In Narrative Theology and the Hermeneutical Virtues: Humility, Patience, Prudence, Jacob L. Goodson offers a philosophical analysis of the arguments and tendencies of Hans Frei's and Stanley Hauerwas' narrative theologies. Narrative theology names a way of doing theology and thinking theologically that is part of a greater movement called "the return to Scripture." The return to Scripture movement makes a case for Scripture as the proper object of study within Christian theology, philosophy of religion, and religious ethics. While thinkers within this movement agree that Scripture is the proper object of study within philosophy and religious studies, there is major disagreement over what the word "narrative" describes in narrative theology.
The Yale theologian, Hans Frei, argues that because Scripture is the proper object of study within Christian theology and the philosophy of religion, Scripture must be the exclusive object of study. To think theologically means paying as close attention as possible to the details of the biblical narratives in their "literal sense." Different from Frei's contentions, the Christian ethicist at Duke University, Stanley Hauerwas claims: if Scripture is the proper object of study within Christian theology, then the category of narrative teaches us that we ought to give our scholarly attention to the interpretations and performances of Scripture. Hauerwas emphasizes the continuity between the biblical narratives and the traditions of the church. This disagreement is best described as a hermeneutical one: Frei thinks that the primary place where interpretation happens is in the text; Hauerwas thinks that the primary place where interpretation occurs is in the community of interpreters.
In order to move beyond the dichotomy found between Frei's and Hauerwas' work, but to remain within the return to Scripture movement, Goodson constructs three hermeneutical virtues: humility, patience, and prudence. These virtues help professors and scholars within Christian theology, philosophy of religion, and religious ethics maintain objectivity in their fields of study.
Publisher: Lexington Books
Number of pages: 226
Weight: 463 g
Dimensions: 236 x 161 x 20 mm
This is an ambitious book, which situates narrative theology in the context of American pragmatism and argues the case for humility, patience, and prudence as the essential virtues of the engaged theologian. In the process Goodson gives trenchant readings of Spinoza and Locke, James and Peirce, John Howard Yoder and Benedict XVI. It is particularly valuable for the ways in which it brings together Hans Frei, Peter Ochs, Stanley Hauerwas, and Eugene Rogers as contemporary guides for those who would take seriously the "plain sense" of Scripture. -- G. Scott Davis, University of Richmond
In this brilliant and original study, two apparent opposites meet and find that they are even better together than they were part. On the one side are narrative theologians, the 'return to Scripture' movement in American religious thought, like Hans Frei and Stanley Hauerwas. On the other side are philosophers, specialists in the tradition of American pragmatism, like William James. Thanks to Jacob Goodson, we may now say that these are two sides of a philosophically and scripturally grounded ethics and of a philosophically grounded scriptural hermeneutics. It is a significant achievement that should attract careful attention from theologians, biblical scholars, and philosophers. Among its innovations are a new reading of William James' pragmatism as the basis for a scriptural hermeneutic; a convincing theo-philosophic dialogue among the writings of Thomas Aquinas, Hans Frei, and William James; a new reading of the theology of Stanley Hauerwas; and an ethics of humility, patience, and prudence for students of nature and Scripture alike. -- Peter Ochs, University of Virginia
Drawing on an extraordinary range of philosophical and theological scholarship, Goodson provides the best account yet of recent theological developments associated with the turn to narrative in theology. His analysis of my work taught me a great deal. That it did so is but an indication of Goodson's embodiment of the virtues of humility and patience, which he rightly argues are necessary for the reading of texts, and in particular, the text of Scripture. This is a major work. -- Stanley Hauerwas, Duke University Divinity School