms of folklore as it pertains to black texts. For one, it broadens the dimensions of folklore by looking beyond the oral world of the “simple folk” to the kinds of narrative sophistication associated with writing; it also asserts the importance of performance art in folklore analysis. The study demonstrates the durability of the black aesthetic over artistic forms.

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Fragile Finitude
A Jewish Hermeneutical Theology
Michael Fishbane
University of Chicago Press, 2021
The world we engage with is a vibrant collage brought to consciousness by language and our creative imagination. It is through the symbolic forms of language that the human world of value is revealed—this is where religious scholar Michael Fishbane dwells in his latest contribution to Jewish thought.

In Fragile Finitude, Fishbane clears new ground for a theological life through a novel reinterpretation of the Book of Job. On this basis, he offers a contemporary engagement with the four classical types of Jewish Scriptural exegesis. The first focuses on worldly experience, the second on communal forms of practice and thought in the rabbinical tradition, the third on personal development, and the fourth on transcendent, cosmic orientations. Through these four modes, Fishbane manages to transform Jewish theology from within, at once reinvigorating a long tradition and moving beyond it. What he offers is nothing short of a way to reorient our lives in relation to the divine and our fellow humans. Written from within the Jewish tradition, Fragile Finitude is intended for readers across the religious spectrum.

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The Existential Situation of Our Time: Selected Essays, Volume 1
David Tracy
University of Chicago Press, 2020
David Tracy is widely considered one of the most important religious thinkers in North America, known for his pluralistic vision and disciplinary breadth. His first book in more than twenty years reflects Tracy’s range and erudition, collecting essays from the 1980s to 2018 into a two-volume work that will be greeted with joy by his admirers and praise from new readers.

In the first volume, Fragments, Tracy gathers his most important essays on broad theological questions, beginning with the problem of suffering across Greek tragedy, Christianity, and Buddhism. The volume goes on to address the Infinite, and the many attempts to categorize and name it by Plato, Aristotle, Rilke, Heidegger, and others. In the remaining essays, he reflects on questions of the invisible, contemplation, hermeneutics, and public theology. Throughout, Tracy evokes the potential of fragments (understood both as concepts and events) to shatter closed systems and open us to difference and Infinity. Covering science, literature, philosophy, psychoanalysis, and non-Western religious traditions, Tracy provides in Fragments a guide for any open reader to rethink our fragmenting contemporary culture.

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From Text to Action
Essays in Hermeneutics, II
Paul Ricoeur, Translated from the French by Kathleen Blamey and John B. Thompson, Foreword to the new edition by Richard Kearney
Northwestern University Press, 2007
Incredible originality of thought in areas as vast as phenomenology, religion, hermeneutics, psychoanalysis, intersubjectivity, language, Marxism, and structuralism has made Paul Ricoeur one of the philosophical giants of the twentieth century. The way in which Ricoeur approaches these themes makes his works relevant to the reader today: he writes with honesty and depth of insight into the core of a problem, and his ability to mark for future thought the very path of philosophical inquiry is nearly unmatched. 

From Text to Action is an essential companion to the classic The Conflict of Interpretations. Here, Ricoeur continues and extends his project of constructing a general theory of interpretation, positioning his work in relation to its philosophical background: Hegel, Husserl, Gadamer, and Weber. He also responds to contemporary figures like K. O. Apel and Jürgen Habermas, connecting his own theorization of ideology to their critique of ideology. 

This new edition includes a foreword by Richard Kearney. It and other new editions of Ricoeur's texts published by Northwestern University Press have joined the canon of contemporary continental philosophy and continue to contribute to emergent discussions in the twenty-first century. 

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From Text to Action
Essays in Hermeneutics, II
Paul Ricoeur
Northwestern University Press, 1991
With his writings on phenomenology, psychoanalysis, Marxism, ideology, and religion, Paul Ricoeur has single-handedly redefined and revitalized the hermeneutic tradition. From Text to Action is an essential companion to the now classic The Conflict of Interpretations. Here, Ricoeur continues and extends his project of constructing a general theory of interpretation, positioning his work in relation to its own philosophical background: Hegel, Husserl, Gadamer, and Weber. He also responds to contemporary figures like K.O. Apel and Jürgen Habermas, connecting his own theorization of ideology to their version of ideology critique.

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The Gadamer Reader
A Bouquet of the Later Writings
Hans-Georg Gadamer
Northwestern University Press, 2007
The German volume Gadamer Lesebuch [A Gadamer Reader] (1997), selected and edited by Jean Grondin in consultation with Hans-Georg Gadamer himself, contains a set of essays that present a cross section of writings by one of the twentieth century's greatest philosophers. The volume begins with an autobiographical sketch and culminates in a conversation with Jean Grondin that looks back over a lifetime of productive philosophical work. The essays not already available in English have here been translated by Richard E. Palmer, a respected translator of Gadamer's writings. The sixteen essays contained in the Lesebuch are augmented here by three other essays: Gadamer's last essay on Derrida, "Hermeneutics Tracking the Trace" (1994) and two essays on practical philosophy. The Gadamer Reader: A Bouquet of the Later Writings richly conveys the scope and depth of Gadamer's thought, covering the range of his work in hermeneutics, aesthetics, practical philosophy, and essays on Plato, Hegel, and Heidegger. In addition, Palmer offers introductory remarks before each essay that explain its importance in the context of Gadamer's writings and define its key terms. Throughout, in both his translation and commentary, his aim is to make this critically important philosopher as clear and accessible as possible to an English-speaking audience.

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Gadamer’s Hermeneutics
Between Phenomenology and Dialectic
Robert J. Dostal
Northwestern University Press, 2022
In Gadamer’s Hermeneutics Robert J. Dostal provides a comprehensive and critical account of Hans-Georg Gadamer’s hermeneutical philosophy, arguing that Gadamer’s enterprise is rooted in the thesis that “being that can be understood is language.” He defends Gadamer against charges of linguistic idealism and emphasizes language’s relationship to understanding, though he criticizes Gadamer for too often ignoring the role of the prelinguistic in our experience. Dostal goes on to explain the concept of the "inner word" for Gadamer’s account of language.  
The book situates Gadamer’s hermeneutics in three important ways: in relation to the contestability of the legacy of the Enlightenment project; in relation to the work of his mentor, Martin Heidegger; and in relation to Gadamer’s reading of Plato and Aristotle. Dostal explores both Gadamer’s claim on the Enlightenment and his ambivalence toward it. He considers Gadamer’s dependence on Heidegger’s accomplishment while pointing out the ways in which Gadamer charted his own course, rejecting his teacher’s reading of Plato and his antihumanism. Dostal points out notable differences in the philosophers’ politics as well. Finally, Dostal mediates between Gadamer’s hermeneutics and what might be called philological hermeneutics. His analysis defends the civic humanism that is the culmination of the philosopher’s hermeneutics, a humanism defined by moral education, common sense, judgment, and taste. Supporters and critics of Gadamer’s philosophy will learn much from this major achievement. 

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The Genesis of Secrecy
On the Interpretation of Narrative
Frank Kermode
Harvard University Press, 1979

Frank Kermode has long held a distinctive place among modern critics. He brings to the study of literature a fine and fresh critical intelligence that is always richly suggestive, never modish. He offers here an inquiry—elegant in conception and style—into the art of interpretation. His subject quite simply is meanings; how they are revealed and how they are concealed.

Drawing on the venerable tradition of biblical interpretation, Mr. Kermode examines some enigmatic passages and episodes in the gospels. From his reading come ideas about what makes interpretation possible—and often impossible. He considers ways in which narratives acquire opacity, and he asks whether there are methods of distinguishing all possible meaning from a central meaning which gives the story its structure. He raises questions concerning the interpretation of single texts in relation to their context in a writer’s work and a tradition; considers the special interpretative problems of historical narration; and tries to relate the activities of the interpreter to interpretation more broadly conceived as a means of living in the world.

While discussing the gospels, Mr. Kermode touches upon such literary works as Kafka’s parables, Joyce’s Ulysses, Henry James’s novels, and Pynchon’s Crying of Lot 49. By showing the relationships between religious interpretation and literary criticism, he has enhanced both fields.


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Global Hermeneutics. Reflections and Consequences
Knut Holter
SBL Press, 2010

A collection of essays from the International Cooperation Initiative of the Society of Biblical Literature

This first volume in the International Voices in Biblical Studies series stimulates and facilitates a global hermeneutic in which centers and margins fade. The collection explores the global context within which biblical studies and interpretation take place, includes three case studies from different regions, and reflections on the consequences of global hermeneutics on biblical interpretation and on translation.


