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Hebrew Studies 41 (2000) 245 Reviews THINKING BIBLICALLY: EXEGETICAL AND HERMENEUTICAL STUDIES. By Andre LaCocque and Paul Ricoeur. pp. xix + 441. Chicago, il..: University of Chicago Press, 1998. Cloth, $30.00. This volume puts two scholars of differing backgrounds and interests -one a biblical scholar, the other a philosopher-into a unique dialogue on a series of biblical texts. Andre LaCocque is a moderately renowned biblical scholar who is now emeritus professor at Chicago Theological Seminary, and who formerly directed the Center of Jewish Christian Studies there. He has written a number of books in the field of biblical studies, most of which demonstrate a keen eye for detail and the ways in which such detail may be exploited by the interpreter in ways that challenge or even subvert time-honored generalizations about the Bible. Thus, most recently, his books The Feminine Unconventional: Four Subversive Figures in Israel's Tradition and Romance She Wrote: A Hermeneutical Essay on Song of Songs explore in lively and creative (and often idiosyncratic) ways the complexities of gender in biblical literature that arise only when one is willing to engage the texts in a close, exegetical manner. Paul Ricoeur taught for years at the University of Chicago, where he is now an emeritus professor in the Divinity School, the Department of Philosophy, and the Committee on Social Thought. With the deaths in the past few years of Emmanuel Levinas and Jean-Francois Lyotard, Ricoeur remains, along with Jacques Derrida, one of the last of a generation of highly influential French philosophers who, while initially steeped in phenomenology , have moved beyond its borders and extended philosophy's reach into a variety of other disciplines. Ricoeur's many books include The Symbolism ofEvil, Freud and Philosophy, and The Conflict of Interpretations , and he is most well-known as a representative of the school of thought known as philosophical hermeneutics. The present book may be taken as an example of how the theoretical program of philosophical hermeneutics may play out in concrete ways. Though the term hermeneutics has come to apply in general to the interpretation of texts, it more specifically designates a philosophy of the relationship between past and present which was nurtured in Germany in the nineteenth century and gradually gained influence throughout Europe and the Americas during the latter half of this century. Friedrich Schleiermacher is usually considered the father of philosophical hermeneutics , and other major figures include Wilhelm Dilthey, Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger, and Hans-Georg Gadamer. According to phi- Hebrew Studies 41 (2000) 246 Reviews losophical henneneutics, an individual with certain experiences and questions , conditioned by the present, approaches a text or tradition from the past, which text or tradition then addresses the individual and answers those questions, causing that person to refonnulate his or her way of framing those questions. Each time the individual engages the text or tradition this interaction between past and present occurs, creating a circular dynamism (often referred to as the "henneneutical circle"). Meaning is thus created out of the dialogical, back and forth movement between what are essentially conversation partners. Thinking Biblically models this dialogical method in two ways. First, it demonstrates how a close engagement of biblical texts at an exegetical level may be put into conversation with a larger philosophical agenda that is in many ways far removed from the discernible concerns of the text But secondly, the way in which LaCocque and Ricoeur produced the book may itself be seen as exemplifying the henneneutical circle. For the authors tell us in their preface that their common work began with a close, exegetical reading by LaCocque, which Ricoeur then read and responded to. Both authors then "revised their respective contributions in such a way that the fInal redaction would yield a book in which each author's work took account of that of the other" (p. ix). It is this process-a sort of living henneneutical circle laid bare-that makes the book a unique and in many ways fascinating contribution to biblical interpretation, as readers are invited to speculate on the ways in which the horizon (to use Oadamer's tenn) of the exegete has been expanded by larger, philosophical concerns, and the...


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