Ephraim Radner, Hosean Wilderness, and the Church in the Post-Christendom West

A Dialogue on the Shape of Waiting


Ephraim Radner, Hosean Wilderness, and the Church in the Post-Christendom West offers the first monograph-length treatment of the compelling and perplexing contemporary Anglican theologian Ephraim Radner. While unravelling his distinctive approach to biblical hermeneutics and ecclesiology, it queries the state of today's secularized church through a theological interpretation of an equally enigmatic writer: the prophet Hosea. It concludes that an eschatological posture of waiting and a heuristic of poesis should dictate the church's shape for an era in which God is stripping the church of its foregoing institutional forms.

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Amy J. Erickson, Ph.D. (2018), resides in central Texas, where she teaches theology at Texas Lutheran University. This is her first book.
Amy Erickson’s study provides a valuable critical engagement with the provocative work of the contemporary Anglican theologian Ephraim Radner. Working across the fields of biblical hermeneutics and ecclesiology, Erickson looks to understand, interpret, and finally also to repair, Radner’s own complex arguments concerning the nature of the church and the quality of the present time of crisis. Her well-researched and expert analysis culminates in an original re-reading of the book of Hosea that itself amounts to an astute and timely intervention into living labour of the theological exegesis of scripture in the service of the church’s self-understanding. — Philip G. Ziegler, University of Aberdeen.

Ephraim Radner, Hosea, supersessionism, ecclesiology, figural interpretation: I imagine no one but Amy Erickson knows about all these subjects and has thought of linking them, as she has in this extraordinary, wide-ranging, thought-provoking, accomplished study. It will therefore be an illuminating read for anyone who knows about one or two of them and might be interested in some of the others. — John Goldingay, Professor Emeritus Fuller Theological Seminary.

Amy Erickson set out to do what appears to be the impossible: write a comprehensible book on a theologian, Ephraim Radner, whom critics say is important but incomprehensible. She has succeeded in this endeavor, and in a subtle and creative way. She focuses on Radner’s figural interpretation of scripture, his view of the church, and his use of poetical imagination. His many works are critical of both post-Reformation polemics and historical-critical exegesis. They have actually contributed to the decline of the church in the west. How the church reads the Bible, Radner argues, informs us about the state of the church itself. He is not optimistic about the current church, nor about its interpretation of the Bible. Radner cites the figural hermeneutics of the Church Fathers to show that it is no more possible to read the Bible from a detached perspective than it is to read instructions for a medication when it is a life and death matter. Dr. Erickson’s book has many strengths. For one, she uses Radner’s reading of the Bible to explore how the church has failed to develop a credible hermeneutic in a post-Christian context. For another, she devotes an entire chapter to the prophet Hosea to demonstrate how Radner, a prophetic theologian in her mind, sees the decline of the church and the stunted reading of the Bible as manifesting the same problem. But Erickson is not content merely to survey Radner’s hermeneutic. She also challenges him, though always respectfully and humbly. She raises questions about his pessimism, choosing to emphasize the importance of faithful waiting on a God who rules over history. The authors of the Bible often wrote during periods of adversity. Yet they wrote in confidence that God is still God and the church is still God’s people, however compromised. As Erickson points out, the book of Hosea emerged out of a period of chaos and suffering, though it ends on a hopeful note. She believes that theology should reflect that same spirit. I found her book fascinating, engaging, and creative.” — Gerald L. Sittser, Professor of Theology, Whitworth University


 1 Ephraim Radner: a Neglected Scholar
 2 A Fragmented Discipline and a Fragmented Church
 3 Overview

Part 1: Word and Flesh in Time: an Interpretive Analysis of Radner’s Corpus

1 Radner’s Theology of the Word
 1 Introduction to Figural Reading
 2 The Metaphysics of Figural Reading
 3 Figural Reading in Action: Radner on Leviticus
 4 Figural Reading as Perception and Reception
 5 Chapter Conclusion: Mary’s Figuralist Vision

2 Radner’s Theology of the Church
 1 Introduction
 2 Nuptial Ecclesiology
 3 Ecclesiological Diagnosis
 4 Ecclesiological Prescription
 5 Chapter Conclusion: Reconfiguring Radner

Part 2: Hosean Wilderness and Eschatological Poesis: Reconfiguring Radner

3 Reading Hosea Figurally
 1 Introduction
 2 Hosea’s Diagnosis of Israel’s Institutional Forms
 3 Hosea: Figure of the Destroyed Temple
 4 Excursus: Feminist Concerns with Hosea’s Rhetoric
 5 God’s Turn
 6 Hosea’s Wilderness Treatment
 7 Wilderness and the Wisdom Tradition
 8 Chapter Conclusion: Linguistic Renewal for a Secular Season

4 The Shape of Waiting
 1 Introduction
 2 Wilderness: Where the Church Is
 3 Eschatology: Where the Church Is Going
 4 Poesis: the Shape of the Church

Conclusion: Tending Words with Radner
Subject Index
Scripture Index
Theologians, biblical scholars, pastors, educated laypersons, and postgraduate students interested in Ephraim Radner, ecclesiology, theological interpretation, Hosea, secularism, eschatology or the state of the contemporary church.
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