  • Case studies from different regions
  • Essays explore both the positive and negative aspects of globalization
  • Seven essays represent scholarship from Africa and Latin America
  • [more]

    front cover of Gospel Jesuses and Other Nonhumans
    Gospel Jesuses and Other Nonhumans
    Biblical Criticism Post-poststructuralism
    Stephen D. Moore
    SBL Press, 2017

    Essential reading for biblical studies students and scholars interested in cutting-edge critical theory

    The current global ecological crisis has prompted a turn to the nonhuman in critical theory. This book breaks new ground in biblical studies as the first to bring nonhuman theory to bear on the gospels and Acts. Nonhuman theory, a confluence of several of the main theoretical streams that have issued forth since the heyday of high poststructuralism, includes affect theory, posthuman animality studies, critical plant studies, object-oriented new materialisms, and assemblage theory. Nonhuman theory dismantles and reassembles the Western concept of “the human” that coalesced during the Enlightenment and testifies to other conceptions of the human and of the nonhuman, not least those found in the canonical gospels and Acts. Stephen D. Moore’s exegetical explorations and defamiliarizations of these overly familiar texts and excavations of their incessantly erased strangeness are the central feature of this provocative book.


    • New paths in biblical ecotheology and ecocriticism
    • A significant contribution to the analysis of emotions in biblical texts
    • Class resource for courses in methods for biblical studies, the gospels, and the Bible and ecology

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    Hegel on Hamann
    G. W. F. Hegel
    Northwestern University Press, 2008

    In 1828, G. W. F. Hegel published a critical review of Johann George Hamann, a retrospective of the life and works of one of Germany's most enigmatic and challenging thinkers and writers. While Hegel's review had enjoyed a central place in Hamann studies since its appearance, Hegel on Hamann is the first English translation of the important work. Philosophers, theologians, and literary critics welcome Anderson's stunning translation since Hamann is gaining renewed attention, not only as a key figure of German intellectual history, but also as an early forerunner of postmodern thought. Relationships between Enlightenment, Counter Enlightenment, and Idealism come to the fore as Hegel reflects on Hamann's critiques of his contemporaries Immanuel Kant, Moses Mendelssohn, J. G. Herder, and F. H. Jacobi. Hegel on Hamann also includes an introduction to Hegel's review, as well as an essay on the role of friendship in Hamann's life, in Hegel's thought, and in German intellectual culture more broadly. Rounding out the volume are its extensive annotations and bibliography, which facilitate further study of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century philosophy in English and German. This book is essential both for readers of Hegel or Hamann and for those interested in the history of German thought, the philosophy of religion, language and hermeneutics, or friendship as a philosophical category.


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    Heidegger and the Destruction of Aristotle
    On How to Read the Tradition
    Sean D. Kirkland
    Northwestern University Press, 2023

    A bold new conception of Heidegger’s project of Destruktion as a method of interpreting history

    For Martin Heidegger, our inherited traditions provide the concepts through which we make our world intelligible. Concepts we can also oppose, disrupt, and even exceed. First, however, if Western philosophy is our inheritance, we must submit it to Destruktion—starting with Aristotle. Heidegger and the Destruction of Aristotle: On How to Read the Tradition presents a new conception of Heidegger’s “destruction” as a way of reading.

    Situated between Nietzschean genealogy and Derridean deconstruction, this method uncovers in Aristotle the most vital originating articulations of the Western tradition and gives us the means to confront it. Sean D. Kirkland argues this is not a rejection of the past but a sophisticated and indeed timely hermeneutic tool—a complex, illuminating, and powerful method for interpreting historical texts at our present moment. Acknowledging the historical Heidegger as a politically compromised and still divisive figure, Kirkland demonstrates that Heideggerian destruction is a method of interpreting history that enables us to reorient and indeed transform its own most troubling legacies.


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    Hermeneutic Phenomenology
    The Philosopher of Paul Ricoeur
    Don Ihde
    Northwestern University Press, 1971
    Hermeneutic Phenomenology serves to introduce the philosophy of Paul Ricœur and give new perspectives to the philosophy of language.  

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    Hermeneutical Heidegger
    Edited by Michael Bowler and Ingo Farin
    Northwestern University Press, 2016
    Hermeneutical Heidegger critically examines and confronts Heidegger's hermeneutical approach to philosophy and the history of philosophy. Heidegger's work, both early and late, has had a profound impact on hermeneutics and hermeneutical philosophy. The essays in this volume are striking in the way they exhibit the variety of perspectives on the development and role of hermeneutics in Heidegger's work, allowing a multiplicity of views on the nature of hermeneutics and hermeneutical philosophy to emerge. As Heidegger argues, the rigor and strength of philosophy do not consist in the development of a univocal and universal method, but in philosophy's ability to embrace—not just tolerate—the questioning of its basic concepts. The essays in Hermeneutical Heidegger are exemplars of this kind of rigor and strength.

    front cover of Hermeneutics and Truth
    Hermeneutics and Truth
    Brice R. Wachterhauser
    Northwestern University Press, 1994
    The claim that all human thought involves "interpretation," that all human thought is in some way relative to a contingent context of cognitive, theoretical, practical, and aesthetic considerations, has become widely accepted, but what we understand by "truth" and how we should best pursue it are questions raised with renewed force once a hermeneutical starting point has been embraced.  Brice R. Wachterhauser's collection Hermeneutics and Truth is an attempt to contribute to this conversation.

    No thinkers have wrestled with the issue of truth and interpretation in more illuminating ways for the Continental tradition of philosophy than Heidegger and Gadamer. Hermeneutics and Truth is a dual focus on Heidegger and Gadamer, but it concentrates primarily on Gadamer's efforts to think through the issue of truth for hermeneutics and only secondarily on Heidegger's thought on this issue. 

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    Interpretation Theory in Schleiermacher, Dilthey, Heidegger, and Gadamer
    Richard E. Palmer
    Northwestern University Press, 1969
    Hermeneutics introduces English-speaking readers to a field of increasing importance in contemporary philosophy and theology—hermeneutics, the theory of understanding, or interpretation. Hermeneutics is concerned with the character of understanding, especially as it is related to interpreting linguistic texts. It goes beyond mere philological methodology, however, to questions of the philosophy of language, the nature of historical understanding, and ultimately the roots of interpretation in existential understanding.

    Palmer principally treats the conception of hermeneutics enunciated by Heidegger and developed into a “philosophical hermeneutics” by Hans-Georg Gadamer. He provides a brief overview of the field of hermeneutics by surveying some half-dozen alternate definitions of the term and by examining in detail the contributions of Friedrich Schleiermacher and Wilhelm Dilthey. In the “Manifesto” which concludes the book, Palmer suggests the potential significance of hermeneutics for literary interpretation.

    When the context of interpretation is pressed to its limits, hermeneutics becomes the philosophical analysis of what is involved in every act of understanding. In this context, hermeneutics becomes relevant not simply to the humanistic disciplines, in which linguistic and historical understanding are crucial, but to scientific forms of interpretation as well, for it asserts the principles involved in any and every act of interpretation.

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    The Hermeneutics of Original Argument
    Demonstration, Dialectic, Rhetoric
    P. Christopher Smith
    Northwestern University Press, 1998
    What, precisely, does the word hermeneutics mean? And in what sense can one speak of the hermeneutics of original argument? In The Hermeneutics of Original Argument, P. Christopher Smith explores these questions in building upon Heidegger's hermeneutical thought. In applying Heidegger's basic notion that hermeneutics is not a doctrine of interpretation but is its actual execution, Christopher Smith penetrates the abstractions that conceal original argument and explores the structure and nature of argument as it originally occurs.

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    The Hermeneutics of Sacred Architecture
    Experience, Interpretation, Comparison
    Lindsay Jones
    Harvard University Press, 2000

    The two volumes of this investigation into how we perceive sacred architecture propose an original interpretation of built environments as ritual-architectural events.

    Exploring the world's cultures and religious traditions, Volume One maps out patterned responses to sacred architecture according to the human experience, mechanism, interpretation, and comparison of architecture. Volume Two, an exercise in comparative morphology, offers a comprehensive framework of ritual-architectural priorities by looking at architecture as orientation, as commemoration, and as ritual context.


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    The Hermeneutics of Sacred Architecture
    Experience, Interpretation, Comparison
    Lindsay Jones
    Harvard University Press, 2000

    The two volumes of this investigation into how we perceive sacred architecture propose an original interpretation of built environments as ritual-architectural events.

    Exploring the world's cultures and religious traditions, Volume One maps out patterned responses to sacred architecture according to the human experience, mechanism, interpretation, and comparison of architecture. Volume Two, an exercise in comparative morphology, offers a comprehensive framework of ritual-architectural priorities by looking at architecture as orientation, as commemoration, and as ritual context.


