The Fall of Interpretation: Philosophical Foundations for a Creational Hermeneutic

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InterVarsity Press, 2000 - Philosophy - 228 pages
3 Reviews
Many philosophers of the past century have focused on the problem of hermeneutics. Theologians have shared this concern because of their interest in interpreting biblical texts. As postmodern critics have challenged the possibility of understanding any texts, the issue of how to respond has become acute.

Among myriad approaches to hermeneutics, both secular and Christian theorists have often assumed the same thing: that the need for interpretation is a lamentable, scandalous, even fallen affair. In an ideal world there would be no need for interpretation, since communication would be immediate, instantaneous and errorless.

James K. A. Smith, in this provocative book, cogently surveys contemporary hermeneutical discussion, identifying three traditions and how they understand interpretation. Traditional evangelicals Rex Koivisto and Richard Lints represent a present immediacy model. Wolfhart Pannenberg, Hans-Georg Gadamer and Jargen Habermas represent an eschatological immediacy model. And Martin Heidegger and Jacques Derrida represent a violent mediation model.

Questioning the foundational assumption that these secular and religious theories share, Smith deftly draws on and reworks Augustine's biblical understanding of the goodness of creation to propose a creational-pneumatic model of hermeneutics. In his words, such a hermeneutic "would link (Augustine's) insights on the temporality of human be-ing and language with his affirmation of the fundamental goodness creation: the result is an understanding of the status of interpretation as a 'creational task, ' a task which is constitutive of fortitude and thus not a 'labor' to be escaped or overcome. Such an 'interpretation ofinterpretation' revalues embodiment and ultimately ends in a ethical respect for difference as the gift of a creating God who loves difference and loves differently".


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Review: The Fall of the Interpretation: Philosophical Foundations for a Creational Hermeneutic

User Review  - Luis Branco - Goodreads

The author sets off with an interesting proposal, but ends up with a bad assumption. The prospect of the Eden is quite interesting theologically, but the author could not separate himself from Derrida ... Read full review

Review: The Fall of the Interpretation: Philosophical Foundations for a Creational Hermeneutic

User Review  - Monte Lee - Goodreads

Smith, James KA The Fall of Interpretation: Philosophical Foundations for a Creational Hermeneutic, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: BakerAcademic, 2012). When in His likeness, God created humankind, He ... Read full review


Interpretation fie the Pall
On the Categories Creation and Fall
In the Beginning
On InterpretationTranslation
The Fallenness of the Everyday
Heideggers Disclaimers
Reading the New Testament Otherwise Than Heidegger
Edcnic Violence
Toward a Creational Hermeneutic
Tbward a Creational Hermeneutic
The Ethics of Interpretation

A Hermeneutics of Fallenness

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About the author (2000)

James K. A. Smith (PhD, Villanova University) is professor of philosophy at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he also holds the Gary and Henrietta Byker Chair in Applied Reformed Theology and Worldview. He is the editor of "Comment "magazine. Smith has authored or edited many books, including" Imagining the Kingdom" and the "Christianity Today" Book Award winners "Who's Afraid of Postmodernism?" and "Desiring the Kingdom". He is also editor of the well-received The Church and Postmodern Culture series (

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