Reading the bible with Richard Hooker
Hermeneutics, Reading the Bible With Richard Hooker (book), Eppley, Daniel, Hooker, Richard, 1553 or 1554-1600
Eppley’s book is ostensibly about hermeneutics in the sixteenth century, but it seems to be really concerned with the exercise of authority in the church, and not necessarily in the sixteenth century. His stated intention: “I will suggest that an approach to interpreting Scripture put forward in the sixteenth century can serve as a model for modern interpreters. Indeed, this exploration of Hooker’s thought can be understood as presenting [an] alternative…to fundamentalist reading practices” (xxx), also reveals an implicit polemic. Contemporary American fundamentalists and biblical literalists are cast as Hooker’s Puritan and Presbyterian opponents, and Hooker becomes the champion of a cautious hermeneutic that humbly acknowledges the limitations of human understanding and Book Reviews 791 eschews the quest for certainty. The characterization of Hooker may not be inaccurate, but Eppley’s own tendency to identify with one side in an historical struggle and vilify the other, as when he can imagine an author’s sigh of exasperation (158), is a bit much. I would hate to think we cannot enter into conversation with historical figures and learn from them, but in so doing we must be careful that we do not pick up their prejudices or foist our own upon them.
Garstad, Benjamin, review of Reading the bible with Richard Hooker by Daniel Eppley. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2016. The Sixteenth Century Journal 48 (2017) 790-92.
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