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    The Hermeneutics of Torah
    Proverbs 2, Deuteronomy, and the Composition of Proverbs 1–9
    Bernd U. Schipper
    SBL Press, 2021

    This revised and expanded English edition of Bernd U. Schipper’s 2012 Hermeneutik der Tora incorporates the results of his continued research and writings on Proverbs. For nearly a century, many biblical scholars have argued that the main theological traditions, such as the divine law, God’s torah, do not appear in the book of Proverbs. In this volume, however, Schipper demonstrates that Proverbs interacts in a sophisticated way with the concept of the torah. A detailed analysis of Proverbs 2 and other passages from the first part of the book of Proverbs shows that Proverbs engages in a postexilic discourse around “wisdom and torah” concerning the abilities of humans to fulfill the will of YHWH exemplified in the divine torah.


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    Questions and Prospects
    Shapiro Gary
    University of Massachusetts Press

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    Hermes’ Dilemma and Hamlet’s Desire
    On the Epistemology of Interpretation
    Vincent Crapanzano
    Harvard University Press, 1992

    A distinguished anthropologist and a creative force behind postmodern writing in his field, Vincent Crapanzano here focuses his considerable critical powers upon his own culture. In essays that question how the human sciences, particularly anthropology and psychoanalysis, articulate their fields of study, Crapanzano addresses nothing less than the enormous problem of defining the self in both its individual and collective projections.

    Treating subjects as diverse as Roman carnivals and Balinese cockfights, circumcision, dreaming, and spirit possession in Morocco, transference in psychoanalysis, self-characterization in teenage girls’ gossip, Alice in Wonderland, and Jane Austen’s Emma, dialogue models in hermeneutics, and semantic vertigo in Hamlet’s Elsinore, these essays look critically at the inner workings of interpretation in human sciences and literary study. In modern Western culture’s attempts to interpret and communicate the nature of other cultures, Crapanzano finds a crippling crisis in representation. He shows how the quest for knowledge of “exotic” and “primitive” people is often confused with an unexamined need for self-definition, and he sets forth the resulting interpretive paradoxes, particularly the suppression of any awareness of the play of power and desire in such an approach. What is missing from contemporary theories of interpretation is, in Crapanzano’s account, a crucial understanding of the role context plays in any act of communication or its representation—in interpretation itself.


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    Art and Attachment
    Rita Felski
    University of Chicago Press, 2020
    How does a novel entice or enlist us? How does a song surprise or seduce us? Why do we bristle when a friend belittles a book we love, or fall into a funk when a favored TV series comes to an end? What characterizes the aesthetic experiences of feeling captivated by works of art? In Hooked, Rita Felski challenges the ethos of critical aloofness that is a part of modern intellectuals’ self-image. The result is sure to be as widely read as Felski’s book, The Limits of Critique.

    Wresting the language of affinity away from accusations of sticky sentiment and manipulative marketing, Felski argues that “being hooked” is as fundamental to the appreciation of high art as to the enjoyment of popular culture. Hooked zeroes in on three attachment devices that connect audiences to works of art: identification, attunement, and interpretation. Drawing on examples from literature, film, music, and painting—from Joni Mitchell to Matisse, from Thomas Bernhard to Thelma and Louise—Felski brings the language of attachment into the academy. Hooked returns us to the fundamentals of aesthetic experience, showing that the social meanings of artworks are generated not just by critics, but also by the responses of captivated audiences.

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    How We Became Human
    Mimetic Theory and the Science of Evolutionary Origins
    Pierpaolo Antonello
    Michigan State University Press, 2015
    From his groundbreaking Violence and the Sacred and Things Hidden since the Foundation of the World, René Girard’s mimetic theory is presented as elucidating “the origins of culture.” He posits that archaic religion (or “the sacred”), particularly in its dynamics of sacrifice and ritual, is a neglected and major key to unlocking the enigma of “how we became human.” French philosopher of science Michel Serres states that Girard’s theory provides a Darwinian theory of culture because it “proposes a dynamic, shows an evolution and gives a universal explanation.” This major claim has, however, remained underscrutinized by scholars working on Girard’s theory, and it is mostly overlooked within the natural and social sciences. Joining disciplinary worlds, this book aims to explore this ambitious claim, invoking viewpoints as diverse as evolutionary culture theory, cultural anthropology, archaeology, cognitive psychology, ethology, and philosophy. The contributors provide major evidence in favor of Girard’s hypothesis. Equally, Girard’s theory is presented as having the potential to become for the human and social sciences something akin to the integrating framework that present-day biological science owes to Darwin—something compatible with it and complementary to it in accounting for the still remarkably little understood phenomenon of human emergence.

    front cover of Imagination and Interpretation in Kant
    Imagination and Interpretation in Kant
    The Hermeneutical Import of the Critique of Judgment
    Rudolf A. Makkreel
    University of Chicago Press, 1990
    In this illuminating study of Kant's theory of imagination and its role in interpretation, Rudolf A. Makkreel argues against the commonly held notion that Kant's transcendental philosophy is incompatible with hermeneutics. The charge that Kant's foundational philosophy is inadequate to the task of interpretation can be rebutted, explains Makkreel, if we fully understand the role of imagination in his work. In identifying this role, Makkreel also reevaluates the relationship among Kant's discussions of the feeling of life, common sense, and the purposiveness of history.

    front cover of In the School of the Word
    In the School of the Word
    Biblical Interpretation from the New to the Old Testament
    Carlos Granados
    Saint Paul Seminary Press, 2021
    Carlos Granados and Luis Sánchez-Navarro propose reading the Bible with Christian faith, not as one approach among many, but as a disposition demanded by the New Testament for proper interpretation of both the Old and the New. Even so, the authors’ faith never leads them to dismiss history or to discard the tools of the historical-critical method. On the contrary, these sciences allow the faithful reader to take a holistic approach to biblical truth. When the reader also takes full account of the ecclesial reality in which the Bible was formed and transmitted, and in which it must be read still today, he or she encounters the word proclaimed by the text. Indeed, the words of Holy Writ ultimately proclaim the Word (Logos), Jesus Christ, in whose Spirit they were written. This book’s thirteen essays are grouped into three parts. Part I, “The Church, Living Subject of Sacred Scripture,” takes up a foundational theme of the whole book: sacred Scripture calls for a reading within the community of the People of God under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and the same People constitute the living subject of Scripture. In Part II, “Christ, Exegete of the Fulfillment,” the authors focus on the relationship between the two biblical testaments. They argue that the Christian can both respect and venerate the Old Testament on its own terms, even as they find in Jesus, as presented in the New Testament and encountered in faith, the key for unlocking the Old Testament’s deepest meaning. The third and final part of this book, “The Teaching in Benedict XVI’s Verbum Domini,” examines Pope Benedict XVI’s 2010 post-synodal apostolic exhortation on the word of God in the life and mission of the Church. The authors’ years of shared prayer, study, conversation, and ministry have led to this coauthored book bearing witness to that ongoing unity that they live as confreres. Not surprisingly, they frequently reference the same theologians, especially Brevard Childs, Paul Beauchamp, SJ, and Pope Benedict XVI.

    front cover of Inspiration and Interpretation
    Inspiration and Interpretation
    A Theological Introduction to Sacred Scripture
    Denis Farkasfalvy
    Catholic University of America Press, 2010
    Inspiration and Interpretation provides readers with a much needed general theological introduction to the study of Sacred Scripture.

    front cover of Intellectual Sacrifice and Other Mimetic Paradoxes
    Intellectual Sacrifice and Other Mimetic Paradoxes
    Paolo Diego Bubbio
    Michigan State University Press, 2018
    Intellectual Sacrifice and Other Mimetic Paradoxes is an account of Paolo Diego Bubbio’s twenty-year intellectual journey through the twists and turns of Girard’s mimetic theory. The author analyzes philosophy and religion as “enemy sisters” engaged in an endless competitive struggle and identifies the intellectual space where this rivalry can either be perpetuated or come to a paradoxical resolution. He goes on to explore topics ranging from arguments for the existence of God to mimetic theory’s post-Kantian legacy, political implications, and capacity for identifying epochal phenomena, such as the crisis of the self, in popular culture. Bubbio concludes by advocating for an encounter between mimetic theory and contemporary philosophical hermeneutics—an encounter in which each approach benefits and is enriched by the resources of the other. The volume features a previously unpublished letter by René Girard on the relationship between philosophy and religion.

    front cover of Interpretation and Social Criticism
    Interpretation and Social Criticism
    Michael Walzer
    Harvard University Press, 1987

    What do social critics do? I How do they go about doing it? Where do their principles come from? How do critics establish their distance from the people and institutions they criticize?

