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John W. Nevin's transcendental hermeneutics is perhaps one of the most penetrating and sophisticated theological systems to emerge from American soil. The Interior Sense of Scripture unfolds, for the first time, his vision of a hermeneutic based on the centrality of the Incarnation. Part I explores Nevin's hermeneutics of the new creation and the Eucharist, culminating finally in a sacramental and incarnational view of scripture. Part II presents Nevin's critique of American culture in the light of his hermeneutical conclusions. Though more than a century has passed since he spoke, Nevin's polemic against materialism, religious skepticism, individualism, and sectarianism still retains its creative force and insight.
The central ideas in this book are (1) the Incarnation is the transcendental (i.e., top-down) archetype of all hermeneutics and philosophy; (2) the foundational paradigm emerges out of the theological, liturgical, and moral fabric of catholic Christianity embodied by the Rule of Faith and the Apostles' Creed; (3) for the Christian, metaphysics as well as linguistic philosophy is not simply an instrument or heuristic device which could adopt any worldview (such as nominalism or postmodernism) as a supreme fiction; (4) the decay of American culture and religion lies in its widespread (though often implicit) adoption of Common Sense Realism (a botton-up paradigm) which, contrary to the genius of the Incarnation, values the material above the spiritual, the actual above the ideal, and the particular above the universal.
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