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«_ A Dissertation Presented to the Faculty of the School of Theology Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary Fort Worth, Texas _ In Partial ...»

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According to Derrida, the movement of différance overturns “all theologies.”144 Because no transcendental signified exists, he rejects “la religion du vivant” as a tautology which creates “impératif absolu, loi sainte, loi du salut: sauver le vivant comme l’intact, l’indemne, le sauf (heilig).”145 Derrida verifies his critique against all J. Derrida, Writing and Difference, 25.

Jacques Derrida, Dissemination, trans. Barbara Johnson (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981), 221;

idem. Positions, 43. Such terms include pharmakon (neither remedy nor poison), supplément (neither accident nor essence), and hymen (neither consummation nor virginity).

Morny Joy, “Derrida and Ricoeur: A Case of Mistaken Identity (and Difference),” Journal of Religion 68 (October 1988): 514.

Jacques Derrida, Margins of Philosophy, trans.

Alan Bass (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982), 67.

Jacques Derrida, “Foi et savoir -- Les deux sources de la ‘religion’ aux limites de la simple raison,” in La religion, eds. Jacques Derrida and Gianni Vattimo (Paris: Seuil, 1996), 65-66. He rejects the “religion of theologies in his study of Babel.146 Derrida views the use of the proper name as the promotion of “logocentrism” -that there is a stable connection between the world and language.147 The result of Derrida’s interpretation of Babel, where Babel (confusion) is the proper name for God, is that logocentrism itself is confusion and that “determinate textual interpretation is impossible.”148 Ingraffia presents Derrida’s hermeneutic in a theological fashion when he writes: “Instead of the Logos calling humanity into being, humanity calls God into being.”149 Derrida, therefore, promotes a hermeneutic which dismisses meaning as indeterminable. Instead, meaning moves through the arbitration of différance in the reading and writing of the individual.

Unlike the postmodern hermeneutics of Fish, Rorty, the living” which creates “absolute command, holy law, law of salvation: to save the living as the whole, the protected against harm, the set apart (holy).” See chapter 2, “Beyond Babel: Epistemology and eJtevrai~ glwvssai~,” for more on Derrida’s use of Babel.

Geoffrey Bennington and Jacques Derrida, Jacques Derrida (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993), 105.

Craig Bartholomew, “Babel and Derrida:

Postmodernism, Language and Biblical Interpretation,” Tyndale Bulletin 49 (November 1998): 324.

Brian Ingraffia, Postmodern Theory and Biblical Theology: Vanquishing God’s Shadow (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), 223.

or Derrida, an apostolic approach to hermeneutics seeks to transform the postmodern worldview to match the apostolic worldview. Scripture interprets the postmodern person’s life so that he or she may be free “to be fully human.”150 Derrida, Rorty, and Fish pursue a hermeneutic which rejects the pretension that exegesis can lead to a “correct view of things.”151 Yet, encounters with Scripture impinge certain expectations and demands upon the interpreter.152 Clarence Walhout, following Alvin Plantinga, proposes that “our hermeneutics needs to be grounded in our warranted beliefs.”153 In an apostolic approach, these “warranted beliefs” emerge from the text of Scripture (the design plan) as it is interpreted in the “cognitive environment” of the N. T. Wright, “How Can the Bible Be Authoritative?,” Vox Evangelica 21 (1991): 16; quoted in B.

Walsh, “Reimaging Biblical Authority,” 211.

Vanhoozer, Is There a Meaning in This Text?, 22.

Thomas Long, Preaching and the Literary Forms of the Bible (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1989), 29. Thomas Long writes that “encounters with Scripture itself have built up in the community of faith the expectation of Scripture’s special character, rather than the other way around.” Lundin, Walhout, Thiselton, Promise of Hermeneutics, 99. Alvin Plantinga, Warrant: The Current Debate (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), 213.

Plantinga proposes “warranted beliefs” which are based upon “design plan” and “proper function.” He writes: “A thing (organism, organ, system, artifact) is functioning properly when it functions in accord with its design plan, and the design plan of a thing is a specification of the way in which a thing functions when it is functioning properly.” apostolic community.154 Grenz and Franke similarly propose the concept of “interpretive framework,” which is “that set of categories, beliefs, and values... which forms one’s perception of reality and life.”155 The Spirit forms a “communal interpretive framework” through the biblical text that leads individuals to view “all reality in light of an unabashedly Christian and specifically biblical interpretive framework.”156 Postmodern hermeneutics presents the primacy of the social context and the interminable play of language as the arbiter or arbitration of meaning in the hermeneutical process.157 Rather than dismissing or veiling authorial intention, this writer suggests that the Spirit illumines the reader of Scripture so that the meaning of the author’s intention is accessible.