    Michael Walzer addresses these problems in succinct and engaging fashion, providing a philosophical framework for understanding social criticism as a social practice. Walzer maintains that social criticism is an ordinary activity—less the offspring of scientific knowledge than the “educated cousin of common complaint”—and does not depend for its force or accuracy upon any sort of high theory. In his view, the social critic is not someone radically detached and disinterested, who looks at society as a total stranger and applies objective and universal principles. The true social critic must stand only a little to the side of his society—unlike Jean-Paul Sartre during the Algerian war, for example, who described himself as an enemy of his own people. And unlike Lenin, who judged Russian society against a standard worked out with reference to other places far away.

    The “connected” critic is the model Walzer offers, one whose distance is measured in inches but who is highly critical nevertheless. John Locke is one example of the connected critic who argued for religious toleration not as a universal right ordained by reason but as a practical consequence of Protestant theology. The biblical prophets, such as Amos, were also men of their own day, with a particular quarrel to conduct with their fellows; the universalism of that quarrel is our own extrapolation. Walzer explains where critical principles come from, how much distance is “critical distance,” and what the historical practice of criticism has actually been like in the work of social philosophers such as Marx, Gramsci, Koestler, Lenin, Habermas, and Rawls.

    Walzer posits a moral world already in existence, a historical product, that gives structure to our lives but whose ordinances are always uncertain and in need of scrutiny, argument, and commentary. The social critic need bring to his task only the ordinary tools of interpretation. Philosophers, political theorists, and all readers seriously interested in the possibility of a moral life will find sustenance and inspiration in this book.


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    Interpreting Environments
    Tradition, Deconstruction, Hermeneutics
    By Robert Mugerauer
    University of Texas Press, 1995

    In this pioneering book, Robert Mugerauer seeks to make deconstruction and hermeneutics accessible to people in the environmental disciplines, including architecture, planning, urban studies, environmental studies, and cultural geography.

    Mugerauer demonstrates each methodology through a case study. The first study uses the traditional approach to recover the meaning of Jung's and Wittgenstein's houses by analyzing their historical, intentional contexts. The second case study utilizes deconstruction to explore Egyptian, French neoclassical, and postmodern attempts to use pyramids to constitute a sense of lasting presence. And the third case study employs hermeneutics to reveal how the American understanding of the natural landscape has evolved from religious to secular to ecological since the nineteenth century.


    front cover of Interpreting Law and Literature
    Interpreting Law and Literature
    A Hermeneutic Reader
    Sanford Levinson and Steven Mailloux
    Northwestern University Press, 1988
    From the Preface:

    "Contemporary theory has usefully analyzed how alternative modes of interpretation produce different meanings, how reading itself is constituted by the variable perspectives of readers, and how these perspectives are in turn defined by prejudices, ideologies, interests, and so forth. Some theorists gave argued persuasively that textual meaning, in literature and in literary interpretation, is structured by repression and forgetting, by what the literary or critical text does not say as much as by what it does. All these claims are directly relevant to legal hermeneutics, and thus it is no surprise that legal theorists have recently been turning to literary theory for potential insight into the interpretation of law. This collection of essays is designed to represent the especially rich interactive that has taken place between legal and literary hermeneutics during the past ten years."

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    Islam and Modernity
    Transformation of an Intellectual Tradition
    Fazlur Rahman
    University of Chicago Press, 1984
    "As Professor Fazlur Rahman shows in the latest of a series of important contributions to Islamic intellectual history, the characteristic problems of the Muslim modernists—the adaptation to the needs of the contemporary situation of a holy book which draws its specific examples from the conditions of the seventh century and earlier—are by no means new. . . . In Professor Rahman's view the intellectual and therefore the social development of Islam has been impeded and distorted by two interrelated errors. The first was committed by those who, in reading the Koran, failed to recognize the differences between general principles and specific responses to 'concrete and particular historical situations.' . . . This very rigidity gave rise to the second major error, that of the secularists. By teaching and interpreting the Koran in such a way as to admit of no change or development, the dogmatists had created a situation in which Muslim societies, faced with the imperative need to educate their people for life in the modern world, were forced to make a painful and self-defeating choice—either to abandon Koranic Islam, or to turn their backs on the modern world."—Bernard Lewis, New York Review of Books

    "In this work, Professor Fazlur Rahman presents a positively ambitious blueprint for the transformation of the intellectual tradition of Islam: theology, ethics, philosophy and jurisprudence. Over the voices advocating a return to Islam or the reestablishment of the Sharia, the guide for action, he astutely and soberly asks: What and which Islam? More importantly, how does one get to 'normative' Islam? The author counsels, and passionately demonstrates, that for Islam to be actually what Muslims claim it to be—comprehensive in scope and efficacious for every age and place—Muslim scholars and educationists must reevaluate their methodology and hermeneutics. In spelling out the necessary and sound methodology, he is at once courageous, serious and profound."—Wadi Z. Haddad, American-Arab Affairs

    front cover of <i>Verbum Domini</i> and the Complementarity of Exegesis and Theology
    Verbum Domini and the Complementarity of Exegesis and Theology
    Scott Carl
    Saint Paul Seminary Press, 2021
    In Verbum Domini, his 2010 apostolic exhortation, Pope Benedict XVI challenged the church to keep theology firmly rooted in the study of Scripture. The essays collected here respond thoughtfully and concretely to that charge, together demonstrating that exegesis is essential to the theological task and to faith for scholars, students, and the broader Church.

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    Jesus, Interpreted
    Matthew J. Ramage
    Catholic University of America Press, 2017
    In this sequel volume to his Dark Passages of the Bible (CUA Press, 2013), author Matthew Ramage turns his attention from the Old to the New Testament, now tackling truth claims bearing directly on the heart of the Christian faith cast into doubt by contemporary New Testament scholarship: Did God become man in Jesus, or did the first Christians make Jesus into God? Was Jesus' resurrection a historical event, or rather a myth fabricated by the early Church? Will Jesus indeed return to earth on the last day, or was this merely the naïve expectation of ancient believers that reasonable people today ought to abandon?

    front cover of Jewish Biblical Exegesis from Islamic Lands
    Jewish Biblical Exegesis from Islamic Lands
    The Medieval Period
    Meira Polliack
    SBL Press, 2019

    An accessible point of entry into the rich medieval religious landscape of Jewish biblical exegesis s

    Medieval Judeo-Arabic translations of the Hebrew Bible and their commentaries provide a rich source for understanding a formative period in the intellectual, literary, and cultural history and heritage of Jews in Islamic lands. The carefully selected texts in this volume offer intriguing insight into Arabic translations and commentaries by Rabbanite and Karaite Jewish exegetes from the tenth to the twelfth centuries CE, arranged according to the three divisions of the Torah, the Former and Latter Prophets, and the Writings. Each text is embedded within an essay discussing its exegetical context, reception, and contribution.


    • Focus on underrepresented medieval Jewish commentators of the Eastern world
    • A list of additional resources, including major Judeo-Arabic commentators in the medieval period
    • Previously unpublished texts from the Cairo Geniza

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    Judaism's Theological Voice
    The Melody of the Talmud
    Jacob Neusner
    University of Chicago Press, 1995
    Distinguished historian of Judaism Jacob Neusner here ventures for the first time into constructive theology. Taking the everyday life of contemporary Judaism as his beginning, Neusner asks when in the life of the living faith of the Torah does Israel, the holy community, meet God? Where does the meeting take place? What is the medium of the encounter?

    In his attempt to answer these questions, Neusner sets forth the character and the form of the Torah as sung theology. Israel, the holy community, meets God in the synagogue, while at prayer, and in the yeshiva, when studying the Torah—at the moment in each setting when the Torah is received. In both circumstances people do not read but sing out its words. With the written part of the Torah sung in the synagogue, and the oral part declaimed in centers of sacred learning, music provides the medium for Judaism's theological voice.

    Neusner identifies a reciprocal exchange between the holy community Israel and God: Israel sings to God when the Torah is studied, and God sings to Israel when the Torah is declaimed. Through the metaphor of music, Neusner offers an account of how he believes those faithful to the Torah meet God in the Torah, and how they should listen to the melody of God's self-revelation. The result is an original theological reflection that will interest all students of Judaism.

