Under a Deadline

This afternoon, I had an email message and a phone call from my editor at Fortress. The requirements of production and marketing oblige me to propose my alternate title within twenty-four hours (actually, by now it’s down to around twenty-one).

Fortress put the project together under the name Faithful Subversion: Reading the Bible in a Postmodern World, which makes me uneasy; the “faithful” part stands to bother readers who might be attracted to “subversive” readings of the Bible, and vice versa. On the whole, I’d rather not invoke either of those words in the title.

The top half of the cover features a close-up of the central valley of an open book, over a flipped and reversed-out negative copy of the same image (on the lower half). Laura points out that this design “is looking for a two-word phrase that contains a paradox or other kind of surprising juxtaposition,” and I think she’s quite right. I tried Walk This Way on my editor, and he felt (and I agree) that it just doesn’t look quite right.

So the minutes are ticking away. Readers who know the kinds of thing I’m probably writing about, please rack your brains to help me out on this. I’m inclined to ask that the subtitle be changed to “Reasoning Biblically in a Postmodern World,” but apart from a title, the subtitle doesn’t matter much. A combination of “Interpreting” or “Meaning” or “Signifying” with something else would be especially welcome. I’ve had a project in mind for a long time which I’d expected to call “Representing the Truth”; maybe that title would work here. If I used my envisagted-future title for this book, it would make the second time I’ve had to draw on a title from a prospective work to identify an actual work; the publishers of my first book chose Making Sense of New Testament Theology as the title, when I had been hoping to save that for a later, different book.

If you can offer any help at this stage, please speak up (even if I don’t take your suggestion, it may jar loose the title I’m looking for from the logjam in my brain).

22 thoughts on “Under a Deadline

  1. Umm, let’s see, a two-word phrase that contains a paradox or other kind of surprising juxtaposition…

    Faithful Subversion does that pretty nicely. I’m sorry you don’t like it, because I think it’s quite interesting.

  2. Faithful Subversion, while irritating, is actually a rather good description of what you do.

    Please don’t use “reasoning” anywhere; the possible connection to enlightenment rationality, while stretched, is anathema for your project.

    Signifying Truth: Interpreting Biblically in a Postmodern World
    Signifying Truth: Theological Interpretation of Scripture for a Postmodern World

    Senses of Scripture: Signs, Meanings, Interpretations, Truth

    How Beautiful the Feet:

  3. I rather like Faithful Subversion, but I took a look though the thesaurus for alternatives to subversion. Combining those results with your other words, maybe:
    The Reformation of Meaning
    Undermining Significations
    Interpretations and Inversions
    Meaning Reversions
    Signifying Mischief

  4. Wow!

    A groundswell of support for Faithful Subversion!

    Well, keep ’em coming — and I’ll remember that so many people actually thought it was good.

  5. Let me try and quiet the ground swell. I can see the tension of Faithful Subversion. So let’s play with words for awhile. Sounds like a fun exercise.

    Initial Brainstorming results:
    Textual Transpositions
    Intussusception- a taking within (this word has possibilities)
    Intussuceptive Interpretation
    Intussuceptive Inveigling (better than interp. since interp. is so overused)
    All of these ideas look at internal thinking. much like “faithful” does. What if we took the ideas of departure instead?
    Expanding Horizons (corny, but a place to start)
    Super-Signification (again cheesy)
    Polysignificant Pilgrimage (this has potential)

    Alright, that is all for now. Hope it gets the creative juices bubbling.

  6. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of meaning, I fear no truth…

    is that too long?

  7. Black and White and Read All Over: Reading the Bible in a Postmodern World

    The Unwritten Word: …

    Faithful Subversion dosn’t really do it for me. How about reversing it? Subverting Faith:…

    Questioning Authority:…

    Subjective Certainty:…

    Doubtful Faith: …

    Faithful Doubt:…

    Actually, I like that last one best.

  8. I kind of like Faithful Subversion. How about Faithful Rebellion. Still within faith, but “rebelling” against a traditional reading of scripture.


  9. In a chat, Margaret and I produced Practicing Interpretation, which could then go well with Reasoning Biblically in a Postmodern World. We were a little uncomfortable with the Enlightenment overtones of “Reasoning,” but Steve Himmer pointed out in an email that “reasoning” sounds more active than “reading,” which seems right to me (I also like his suggesting something with a play on “meaning,” something like “Making Meaning Matter, but I bet Fortress wouldn’t go for it, especially with the illustration they’ve already paid for).

  10. Not that this is familiar territory, but the nice thing about Faithful Subversion etc. is that it lacks the tinny ring of pomo branding and grad school affectation. It manages to stand up to be about something and make that something seem both accessible and intriguing.


    Subversive Grace: Reading the Bible in a Postmodern World

    Dangerous Grace: etc.

  11. My ear prefers Biblical Reasoning in a Post Modern world. Let us know what you choose! Mom

  12. My first thought is that the image should be changed. Arrows pointing opposite directions would be sufficient illustration for Walk this Way. But if the image is set, I, too, thought of something like Darryl suggested … walking through the valley of the shadow of truth or some such. Or it could be shortened: Shadowing Truth? Truthing Shadows? Shades of Meaning? Shading Meaning? Nyeh.

  13. I think Biblical Reasoning (or Reasoning Biblically) in a Postmodern World sounds too aggressive, too opposed to postmodernism. It sounds like something that would be published by an evangelical press telling people how to use Bible verses to counteract all the evil social stuff coming out of New York and San Francisco!

    I like Faithful Subversion, but how about making faith the noun and therefore emphasizing it? Subversive Faith or Subversive Faithfulness?

  14. Faithful Mischief???
    Mischievous Faith??

    Upset Applecarts??

    Applecarts upset??

    upsetting faith??

    All riffs on a theme.
    Glad its you and not me!!

  15. Thanks, everyone, for your vigorous participation. My editor, who’s lurking rather than weighing in directly, appreciates the widespread support that his initial suggestion of Faithful Subversion has gotten. If I just won’t accept that title, though, he tosses a couple more into the pot:

    Sign and Wonder: Making Postmodern Sense of the Bible
    Representing Truth: A Postmodern Ethic for Reading the Bible

    to which I responded with

    Signs of Scripture: Reasoning Biblically in the Postmodern World

    But the saga continues for roughly another four hours, so get your two cents in before it’s too late.

  16. I like the Making Postmodern Sense of the Bible subtitle better than Biblical Reasoning. I agree that “reasoning” need not have strong Enlightenment connotations, but I do think Anna is right about the modifiers “biblical” or “biblically”–they tend to suggest a single, definitive way of reading or thinking that is characteristic of the book itself, a perspective sometimes set over against the alleged relativism of pomo thought. What about The Practice of Everyday Reading: Making Postmodern Sense of the Bible?

  17. I’m probably way to late — but any biblical book that uses the word “intussusception” is a winner with me. My daughter suffered from a bout of intussusception at five months old that nearly killed her. Of course, this makes my reasoning for any future purchase of said book highly personal and nobody else would get the joke.

  18. OK, everyone, suggestion time is over. I’ll consult Neil and get back to you.

    Thanks very much for your input.

  19. I was kinda partial to “Biblicious!” and tacking on any subtitle you like. While the tome is sure to be thoughtful, the book’s branding should embrace your joyful enthusiasm for this exploration.

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