31 January 2011

Book: An Intercultural Theory of Interpretation and Religion in the Public Sphere

Just published: Paul S. Chung, "The Cave and the Butterfly: An Intercultural Theory of Interpretation and Religion in the Public Sphere" (Wipf & Stock, January 2011):


Publisher's description: "This study offers an intercultural theory of interpretation and religion. It does so by bringing Western and East Asian traditions into dialogue regarding the nature of interpretation. The result of this innovative study is a theory of interpretation which integrates the socially embodied dimension of human life with the study of hermeneutics and religion in post-foundational and cross-cultural perspective. Toward this end, Paul Chung offers a constructive theology of divine speech-acts in a manner more amenable to the social-public sphere than other proposals. In all of this he deeply considers intercultural horizon of interpretation between West and East [sic] and its implications for a theology of interpretation. The result is a truly theological theory of interpretation that takes seriously the issues of intercultural studies and their intersection with Christian doctrine."

Endorsements: "Public Theology has become an extraordinarily challenging task that few can attain today. Paul Chung, who already has demonstrated sensitive and comprehensive readings of theology and philosophy through a Barthian/Bonhoefferian proficiency contributes a compelling approach in this volume. The public of theology is no longer mono-centric but multi-centric and Chung masterfully links the Western and Asian polarities. The coherency of his account does the reader great dialogical benefit. This volume is indeed a real achievement of East/West theology as it masterfully maintains the centrality of revelation through Jesus Christ. Public culture is rife with conflict and as such is reflective of its all-too-human condition as the massa perditionis. Chung shows how this condition of the human can be redemptively transformed through taking the Word of God with utmost hermeneutical seriousness." (Kurt Anders Richardson, McMaster University)

"This book transcends hermeneutics in any conventional sense. In response to the crisis of modern technological existence and the contradictions of global capitalism, Chung guides the reader on an intercultural quest for authentic and responsible humanity. The wisdom of the East reorients us to our place in the natural world, and the truth of the incarnate Word sends us into the public sphere to encounter God in the face of the least (Minjung). We are invited to open ourselves to the way of embodied emancipatory praxis." (Craig L. Nessan, Wartburg Theological Seminary)

"Paul Chung [...] joins contemporaries of antiquity: Plato (the Greek from the Western world and his metaphor of the cave) and Laozi (the Chinese from the Eastern world and his metaphor of the butterfly), and interprets them through the eyes of each other." (H. Martin Rumscheidt, Atlantic School of Theology)

Paul S. Chung is Associate Professor of Mission and World Christianity at Luther Seminary.

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