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672 CHRISTIANITY AND LITERATURE was more concerned about the delay in the Second Coming. And so the exegesis of Adam, Plutarch, and Ovid are only analogous to Paul'steaching: "IfAdam'ssoliloquy means anything, it shows that Milton, like other post-Reformation writers, had to rely on secular, Greco- Roman, and non -Pauline themes in order to give literary life to their version of Paul's theology" (160). This is typical of Kneidel's methodology. The literature chosen for explication is analyzed according to some framework (neo-Stoicism, property contracts, humanist rhetoric) that is only tangentially or analogously related to the universalist theology of Paul. Heterogeneous elements seem yoked together. The persuasiveness of the argument does not go much further than the following abstraction: "Thus English verse is to humanist poetics and the English nation is to human civilization as diverse members are to the mystical body of Christ" (73). Rethinking the Turn to Religion might be considered a learned book. There are excursions and diversions into many theological, cultural, and literary byways, but the overall argument of the book just does not cohere. William Gentrup Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies The Fullness ofKnowing: Modernity and Postmodernityfrom Defoe to Gadamer. ByDaniel E. Ritchie. Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2010. ISBN978-1-93279217 -1. Pp. ix + 281. $54.95. Daniel E. Ritchie's The Fullness of Knowing: Modernity and Postmodernity from Defoe to Gadamer attempts to connect epistemological questions raised by postmodernism to similar questions asked by eighteenth-century figures in response to the rise of the Enlightenment. Chapter five is an exception, however, as it compares the worst excesses of the French Revolution to what Ritchie believes are the worst excesses of the political correctness movement in U.S. universities. Ritchie's Fullness of Knowing is strongest in its treatment of eighteenth-century material and in exploring confluences between his eighteenth-century material and his twentieth, but weakest with his twentieth-century material, especially when he is engaged in polemic against it. Chapter one juxtaposes the epistemological conflicts surrounding Defoe's Robinson Crusoe with Lyotard's claims about knowledge in The Postmodern Condition and Rorty's later extension of these claims. The epistemological question considered in this chapter is about the nature of the truth provided by narrative. According to Ritchie, Enlightenment thinkers assume that each narrative's veracity is determined by its ability to contribute to and be understood within the confines of a metanarrative. This view is, of course, contradicted by Lyotard's and Rorty's BOOK REVIEWS 673 postmodern distrust of grand narratives. Ritchie considers whether or not Defoe's earlyclaim that Crusoe was real falsifiesall of its claims for truth and the implications of this question for Biblical interpretation. If a story is not demonstrably factual, thus contributing to a scientific grand narrative, can it still also be true? Enlightenment hermeneutics assert that "if Scripture is taken as literally true, it must also be historically verifiable" (12), leaving interpreters with a choice between defending the historical verifiability ofScripture or seeking a"nonhistorical meaning of the scriptural text, separate from its literal meaning, either in existentialism, myth, or religious experience" (12). Therefore, a narrative's "literal truth" must be "proven by empirical investigation undertaken by a detached, rational observer" for the narrative to have any value (17). According to Ritchie, Defoe's changing positions toward Robinson Crusoe's historicity model these options and illustrate the ways in which Enlightenment assumptions crippled Defoe's ability to understand the nature of his own achievement. Because Defoe initially claimed that Robinson Crusoe was a factual account, the first novel suggests that the "theological and personal" meanings that Crusoe derived from his experiences were "inseparable from his fictional, personal history" (10). Later, however, as Defoe had to back down from his claims about Robinson Crusoe's historicity in his sequels, he separated the "fictional 'history' of Crusoe's life" from its "meaning:' which to him was moral in nature (10). Ritchie is dissatisfied with Defoe's resolution of the crisis of Crusoe's historicity as it fails to acknowledge the possibility of a fictional narrative being true because, following the example of narrative theology, he "found his life story answering...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2056-5666
Print ISSN
0148-3331
Pages
pp. 672-676
Launched on MUSE
2020-02-04
Open Access
No
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