Beyond the Impasse: The Promise of a Process Hermeneutic emerged from my two-decade “quest for a satisfying hermeneutic.” Even before I knew the word hermeneutics (definition-in-a-nutshell: the study of how we create meaning), I was deeply concerned to find a satisfactory methodology for reading texts. After studying a vast range of interpretative strategies in graduate school, I discovered the object of my quest in process philosophy’s understanding of perception and language.
In Part One of Beyond the Impasse, I describe the current impasse in hermeneutical studies in general, and biblical interpretation in particular. In Part Two, I demonstrate how the understanding of perception and language found in process philosophy can move us beyond this hermeneutical impasse. In Part Three, I illustrate the process hermeneutic I develop in Part Two by using this methodology to interpret some of the most difficult texts of the New Testament.
From the back cover:
Contemporary biblical scholarship has reached an impasse. The various programs for bridging the gap between ancient texts and their contemporary theological and ethical appropriation are often unsatisfactory at best and at worst even suspect in their results. We need an effective way to cross that bridge . . . or a new bridge. Ronald Farmer suggests that a “process hermeneutic” holds promise of moving biblical interpretation beyond the current impasse.
This is the first comprehensive introduction to a process hermeneutic. It is not, however, merely theoretical discussion, but moves from the side of biblical scholarship to develop a solid methodology for bridging the gap between text and life. Farmer applies his process hermeneutic to a difficult text—Revelation 4-5—and demonstrates this promising method in a piece of solid, responsible, and instructive interpretation.
“Ronald L. Farmer brings together a broad and discerning competence in the field of hermeneutics and a thorough grasp of the ‘constructive postmodern’ perspective of process philosophy. [The result] is a rich book which provides a thorough and perceptive introduction to hermeneutics from a process perspective.”
—William A. Beardslee, Emory University, Emeritus
When I was asked by the editorial board of the Chalice Commentaries for Today series to write the volume on the Revelation to John, I jumped at the chance. For years, my research had focused on hermeneutics and on early Jewish and Christian apocalyptic literature, so the invitation appeared tailor-made for me.
From the back cover:
Chalice Commentaries for Today are designed to help pastors, seminary students, and educated laity who are open to contemporary scholarship claim the Bible in their personal lives and in their engagement with crucial issues of our time. The aim of the series is to offer a better understanding of the biblical challenges to the values, beliefs, and behavior in today’s world as well as our own world’s challenges to the values, beliefs, and behavior in the biblical world.
“Ron Farmer brings current scholarly research, in a readable and non-technical format, to the contemporary ‘thinking Christian.’ Farmer examines the book of Revelation from a first-century perspective while at the same time showing that it has much to say to a twenty-first-century audience. Particularly noteworthy is Farmer’s insistence that contemporary readers do not need a key to break the code of this elusive book, but rather a willingness to participate imaginatively in the cosmic drama that John set before his early Christian readers. Farmer’s commentary is an important resource for Christians at a time when most ‘knowledge’ about the book of Revelation comes from popular fiction.”
—Paul B. Duff, The George Washington University
“The best response of ‘mainline’ Christianity to the wave of pop-eschatology sweeping the country is neither to ignore Revelation—effectively a sellout to the religious right—nor to show the errors of ‘rapture theology’ and the like, but to present a responsible interpretation of Revelation and other biblical apocalyptic literature. Ron Farmer’s commentary on Revelation is a welcome addition to the growing number of such books. It is written with clarity, with a concern to guide the reader to understand both the ancient meaning and its contemporary relevance, and with respect for both ancient text and modern world as belonging to God. This book will help readers to envision the symbolic universe communicated by Revelation, a powerful alternative world that is not an escape from the realities of the present, but a means of giving readers a new understanding of reality and their place within it to which God calls them.”
—M. Eugene Boring, Brite Divinity School
“This commentary represents a major contribution to understanding the Apocalypse today. A clear and concise application of process hermeneutics to the details of the text produces a sensible, well-informed discussion always in active conversation with other leading interpreters. His explanations of the significance of the text for today are always thoughtful and often provocative.”
—David L. Barr, Wright State University