Following Wolterstorff’s suggestion of “double Alvin Plantinga, Warrant and Proper Funtion (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), 82. Plantinga writes that “the design plan does not cover my cognitive faculties in isolation from yours or yours from mine.” Grenz and Franke, Beyond Foundationalism, 81.





Ibid.; James Barr, The Scope and Authority of the Bible (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1980), 126-27.

K. Vanhoozer, Is There a Meaning in This Text?, 168.

agency discourse,” this writer proposes that the Spirit speaks to the reader through the “appropriated discourse” of the biblical authors.158 Grenz and Franke propose that the Spirit appropriates Scripture “in its internal meaning (i.e., to appropriate what the author said).”159 Vanhoozer proposes the same concept when he suggests that the Spirit does not “change” meaning but “charges” it with relevance “by relating the original content to new contexts.”160 Illumination actualizes th`/ didach`/ tw`n ajpostovlwn in the postmodern setting. In the words of Grenz and Franke, “the Spirit speaks to succeeding generations of Christians through the text.”161 Pinnock warns against the postmodern hermeneutics by which the reader transforms the text and commends illumination by which the Spirit transforms the reader through Scripture.162 Grenz and Franke warn that

Nicholas Wolterstorff, Divine Discourse:

Philosophical Reflections on the Claim That God Speaks (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), 38-54.

S. Grenz and J. Franke, Beyond Foundationalism, 73-75. Grenz and Franke, however, critique Wolterstorff’s proposal in terms of authorial intention, which they claim is a “modern tendency to elevate some other reality [the author] above the Bible as text.” K. Vanhoozer, Is There a Meaning in This Text?, 409-415, 421.

Grenz and Franke, Beyond Foundationalism, 66.

Clark Pinnock, “The Role of the Spirit in Interpretation,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological illumination leads to subjectivism when biblical authority is reduced “to our subjective reception of the divine address.”163

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In consideration of this passage, Fuller asserts that unbelievers may understand spiritual things, but cannot welcome the spiritual without the work of the Spirit.164 Erickson, however, suggests that “without the help of the Holy Spirit, they [yuciko;~ a[nqrwpo~] are unable to understand them [ta; tou~ pneuvmato~ tou` qeou`].”165 Unlike Fuller, Erickson indicates that only the believer can understand the objective meaning of Scripture through the work of the Spirit in illumination. Erickson indicates that the Spirit of truth elucidates the truth for the apostles and through Society 26 (December 1993): 494-95.

Grenz and Franke, Beyond Foundationalism, 67.

Daniel P. Fuller, “The Holy Spirit’s Role in Biblical Interpretation,” in Scripture, Tradition, and Interpretation, eds. W. W. Gasque and W. S. LaSor (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1978), 191-92. He draws this conclusion from the meaning of three key terms: devcomai, ginwvskw, and ajnakrivnw. The first verb, devcomai, suggests to Fuller that the “natural man does not welcome the things of the Spirit of God.” The second verb, ginwvskw, indicates that the yuciko;~ a[nqrwpo~ does not embrace ta; tou~ pneuvmato~ tou` qeou` “as they really are.” The third verb, ajnakrivnw, reveals that the yuciko;~ a[nqrwpo~ cannot evaluate spiritual things.

M. Erickson, Christian Theology, 274.

the apostles’ doctrine.166 In this way, the Spirit guides the community of faith into all truth through illumination.

As Clowney writes, “The Spirit who communicated through the apostles and prophets the deposit of sound doctrine (1 Tim 6:20, 21; 2 Tim 1:13) also works to illumine our understanding of the truth.”167 Following Vanhoozer, this writer proposes that the text of Scripture has the “mission of meaning.”168 Illumination is the “perlocutionary effect” of th`/ didach`/ tw`n ajpostovlwn by the Spirit.169 The Spirit of truth persuades and convinces the reader of the truth-claims of the Scripture.

