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Genre and Interpretation, Part II

July 13, 2013

As usual, now that I’ve come up with an airtight argument, I’ve found something that might undermine it entirely. At the very least, this forces me to think differently about the arguments presented in “Genre and Interpretation.” This is from Gregory Alan Thornbury’s excellent book Recovering Classic Evangelicalism: Applying the Wisdom and Vision of Carl F.H. Henry

Although he is certainly right to raise the question of Henry’s hermeneutics, [Kevin] Vanhoozer seems disinterested in Henry’s fundamental concern in the context of his argument in GRA [God, Revelation and Authority]: if one makes the author’s intent supreme, and if one says the author’s intention was a genre other than historical and scientific accuracy, we have opened up a Pandora’s box. Once you make this move, Henry warns, you can take any problematic or disputed text in Scripture as a matter of genre confusion. As we will discuss later in this volume, this is precisely the interpretive move behind crucial abandonments of inerrancy in contemporary evangelicalism. So, for example, if you are uncomfortable saying that Genesis 1 literally reveals the way that God created the universe, don’t worry. Simply say that the author’s purpose was literary, poetic, or allegorical, and your problem is solved. This was Carl Henry’s fear, and he was right to be concerned–if not with Vanhoozer, then with others who do not possess the better angels of Kevin’s theological nature. (107)

By the way, this is a great book

5 Comments leave one →
  1. July 13, 2013 1:52 am

    This is actually a fully formed version of the seed of my intended response to you. I won’t necessarily attack the method, because I think it can be helpful, but I don’t think it can stand on its own; I’m sure you and Thornbury agree?

    • July 13, 2013 2:03 am

      I would say, with Thornbury, that you can’t simply point at a passage, say “genre” very loudly, and then think by doing that you can come up with whatever interpretation you want. If you are going to use genre analysis on a passage, then you need to provide some sort of warrant for your interpreting that passage in a specific genre–which, I think I am able to provide. And I would agree with Thornbury about inerrancy, of which I shall write more in the future.

  2. Brian Sherman permalink
    July 13, 2013 6:18 am

    Anybody know why House blog has not posted in such a long time?

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