Saturday, February 16, 2008
Benson, Bruce Ellis. "You Have Heard It Said [on John Caputo's Latest]." CHRISTIANITY TODAY February 11, 2008.
Caputo takes particular aim at the ecclesiastical establishment, whether Protestant or Roman Catholic, arguing that their claims of following Jesus have been all too easily assumed. Jesus constantly rebuked the religious establishment of his own day. For example, Jesus' stinging rebuke of the Pharisees was that they burdened the people by substituting their own laws for those of God: Jesus says, "For the sake of your tradition, you make void the word of God. You hypocrites!" (Matt. 15:6 – 7). These are strong words of deconstruction. And Matthew's Sermon on the Mount is full of Jesus' refrain, "You have heard that it was said … but I say to you." So Jesus was constantly deconstructing prevailing views regarding the law, as well as expectations about what the Messiah was to accomplish. But wait: Isn't deconstruction the problem? I remember a chapel speaker at my institution who proclaimed that "deconstruction is the theory that says you can make texts mean anything you want them to mean." I admit that's a fairly standard definition of deconstruction, a French term resurrected and redefined by Jacques Derrida. Notoriously difficult to define, deconstruction is not a method or technique. Instead, insisted Derrida, it is the movement of truth coming to the surface. The movement itself is neither negative nor nihilistic, although there's no doubt that a great deal of mischief has been conducted under the banner of deconstruction, some of it simply silly and some downright evil. But deconstruction in its simplest meaning is the breaking apart of concepts or texts that reveals their component parts and structure, and allows for reconstruction. Deconstruction questions assumed interpretations and the presumption of institutions to be the rightful arbiters of meaning. As to his own deconstructive readings, Jacques Derrida is a model — if sometimes controversial — reader, and Caputo follows his example. Read the rest of the review here: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2008/februaryweb-only/107-12.0.html.