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    Knowing, Seeing, Being
    Jonathan Edwards, Emily Dickinson, Marianne Moore, and the American Typological Tradition
    Jennifer L. Leader
    University of Massachusetts Press, 2016
    Scholars no longer see Jonathan Edwards as the fire-and-brimstone preacher who deemed his parishioners “sinners in the hands of an angry god.” Edwards now figures as caring and socially conscious and exerts increased influence as a philosopher of the American school of Protestantism. In this study, he becomes the progenitor of an alternative tradition in American letters. In Knowing, Seeing, Being, Jennifer L. Leader argues that Edwards, the nineteenth-century poet Emily Dickinson, and the twentieth-century poet Marianne Moore share a heretofore underrecognized set of religious and philosophical preoccupations. She contends that they represent an alternative tradition within American literature, one that differs from Transcendentalism and is grounded in Reformed Protestantism and its ways of reading and interpreting the King James Bible and the natural world. According to Leader, these three writers’ most significant commonality is the Protestant tradition of typology, a rigorous mode of interpreting scripture and nature through which certain figures or phenomena are read as the fulfillment of prophecy and of God’s work. Following from their similar ways of reading, they also share philosophical and spiritual questions about language, epistemology (knowing), perception (seeing), and physical and spiritual ontology (being). In connecting Edwards to these two poets, in exploring each writer’s typological imagination, and through a series of insightful readings, this innovative book reevaluates three major figures in American intellectual and literary history and compels a reconsideration of these writers and their legacies.

    front cover of Latino/a Biblical Hermeneutics
    Latino/a Biblical Hermeneutics
    Problematics, Objectives, Strategies
    Francisco Lozada Jr.
    SBL Press, 2014

    Engage essays that are profoundly theological and resolutely social

    In this collection of essays, contributors seek to analyze the vision of the critical task espoused by Latino/a critics. The project explores how such critics approach their vocation as critics in the light of their identity as members of the Latino/a experience and reality. A variety of critics—representing a broad spectrum of the Latino/a American formation, along various axes of identity—address the question in whatever way they deem appropriate: What does it mean to be a Latino/a critic?


    • Essays from sixteen scholars
    • Articles bring together the fields of biblical studies and racial-ethnic studies
    • Conclusion addresses directions for future research

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    Lectures on Imagination
    Paul Ricoeur
    University of Chicago Press, 2024
    Ricoeur’s theory of productive imagination in previously unpublished lectures.

    The eminent philosopher Paul Ricoeur was devoted to the imagination. These previously unpublished lectures offer Ricoeur’s most significant and sustained reflections on creativity as he builds a new theory of imagination through close examination, moving from Aristotle, Pascal, Spinoza, Hume, and Kant to Ryle, Price, Wittgenstein, Husserl, and Sartre. These thinkers, he contends, underestimate humanity’s creative capacity. While the Western tradition generally views imagination as derived from the reproductive example of the image, Ricoeur develops a theory about the mind’s power to produce new realities. Modeled most clearly in fiction, this productive imagination, Ricoeur argues, is available across conceptual domains. His theory provocatively suggests that we are not constrained by existing political, social, and scientific structures. Rather, our imaginations have the power to break through our conceptual horizons and remake the world.

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    The Limits of Critique
    Rita Felski
    University of Chicago Press, 2015
    Why must critics unmask and demystify literary works? Why do they believe that language is always withholding some truth, that the critic’s task is to reveal the unsaid or repressed? In this book, Rita Felski examines critique, the dominant form of interpretation in literary studies, and situates it as but one method among many, a method with strong allure—but also definite limits.

    Felski argues that critique is a sensibility best captured by Paul Ricoeur’s phrase “the hermeneutics of suspicion.” She shows how this suspicion toward texts forecloses many potential readings while providing no guarantee of rigorous or radical thought. Instead, she suggests, literary scholars should try what she calls “postcritical reading”: rather than looking behind a text for hidden causes and motives, literary scholars should place themselves in front of it and reflect on what it suggests and makes possible.

    By bringing critique down to earth and exploring new modes of interpretation, The Limits of Critique offers a fresh approach to the relationship between artistic works and the social world.

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    Limits to Interpretation
    The Meanings of Anna Karenina
    Vladimir E. Alexandrov
    University of Wisconsin Press, 2017
    Vladimir E. Alexandrov advocates a broad revision of the academic study of literature, proposing an adaptive, text-specific approach designed to minimize the circularity of interpretation inherent in the act of reading. He illustrates this method with the example of Tolstoy's classic novel via a detailed "map" of the different possible readings that the novel can support. The novel Anna Karenina emerges as deeply conflicted, polyvalent, and quite unlike what one finds in other critical studies.

    front cover of Making Sense in Life and Literature
    Making Sense in Life and Literature
    Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht
    University of Minnesota Press, 1992

    “The translation of these essays by Gumbrecht on literary theory and history marks the appearance in English of one of Europe’s most learned, productive, and inventive scholars. Their range is extraordinary. They show that Gumbrecht is not only a sophisticated theorist and historian of literature, but a master practitioner of cultural studies.” --Hayden White, University of California, Santa Cruz


    front cover of Michel Foucault
    Michel Foucault
    Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics
    Hubert L. Dreyfus and Paul Rabinow
    University of Chicago Press, 1983
    This book, which Foucault himself has judged accurate, is the first to provide a sustained, coherent analysis of Foucault's work as a whole.

    To demonstrate the sense in which Foucault's work is beyond structuralism and hermeneutics, the authors unfold a careful, analytical exposition of his oeuvre. They argue that during the of Foucault's work became a sustained and largely successful effort to develop a new method—"interpretative analytics"—capable fo explaining both the logic of structuralism's claim to be an objective science and the apparent validity of the hermeneutical counterclaim that the human sciences can proceed only by understanding the deepest meaning of the subject and his tradition.

    "There are many new secondary sources [on Foucault]. None surpass the book by Hubert Dreyfus and Paul Rabinow. . . . The American paperback edition contains Foucault's 'On the Genealogy of Ethics,' a lucid interview that is now our best source for seeing how he construed the whole project of the history of sexuality."—David Hoy, London Review of Books

    front cover of Music in Renaissance Magic
    Music in Renaissance Magic
    Toward a Historiography of Others
    Gary Tomlinson
    University of Chicago Press, 1994
    Magic enjoyed a vigorous revival in sixteenth-century Europe, attaining a prestige lost for over a millennium and becoming, for some, a kind of universal philosophy. Renaissance music also suggested a form of universal knowledge through renewed interest in two ancient themes: the Pythagorean and Platonic "harmony of the celestial spheres" and the legendary effects of the music of bards like Orpheus, Arion, and David. In this climate, Renaissance philosophers drew many new and provocative connections between music and the occult sciences.

    In Music in Renaissance Magic, Gary Tomlinson describes some of these connections and offers a fresh view of the development of early modern thought in Italy. Raising issues essential to postmodern historiography—issues of cultural distance and our relationship to the others who inhabit our constructions of the past —Tomlinson provides a rich store of ideas for students of early modern culture, for musicologists, and for historians of philosophy, science, and religion.

    "A scholarly step toward a goal that many composers have aimed for: to rescue the idea of New Age Music—that music can promote spiritual well-being—from the New Ageists who have reduced it to a level of sonic wallpaper."—Kyle Gann, Village Voice

    "An exemplary piece of musical and intellectual history, of interest to all students of the Renaissance as well as musicologists. . . . The author deserves congratulations for introducing this new approach to the study of Renaissance music."—Peter Burke, NOTES

    "Gary Tomlinson's Music in Renaissance Magic: Toward a Historiography of Others examines the 'otherness' of magical cosmology. . . . [A] passionate, eloquently melancholy, and important book."—Anne Lake Prescott, Studies in English Literature

    front cover of A New Approach to Textual Criticism
    A New Approach to Textual Criticism
    An Introduction to the Coherence-Based Genealogical Method
    Tommy Wasserman
    SBL Press, 2017

    An essential introduction for scholars and students of New Testament Greek

    With the publication of the widely used 28th edition of Nestle-Aland’s Novum Testamentum Graece and the 5th edition of the United Bible Society Greek New Testament, a computer-assisted method known as the Coherence-Based Genealogical Method (CBGM) was used for the first time to determine the most valuable witnesses and establish the initial text. This book offers the first full-length, student-friendly introduction to this important new method. After setting out the method’s history, separate chapters clarify its key concepts, including genealogical coherence, textual flow diagrams, and the global stemma. Examples from across the New Testament are used to show how the method works in practice. The result is an essential introduction that will be of interest to students, translators, commentators, and anyone else who studies the Greek New Testament.