As Vanhoozer writes, “The Spirit’s leading readers into all truth is a matter of nurturing a Pentecostal conversation about the correct interpretation of the Word’s past meaning and present significance.”170 Illumination does not present the Spirit as a rival author who leads individuals to deconstruct th`/ didach`/ tw`n ajpostovlwn, as with Derrida, or who

–  –  –

Rorty or Fish. The Spirit works in concert with Scripture to persuade the reader and produce a transformation.171 As meaning is “accomplished” in Jesus Christ (John 14:6), the Spirit illumines the believer “so that [the Word] can achieve its intended effect: meaning applied.”172 The Spirit’s illumination of Scripture presents the contemporary avenue for the transformation of worldviews in the postmodern context. Illumination in an apostolic hermeneutic is the application of th`/ didach`/ tw`n ajpostovlwn to believers through the Holy Spirit. The contemporary community of faith depends upon the work of the Spirit to lead postmodern people to know and apply what God’s desire.

As with the apostolic community in Acts 2:42, this “charismatic teaching” of the Spirit explains the “evident ‘enthusiasm’ and the sense of God’s transforming presence in the congregation.”173

–  –  –

Bernard Ramm, The Witness of the Spirit: An Essay on the Contemporary Relevance of the Internal Witness of the Holy Spirit (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1959), 125.

K. Vanhoozer, Is There a Meaning in This Text?, 429.

Max Turner, “The ‘Spirit of Prophecy’ as the Power of Israel’s Restoration and Witness,” in Witness to the Gospel: The Theology of Acts, eds. I. Howard Marshall and David Peterson (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998), 346.

–  –  –

Christian worldview continues through koinwniva (Acts 2:42).

Marshall indicates that koinwniva refers to “the holding of a common meal or to a common religious experience.”174 Conzelmann indicates that koinwniva is further defined by the sharing of property as well as the common life of the

–  –  –

koinwniva promotes a life of reciprocity in an intimate community of familial ties and friendship in Christ Jesus.176 In other words, koinwniva represents the ethos of the apostolic community. This ethos includes the activities of th`/ klavsei tou` a[rtou kai; tai`" proseucai`".177

–  –  –

consideration of koinwniva as participation in a “common I. Howard Marshall, The Acts of the Apostles, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1980; reprint, 1999), 83.

Hans Conzelmann, A Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles, trans. James Limburg, A. T. Kraabel, and D. H.

Juel, Hermeneia (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1987), 23.

John Elliott, “Temple versus Household in LukeActs: A Contrast in Social Institutions,” in The Social World of Luke-Acts: Models for Interpretation, ed. Jerome Neyrey (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1991), 236.

“The breaking of bread” and “prayers.” religious experience” suggests that th`/ klavsei tou` a[rtou and tai`" proseucai`" are elements in koinwniva.178 Table fellowship presents an avenue for the transformation of worldview in the postmodern setting. In an apostolic community, the table fellowship allows believers to remember the foundation of their community as the “body of Christ.”179 The celebration of the common meal actualizes the “fellowship of the individual church members in the unity of the body of Christ” for the church.180 Neyrey indicates that the ceremonial meal serves as a process to “bolster the boundaries defining a group or institution, even as they confirm established roles and

–  –  –

for Jewish ceremony opening a meal in which the host offers John B. Polhill, Acts, New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman, 1992), 119; Rudolf Pesch, Die Apostelgeschichte, Teilband I: Apg. 1-12, Evangelishe

Katholischer Kommentar zum Neuen Testament, 5 (Zürich:

Benziger Verlag, 1986), 70-71.

R. Michiels, “The ‘Model of Church’ in the First Christian Community of Jerusalem: Ideal and Reality,” Louvain Studies 10 (1985): 309-310.

Walter Schmithals, The Theology of the First Christians, trans. O. C. Dean Jr. (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1997), 188.

Jerome H. Neyrey, “Ceremonies in Luke-Acts: The Case of Meals and Table Fellowship,” in The Social World of Luke-Acts: Models for Interpretation, ed. Jerome H. Neyrey (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1991), 363.

a prayer of blessing and then distributes the provisions from God.182 Bruce indicates that this “regular observance” is the precursor to the Eucharist, in which the klavsi~ tou` a[rtou is a ceremonial celebration of Christ’s “brokenness in

–  –  –

the “exposition of Christ’s saving deed.”184 In turn, the meal strengthens the identity of the community as well as the participant’s role in the community.185 Through the common meal, the community celebrates the work of Christ.



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