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The Future of the Word

An Eschatology of Reading

by Tiffany Eberle Kriner

Publication Year: 2014

In scripture, Jesus promises a future that potentially infuses all texts: “my words will not pass away” (Matt 24:28). This book argues that texts—even literary texts—, have an eschatology, too, a part in God’s purpose for the cosmos. They, with all creation, move toward participation in the new creation, in the Trinity’s expanding, creative love. This eschatological future for texts impacts how we understand meaning making, from the level of semiology to that of hermeneutics.

This book tells the story of how readers participate in the future of the word, the eschatology of texts. If texts have a future in the kingdom of God, then readers’ engagements with them—everything from preservation and utterance to translation, criticism, and call and response—can cultivate those futures in the love of the Trinity. Kriner explores how the fallenness and failures of texts, alongside readers’ own failures, while seeming to challenge the future of the word, ultimately point to reading as a posture of reconciliation, in which reader and text meet in the Maranatha of all text.

Published by: Augsburg Fortress Publishers

Praise, Title Page, Copyright Page, Dedication, Quote

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pp. xi-xxvi

On January 21, 2013, Barack Obama opened his second term as President of the United States with an oath sworn on a stack of Bibles—the travel Bible of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the personal Bible of Abraham Lincoln. News outlets discussed the...

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Introduction: The End of Reading

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pp. 1-36

The Joseph of the book of Genesis is both a dreamer and dream-reader, and even the briefest page-through of his tale suggests that the latter is more useful—certainly more lucrative—than the former. In his early life, Joseph dreams two big dreams, the grasping...

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1. The Future of the Word

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pp. 37-64

The writer of Matthew understands Jesus’ life in terms of texts.1 In his gospel, the writer links all of the major events, many of the major speeches, and several of the parable sequences to Old Testament scripture passages. Apparently, Jesus’ life is all about fulfilling...

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2. Reading for the Future of the Word

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pp. 65-106

In the last chapter, I showed how the book of Matthew depicts Jesus as bringing forward—cultivating, if you will—the future of the word, in part through the series of parables in Matthew 13. The last of the great assemblage that features the parable of the sower, the parable...

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Literary Scrivenings 1: Futures for the Living Dead

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pp. 107-150

The three sections of this book headed Scrivenings bring out literary texts to play with the theology. Engaging questions of how reading might participate in the becoming, meaning-making, and community-building futures of texts, these interpretations try out the...

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3. Evil and Judgment

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pp. 151-182

This book has been lit by the idea that the eschatological purpose of God for the cosmos includes texts, constituting and illuminating them—in part through our reading—with expanding love and meaning-making for the kingdom. But what about the dark side?...

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Literary Scrivenings 2: The Double Bind of Judgment

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pp. 183-210

The texts in this second section of scrivenings do not refer much to God’s judgment. There are judgments aplenty and even angels crashing through bedroom ceilings. But rather than considering God’s role in demarcating and eliminating evil, these stories take...

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4. Forgiving the Text

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pp. 211-234

In the gospel accounts, John the Baptist’s ministry rides the line between the necessity and difficulty of judgment. He is a baptizer known for unflinching denunciations and unhesitating warnings (Matt. 3:7). Yet when confronted with Jesus’ request for baptism...

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Literary Scrivenings 3: The Romance of Reconciliation

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pp. 235-274

An unlikely juxtaposition of novels works toward reconciliation and forgiveness in the final scrivenings and the conclusion of this book: Francine Rivers’s Redeeming Love (1991/1997), a Christian inspirational romance novel that retells the biblical book of Hosea in...

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pp. 275-292

This book has argued that texts’ meanings are founded on the future of the word of God, on the future of Christ, the word who became flesh. That eschatological future—the glorious plenitude of the community of the new creation—is texts’ expansion of meaning...

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pp. 293-296

If God has a future for texts and allows readers to participate in those futures, I suspect that participation starts pretty early in the process—from the first scrappy ideas through the long making. And so, I am grateful for the following readers and cultivators of this...


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pp. 297-320


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pp. 321-326

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9781451487657
E-ISBN-10: 1451487657
Print-ISBN-13: 9781451470321
Print-ISBN-10: 1451470320

Page Count: 224
Publication Year: 2014