    • A clear explanation of how and why the text of the Greek New Testament is changing
    • Step-by-step guidance on how to use the CBGM in textual criticism
    • Diagrams, illustrations, and glossary of key terms

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    A New Republic of Letters
    Memory and Scholarship in the Age of Digital Reproduction
    Jerome McGann
    Harvard University Press, 2014

    A manifesto for the humanities in the digital age, A New Republic of Letters argues that the history of texts, together with the methods by which they are preserved and made available for interpretation, are the overriding subjects of humanist study in the twenty-first century. Theory and philosophy, which have grounded the humanities for decades, no longer suffice as an intellectual framework. Jerome McGann proposes we look instead to philology—a discipline which has been out of fashion for many decades but which models the concerns of digital humanities with surprising fidelity.

    For centuries, books have been the best way to preserve and transmit knowledge. But as libraries and museums digitize their archives and readers abandon paperbacks for tablet computers, digital media are replacing books as the repository of cultural memory. While both the mission of the humanities and its traditional modes of scholarship and critical study are the same, the digital environment is driving disciplines to work with new tools that require major, and often very difficult, institutional changes. Now more than ever, scholars need to recover the theory and method of philological investigation if the humanities are to meet their perennial commitments. Textual and editorial scholarship, often marginalized as a narrowly technical domain, should be made a priority of humanists’ attention.


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    On Interpretive Conflict
    John Frow
    University of Chicago Press, 2019
    “Interpretation” is a term that encompasses both the most esoteric and the most fundamental activities of our lives, from analyzing medical images to the million ways we perceive other people’s actions. Today, we also leave interpretation to the likes of web cookies, social media algorithms, and automated markets. But as John Frow shows in this thoughtfully argued book, there is much yet to do in clarifying how we understand the social organization of interpretation.
    On Interpretive Conflict delves into four case studies where sharply different sets of values come into play—gun control, anti-Semitism, the religious force of images, and climate change. In each case, Frow lays out the way these controversies unfold within interpretive regimes that establish what counts as an interpretable object and the protocols of evidence and proof that should govern it. Whether applied to a Shakespeare play or a Supreme Court case, interpretation, he argues, is at once rule-governed and inherently conflictual. Ambitious and provocative, On Interpretive Conflict will attract readers from across the humanities and beyond.

    front cover of The One by Whom Scandal Comes
    The One by Whom Scandal Comes
    René Girard (Translated by M. B. DeBevoise)
    Michigan State University Press, 2014
    “Why is there so much violence in our midst?” René Girard asks. “No question is more debated today. And none produces more disappointing answers.” In Girard’s mimetic theory it is the imitation of someone else’s desire that gives rise to conflict whenever the desired object cannot be shared. This mimetic rivalry, Girard argues, is responsible for the frequency and escalating intensity of human conflict. For Girard, human conflict comes not from the loss of reciprocity between humans but from the transition, imperceptible at first but then ever more rapid, from good to bad reciprocity. In this landmark text, Girard continues his study of violence in light of geopolitical competition, focusing on the roots and outcomes of violence across societies latent in the process of globalization. The volume concludes in a wide-ranging interview with the Sicilian cultural theorist Maria Stella Barberi, where Girard’s twenty-first century emphases on the continuity of all religions, global conflict, and the necessity of apocalyptic thinking emerge.

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    "The One Who Sows Bountifully"
    Essays in Honor of Stanley K. Stowers
    Caroline Johnson Hodge
    SBL Press, 2014

    This festschrift honors the work of Stanley K. Stowers, a renowned specialist in the field of Pauline studies and early Christianity, on the occasion of his sixty-fifth birthday and retirement from Brown University. The collection includes twenty-eight essays on theory and history of interpretation, Israelite religion and ancient Judaism, the Greco-Roman world, and early Christinity, a preface honoring Stowers, and a select bibliography of his publications.

    Contributors include: Adriana Destro, John T. Fitzgerald, John G. Gager, Caroline Johnson Hodge, Ross S. Kraemer, Saul M. Olyan, Mauro Pesce, Daniel Ullucci, Debra Scoggins Ballentine, William K. Gilders, David Konstan, Nathaniel B. Levtow, Jordan D. Rosenblum, Michael L. Satlow, Karen B. Stern, Emma Wasserman, Nathaniel DesRosiers, John S. Kloppenborg, Luther H. Martin, Arthur P. Urbano, L. Michael White, William Arnal, Pamela Eisenbaum, Troels Engberg-Pedersen, Karen L. King, Christopher R. Matthews, Erin Roberts, and Richard Wright.


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    Orientation and Judgment in Hermeneutics
    Rudolf A. Makkreel
    University of Chicago Press, 2015
    This book provides an innovative approach to meeting the challenges faced by philosophical hermeneutics in interpreting an ever-changing and multicultural world. Rudolf A. Makkreel proposes an orientational and reflective conception of interpretation in which judgment plays a central role. Moving beyond the dialogical approaches found in much of contemporary hermeneutics, he focuses instead on the diagnostic use of reflective judgment, not only to discern the differentiating features of the phenomena to be understood, but also to orient  us to the various meaning contexts that can frame their interpretation.
    Makkreel develops overlooked resources of Kant’s transcendental thought in order to reconceive hermeneutics as a critical inquiry into the appropriate contextual conditions of understanding and interpretation. He shows that a crucial task of hermeneutical critique is to establish priorities among the contexts that may be brought to bear on the interpretation of history and culture. The final chapter turns to the contemporary art scene and explores how orientational contexts can be reconfigured to respond to the ways in which media of communication are being transformed by digital technology. Altogether, Makkreel offers a promising way of thinking about the shifting contexts that we bring to bear on interpretations of all kinds, whether of texts, art works, or the world. 

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    Phenomenal Blackness
    Black Power, Philosophy, and Theory
    Mark Christian Thompson
    University of Chicago Press, 2022
    This unorthodox account of 1960s Black thought rigorously details the field’s debts to German critical theory and explores a forgotten tradition of Black singularity. 
    Phenomenal Blackness examines the changing interdisciplinary investments of key mid-century Black writers and thinkers, including the growing interest in German philosophy and critical theory. Mark Christian Thompson analyzes this shift in intellectual focus across the post-war decades, placing Black Power thought in a philosophical context.

    Prior to the 1960s, sociologically oriented thinkers such as W. E. B. Du Bois had understood Blackness as a singular set of socio-historical characteristics. In contrast, writers such as Amiri Baraka, James Baldwin, Angela Y. Davis, Eldridge Cleaver, and Malcolm X were drawn to notions of an African essence, an ontology of Black being. With these perspectives, literary language came to be seen as the primary social expression of Blackness. For this new way of thinking, the works of philosophers such as Adorno, Habermas, and Marcuse were a vital resource, allowing for continued cultural-materialist analysis while accommodating the hermeneutical aspects of Black religious thought. Thompson argues that these efforts to reimagine Black singularity led to a phenomenological understanding of Blackness—a “Black aesthetic dimension” wherein aspirational models for Black liberation might emerge.

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    Philosophy Between the Lines
    The Lost History of Esoteric Writing
    Arthur M. Melzer
    University of Chicago Press, 2014
    Philosophical esotericism—the practice of communicating one’s unorthodox thoughts “between the lines”—was a common practice until the end of the eighteenth century. The famous Encyclopédie of Diderot, for instance, not only discusses this practice in over twenty different articles, but admits to employing it itself. The history of Western thought contains hundreds of such statements by major philosophers testifying to the use of esoteric writing in their own work or others’. Despite this long and well-documented history, however, esotericism is often dismissed today as a rare occurrence. But by ignoring esotericism, we risk cutting ourselves off from a full understanding of Western philosophical thought.
    Arthur M. Melzer serves as our deeply knowledgeable guide in this capacious and engaging history of philosophical esotericism. Walking readers through both an ancient (Plato) and a modern (Machiavelli) esoteric work, he explains what esotericism is—and is not. It relies not on secret codes, but simply on a more intensive use of familiar rhetorical techniques like metaphor, irony, and insinuation. Melzer explores the various motives that led thinkers in different times and places to engage in this strange practice, while also exploring the motives that lead more recent thinkers not only to dislike and avoid this practice but to deny its very existence. In the book’s final section, “A Beginner’s Guide to Esoteric Reading,” Melzer turns to how we might once again cultivate the long-forgotten art of reading esoteric works.

    Philosophy Between the Lines is the first comprehensive, book-length study of the history and theoretical basis of philosophical esotericism, and it provides a crucial guide to how many major writings—philosophical, but also theological, political, and literary—were composed prior to the nineteenth century.

