Nothing puts the spring in an author’s step quite like a positive book review (well, an ample royalty check might, but since I’ve never gotten one of those, I’m just speculating). Today’s Review of Biblical Literature brought news that Joel Green of Asbury Theological Seminary reviewed Faithful Interpretation this week, and his review (PDF only, I’m sorry, I’ve talked to them about it to no avail) makes a very favorable case for the book.
I’m dreadfully vain, but I’m not vain enough to quote the passages that gratified me most. I will observe — I hope not defensively — that most of Joel’s challenges relate to the problem of interpretive difference, about which we evidently hold very disparate positions. Joel, charitably, identifies these as problems that I “[have] not satisfactorily addressed.” From the perspective I’ve drafted in these essays, that recognizes bounded diversity as both a datum and a positive good, there’s no pressing need to identify a method by which a community adjudicates conflicts over interpretation. Indeed, any such effort will arise from a particular interpretive location that other interpreters don’t share — so why would the dissidents abide by this hypothetical “rule for adjudication” in the first place?
But granted that Joel is examining a different part of the elephant from me, I greatly appreciate his thoughtful attention to the book. He does not, as others have done, accuse me of “hostility” to historical criticism, nor does he launch any cheap shots about postmodernism. His reservations involve real problems integral to the project itself. Although Joel had opportunity, possible theological motivation, and means to drop the hammer on my essays, he commends me and thinks along with me, and that’s about the most encouraging experience around.