Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Book Review: Graeme Goldsworthy, Gospel-Centered Hermeneutics

By Graeme Goldsworthy / IVP Academic

In Gospel Centered Hermeneutics, Graeme Goldsworthy's argues that evangelical contributions often do not give sufficient attention to the vital relationship between hermeneutics and theology, both systematic and biblical.

Therefore, Goldsworthy moves beyond a reiteration of typical arguments to concentrate on the theological questions and presuppositions, and their impact on the interpretive process and on their impact of our articulation of the gospel. In doing so, he brings fresh perspectives on some well-worn pathways.

Part I examines the foundations and presuppositions of evangelical belief, particularly with regard to biblical interpretation. Part II offers a selective overview of important hermeneutical developments from the Patristic era to the present, as a means of identifying some significant influences that have been alien to the gospel. Part III evaluates ways and means of reconstructing truly gospel-centered hermeneutics. Throughout Goldsworthy aims to commend the much-neglected role of biblical theology in hermeneutical practice, with pastoral concern for the people of God as they read, interpret and seek to live by his written Word.

There were many observations and conclusions in this book that I agree with and some others that I did not. Most importantly, however, this is a book that challenged me to think and for that reason I highly recommend it. This is a book that needed to be written and Goldsworthy skillfully illustrates how the theological and philosophical presuppositions of Biblical interpreters influence their interpretations. He does a marvelous job of placing the task of the exegete in its broader context. He recognizes that to focus simply on rules and methods while ignoring the broader worldview issues related to epistemology and ontology gives us an insufficient understanding of what hermeneutics really involves.

Other works may have more detail regarding practical application of the principals of interpretation but regarding the broader issues involved with Biblical interpretation this is the best thing I have read in nearly a decade. He too quickly (in my opinion) dismisses a plain hermeneutic for Old Testament passages in favor of a covenantal view of redemptive history but a careful consideration of his reasoning is something that those who hold other views will be challenged to respond to. Some of the material in the book may be difficult for those who do not have familiarity with certain theological and philosophical issues but it is written in a way that would allow it to perhaps serve as a launching pad into further study into those areas.

I highly recommend this book to any advanced student or any person who is interested in the relationship between theology/philosophy and Biblical interpretation. Like any human book it must be read critically but it is an excellent work and deserves to be widely read by those interested in the subject.

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