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    Philosophy Looks At The Arts
    Joseph Margolis
    Temple University Press, 1987

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    Philosophy's Violent Sacred
    Heidegger and Nietzsche through Mimetic Theory
    Duane Armitage
    Michigan State University Press, 2021
    Continental and postmodern thinking has misidentified the source of violence as originating from Western metaphysics. It has further failed to acknowledge the Judeo- Christian source of its ethic—the ethic of concern for victims. In this volume Duane Armitage attempts a critique of continental philosophy and postmodernism through the lens of René Girard’s mimetic theory. This critique is directed primarily at the philosophies of Nietzsche and Heidegger, both among the foremost representatives of continental and postmodern thought. Armitage argues that Girard’s engagement with Heidegger and Nietzsche radically alters many of the axioms of current postmodern continental philosophy, in particular the overcoming of metaphysics on the theoretical level and continental philosophy’s tacit commitments to (neo-)Marxism on the practical level. Detailed attention to the implications of Girard’s philosophical thought results in a paradigm shift that deals perhaps a deadly blow to continental and postmodern thinking. Armitage further argues that Girard’s thinking solves the very problems that continental and postmodern thinking sought (but failed) to solve, namely the problems of violence and victimization, particularly within the context of the aftermath of the Second World War. Ultimately, this volume shows that at the heart of postmodern thinking lies an entanglement with the violent sacred.

    front cover of The Place of Prejudice
    The Place of Prejudice
    A Case for Reasoning within the World
    Adam Adatto Sandel
    Harvard University Press, 2014

    Today we associate prejudice with ignorance and bigotry and consider it a source of injustice. So how can prejudice have a legitimate place in moral and political judgment? In this ambitious work, Adam Sandel shows that prejudice, properly understood, is not an unfortunate obstacle to clear thinking but an essential aspect of it. The aspiration to reason without preconceptions, he argues, is misguided.

    Ranging across philosophy from Aristotle to Heidegger and Gadamer, Sandel demonstrates that we inherit our "prejudice against prejudice" from the Enlightenment. By detaching reason from habit and common opinion, thinkers such as Bacon, Descartes, and Kant invented prejudice--as we understand it today--as an obstacle to freedom and a failure to think for oneself.

    The Place of Prejudice presents a powerful challenge to this picture. The attempt to purge understanding of culture and history leads not to truth, Sandel warns, but to shallowness and confusion. A purely detached notion of reason deprives judgment of all perspective, disparages political rhetoric as mere pandering, and denies us the background knowledge we need to interpret literature, law, and the past. In a clear, eloquent voice, Sandel presents instead a compelling case for reasoning within the world.


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    Plurality and Ambiguity
    Hermeneutics, Religion, Hope
    David Tracy
    University of Chicago Press, 1994
    In Plurality and Ambiguity, David Tracy lays the philosophical groundwork for a practical application of hermeneutics, while constructing an innovative model of theological interpretation developed out of the notions of conversation and argument. He concludes with an appraisal of the religious significance of hope in an age of radically different voices and constantly shifting meanings.

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    Readings in Interpretation
    Holderlin, Hegel, Heidegger
    Andrzej WarminskiIntroduction by Rodolphe Gasche
    University of Minnesota Press, 1987

    Readings in Interpretation was first published in 1987. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.

    Readings in Interpretation — a volume primarily on the texts of Holderlin, Hegel, and their interpreter Heidegger—locates itself strategically between literature and philosophy. In keeping with this juxtaposition, it treats the question of self-consciousness and reflection on the levels of "theme" and "text." For both Hegel and Holderlin, selfconsciousness and its relation to knowing are explicit themes, but Waminski's readings show that a more disruptive reflection is operative on the level of text.

    In an argument that centers on the textual aspects of Hegel's Phenomenology of the Spirit,Warminski demonstrates that the negative moment—which is often interpreted as a prelude to a unified self-consciousness—cannot be accounted for by interpretive models drawn from outside the text—by concepts like the self, consciousness, or the subject. Instead, a completely different practice and theory is necessary. The author's "Prefatory Postscript" at the beginning of the book therefore serves as an introduction to sketch the theoretical basis of the readings that follow and as a "postscript" that explains the difference between "reading" and "interpretation" which those readings make necessary.


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    The Rhetoric of Interpretation and the Interpretation of Rhetoric
    Paul Hernadi, ed.
    Duke University Press, 1989
    The essays collected in this volume strongly suggest that the principles and operations of contemporary rhetoric and contemporary interpretation invite being studied in conjunction with each other&mdash;that the are, as Paul Hernadi puts it, &quot;siamese twins.&quot; Furthermore, a number of the essays suggest that both rhetoric and interpretation ought to be studied in conjunction with the principles and operations characteristic of contemporary descriptions and critiques of ideology.

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    Sacred Attunement
    A Jewish Theology
    Michael Fishbane
    University of Chicago Press, 2008
    Contemporary theology, and Jewish theology in particular, Michael Fishbane asserts, now lies fallow, beset by strong critiques from within and without. For Jewish reality, a coherent and wide-ranging response in thoroughly modern terms is needed. Sacred Attunement is Fishbane’s attempt to renew Jewish theology for our time, in the larger context of modern and postmodern challenges to theology and theological thought in the broadest sense.
    The first part of the book regrounds theology in this setting and opens up new pathways through nature, art, and the theological dimension as a whole. In the second section, Fishbane introduces his hermeneutical theology—one grounded in the interpretation of scripture as a distinctly Jewish practice. The third section focuses on modes of self-cultivation for awakening and sustaining a covenant theology. The final section takes up questions of scripture, authority, belief, despair, and obligation as theological topics in their own right.
    The first full-scale Jewish theology in America since Abraham J. Heschel’s God in Search of Man and the first comprehensive Jewish philosophical theology since Franz Rosenzweig’s Star of Redemption, Sacred Attunement is a work of uncommon personal integrity and originality from one of the most distinguished scholars of Judaica in our time.

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    Speaking the Truth about Oneself
    Lectures at Victoria University, Toronto, 1982
    Michel Foucault
    University of Chicago Press, 2021
    Now in paperback, this collection of Foucault’s lectures traces the historical formation and contemporary significance of the hermeneutics of the self.

    Just before the summer of 1982, French philosopher Michel Foucault gave a series of lectures at Victoria University in Toronto. In these lectures, which were part of his project of writing a genealogy of the modern subject, he is concerned with the care and cultivation of the self, a theme that becomes central to the second, third, and fourth volumes of his History of Sexuality. Foucault had always been interested in the question of how constellations of knowledge and power produce and shape subjects, and in the last phase of his life, he became especially interested not only in how subjects are formed by these forces but in how they ethically constitute themselves.

    In this lecture series and accompanying seminar, Foucault focuses on antiquity, starting with classical Greece, the early Roman empire, and concluding with Christian monasticism in the fourth and fifth centuries AD. Foucault traces the development of a new kind of verbal practice—“speaking the truth about oneself”—in which the subject increasingly comes to be defined by its inner thoughts and desires. He deemed this new form of “hermeneutical” subjectivity important not just for historical reasons, but also due to its enduring significance in modern society.

    front cover of The Specter of Relativism
    The Specter of Relativism
    Truth, Dialogue, and Phronesis in Philosophical Hermeneutics
    Lawrence Schmidt
    Northwestern University Press, 1995
    Specter of Relativism addresses the timely topic of relativism from the perspective of Gadamer's hermeneutics. This collection of essays explores several of the key issues in contemporary philosophy—the nature of truth, the model of conversation, and the possibility of an ethics in postmodern conditions—in the context of the work of Gadamer. Although centered on Gadamer and including the first English translation of one of his essays, the volume does not narrowly define or defend the approach of philosophical hermeneutics; the contributors present a broad range of views, in some cases championing a Gadamerian perspective, in others challenging it. 

    front cover of Subjectivity and Lifeworld in Transcendental Phenomenology
    Subjectivity and Lifeworld in Transcendental Phenomenology
    Sebastian Luft
    Northwestern University Press, 2011
    Subjectivity and Lifeworld in Transcendental Phenomenology contributes to discussions about Edmund Husserl’s phenomenology in light of the ongoing publication of his manuscripts. It accounts for the historical origins and influence of the phenomenological project by articulating Husserl's relationship to authors who came before and after him. Finally, it argues for the viability of the phenomenological project as conceived by Husserl in his later years, showing that Husserlian phenomenology is not exhausted in its early, Cartesian perspective, which is indeed its weakest and most vulnerable perspective. Rather, Sebastian Luft convincingly argues, Husserlian phenomenology is a robust and philosophically necessary approach when considered from its late, hermeneutic perspective.

