Following Maps

“Knowing is neither a matter of building foundations nor of weaving webs but of following maps.  ‘Following maps’ is a better image because it recognizes the priority of the canonical text and its relationship to reality – just these maps – over one’s use or reading of it.  Moreover the drama of doctrine is precisely that of using the biblical maps to negotiate one’s walk on the way to truth and life.  The map calls attention to the fact that the church’s interpretive framework is canonical before it is communal.”

“At the same time, these maps or interpretive frameworks serve various real-life purposes.  Indeed, the whole purpose of the map is not simply to inform but to be useful.  In similar fashion, Scripture is neither a textbook of propositional truths that serves as the foundation for knowledge nor a narrative that relies on its position in the church’s web of belief for its meaning and truth.  Scripture is rather a canonical atlas: a collection of maps that variously render the way, the truth, and the life.”

Kevin Vanhoozer, Drama of Doctrine, p. 294.

By the way, Vanhoozer’s latest is out and it’s called Remythologizing Theology: Divine Action, Passion, and Authorship.  However, the price tag is so horribly high (over $100!!) I doubt it’ll be read much until the cost comes down.  I can’t wait!

shane lems

sunnyside wa

2 thoughts on “Following Maps”

  1. Trust me on this one: beg, borrow and/or steal since the price is justified (pun intended!) by the value of this masterpiece! This is the first ST I have encountered that: 1) Engages and explains current theologies (re the doctrine of God) so thoroughly that the reader may deeply understand both past and current theological issues without having to earn a PhD. in theology. 2) Presents the author’s theological convictions (Reformed) charitably yet unyieldingly. 3) After the prologue presents a “Gallery of Canonical Exhibits” (p 36ff;) meaning a presentation and commentary on key biblical passages that both frame the author’s thesis and act as sentinels against the positions with which said author takes issue (unlike most ST’s I have read that simply throw in a biblical quote here and there at various junctures). Here’s a teaser: “God is the Lord of his self-presentation, the ultimate author of the biblical mythos. Scripture presents God as a communicative agent who does things by speaking in words and by sending his Word. Each biblical form that contributes to the mythos is itself a thing God has made. Biblical reasoning, the formal principle of remythologizing, involves the conceptual elaboration of the form and content of the Bible, itself a means of divine communicative action. This involves not merely thinking about but with and through the various voices and forms that constitute the Bible. Remythologizers therefore approach the Bible less as an object of critical analysis than as a set of literary lenses through which to perceive the contours of reality and discern the acts of God. (477). Tolle Lege!!!


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