    The key point Luft brings into focus is that Husserl's hermeneutic phenomenology is distinct from other hermeneutic philosophers', namely Ernst Cassirer, Martin Heidegger, and Hans-Georg Gadamer. Unlike them, Husserl's focus centers on the work subjects must do in order to uncover the prejudices that guide their unreflective relationship to the world. Luft also demonstrates that there is a deep consistency within Husserl's own writings—from early to late—around the guiding themes of the natural attitude, the need and function of the epoché, and the split between egos, where the transcendental self (distinct from the natural self) is seen as the fundamental ability we all have to inquire into the genesis of our tradition-laden attitudes toward the world.

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    Swedenborg and Esoteric Islam
    Swedenborg Foundation Publishers, 1995

    This volume makes two essays by Henry Corbin, the eminent French scholar of Islam, available in English for the first time. Although his primary interest was the esoteric tradition of Islam, Corbin was also a lifelong student of the theological works of Emanuel Swedenborg. The first essay, "Mundus Imaginalis, or The Imaginary and the Imaginal," clarifies Corbin's use of the term he coined, mundus imaginalis, or "the imaginal world." This important concept appears in both Swedenborgian and esoteric Islamic spirituality. The second piece, "Comparative Spiritual Hermeneutics," compares the revelation of the internal sense of the sacred boks of two distinct religions, Christianity and Islam.


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    The Tao and the Logos
    Literary Hermeneutics, East and West
    Longxi Zhang
    Duke University Press, 1992
    Questions of the nature of understanding and interpretation—hermeneutics—are fundamental in human life, though historically Westerners have tended to consider these questions within a purely Western context. In this comparative study, Zhang Longxi investigates the metaphorical nature of poetic language, highlighting the central figures of reality and meaning in both Eastern and Western thought: the Tao and the Logos. The author develops a powerful cross-cultural and interdisciplinary hermeneutic analysis that relates individual works of literature not only to their respective cultures, but to a combined worldview where East meets West.
    Zhang's book brings together philosophy and literature, theory and practical criticism, the Western and the non-Western in defining common ground on which East and West may come to a mutual understanding. He provides commentary on the rich traditions of poetry and poetics in ancient China; equally illuminating are Zhang's astute analyses of Western poets such as Rilke, Shakespeare, and Mallarmé and his critical engagement with the work of Foucault, Derrida, and de Man, among others.
    Wide-ranging and learned, this definitive work in East-West comparative poetics and the hermeneutic tradition will be of interest to specialists in comparative literature, philosophy, literary theory, poetry and poetics, and Chinese literature and history.

    front cover of The Task of the Interpreter
    The Task of the Interpreter
    Text, Meaning, and Negotiation
    Pol Vandevelde
    University of Pittsburgh Press, 2005
    The Task of the Interpreter offers a new approach to what it means to interpret a text, and reconciles the possibility of multiple interpretations with the need to consider the author’s intention.  Vandevelde argues that interpretation is both an act and an event:  It is an act in that interpreters, through the statements they make, implicitly commit themselves to justifying their positions, if prompted.  It is an event in that interpreters are situated in a cultural and historical framework and come to a text with questions, concerns, and methods of which they are not fully conscious.  These two aspects make interpretation a negotiation of meaning. The Task of the Interpreter provides an interdisciplinary investigation of textual interpretation including biblical hermeneutics (Gregory the Great’s Homilies on Ezekiel), translation (Homer’s The Odyssey), and literary fictions (Grass’s Dog Years and Sabato’s On Heroes and Tombs).  Vandevelde’s philosophical discussion will appeal to theorists of both continental and analytical/pragmatic traditions.

    front cover of The Tenets of Cognitive Existentialism
    The Tenets of Cognitive Existentialism
    Dimitri Ginev
    Ohio University Press, 2011

    In The Tenets of Cognitive Existentialism, Dimitri Ginev draws on developments in hermeneutic phenomenology and other programs in hermeneutic philosophy to inform an interpretative approach to scientific practices. At stake is the question of whether it is possible to integrate forms of reflection upon the ontological difference in the cognitive structure of scientific research. A positive answer would have implied a proof that (pace Heidegger) “science is able to think.” This book is an extended version of such a proof. Against those who claim that modern science is doomed to be exclusively committed to the nexus of objectivism and instrumental rationality, the interpretative theory of scientific practices reveals science’s potentiality of hermeneutic self-reflection. Scientific research that takes into consideration the ontological difference has resources to enter into a dialogue with Nature.

    Ginev offers a critique of postmodern tendencies in the philosophy of science, and sets out arguments for a feminist hermeneutics of scientific research.


    front cover of Theology of the Hebrew Bible, Volume 1
    Theology of the Hebrew Bible, Volume 1
    Methodological Studies
    Marvin A. Sweeney
    SBL Press, 2019

    Diverse approaches to biblical theology

    This volume presents a collection of studies on the methodology for conceiving the theological interpretation of the Hebrew Bible among Jews and Christians as well as the treatment of key issues such as creation, the land of Israel, and divine absence. Contributors include Georg Fischer, SJ, David Frankel, Benjamin J. M. Johnson, Soo J. Kim, Wonil Kim, Jacqueline E. Lapsley, Julia M. O’Brien, Dalit Rom-Shiloni, Marvin A. Sweeney, and Andrea L. Weiss.


    • Examination of metaphor, repentance, and shame in the presence of God
    • Ten essays addressing the nature of biblical theology from a Jewish, Christian, or critical perspective
    • Discussion of the changes that have taken place in the field of biblical theology since World War II

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    Thinking Biblically
    Exegetical and Hermeneutical Studies
    André LaCocque and Paul Ricoeur
    University of Chicago Press, 1998
    Unparalled in its poetry, richness, and religious and historical significance, the Hebrew Bible has been the site and center of countless commentaries, perhaps none as unique as Thinking Biblically. This remarkable collaboration sets the words of a distinguished biblical scholar, André LaCocque, and those of a leading philosopher, Paul Ricoeur, in dialogue around six crucial passages from the Old Testament: the story of Adam and Eve; the commandment "thou shalt not kill"; the valley of dry bones passage from Ezekiel; Psalm 22; the Song of Songs; and the naming of God in Exodus 3:14. Commenting on these texts, LaCocque and Ricoeur provide a wealth of new insights into the meaning of the different genres of the Old Testament as these made their way into and were transformed by the New Testament.

    LaCocque's commentaries employ a historical-critical method that takes into account archaeological, philological, and historical research. LaCocque includes in his essays historical information about the dynamic tradition of reading scripture, opening his exegesis to developments and enrichments subsequent to the production of the original literary text. Ricoeur also takes into account the relation between the texts and the historical communities that read and interpreted them, but he broadens his scope to include philosophical speculation. His commentaries highlight the metaphorical structure of the passages and how they have served as catalysts for philosophical thinking from the Greeks to the modern age.

    This extraordinary literary and historical venture reads the Bible through two different but complementary lenses, revealing the familiar texts as vibrant, philosophically consequential, and unceasingly absorbing.

    front cover of The Unchanging Truth of God? Crucial Philosophical Issues for Theology
    The Unchanging Truth of God? Crucial Philosophical Issues for Theology
    Thomas G. Guarino
    Catholic University of America Press, 2021
    It has long been a cornerstone of Catholic belief that Christians can be intelligent and creative thinkers—inquisitive seekers after truth—as well as men and women of ardent faith. Catholics are entirely committed, then, to the claim that human rationality and religious faith are complementary realities since they are equally gifts of God. But understanding precisely how faith and reason cohere has not always been a smooth path. At times, theology has allowed philosophy to become the leading (and baleful) partner in the faith-reason relationship, thereby lapsing into rationalism or relativism. At other times, theology has been tempted by fideism, with philosophy now regarded as little more than a pernicious intruder corrupting Christian faith, life and thought. The essays in this volume display how Catholicism understands the proper confluence between philosophy and theology, between human rationality and Christian faith, between the natural order and supernatural grace. To illustrate these points, the book draws on a long line of Christian thinkers: Origen, Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas and, in our own day, Fides et Ratio of John Paul II and the Regensburg Address of Benedict XVI. How is theology always a “Jewgreek” enterprise—to borrow a term from Jacques Derrida—always a combination of the biblical (Hebraic) and philosophical (Hellenic) traditions? Why is one particular element of philosophy, metaphysics, essential for the intelligibility and clarity of Catholic theology? Why is this so much the case that John Paul II could state emphatically: “a philosophy which shuns metaphysics would be radically unsuited to the task of mediation in the understanding of Revelation”? But theology cannot simply be about dialogue with philosophers of yesteryear. Theology must constantly incorporate fresh thinking and remain in lively conversation with an extensive variety of contemporary perspectives. This book displays how reciprocity and absorption has been characteristic of theology’s past and must represent its future as well.

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