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John W. Wyckoff: Pneuma and Logos

John Wyckoff has done the Church a great service in fostering theological and hermeneutical reflection on a timeless topic of continuing relevance. Pentecostals and charismatics, in particular, ought to be grateful for his strong insistence that hermeneutics is fundamentally pneumatic; the Spirit retaining an active role in the interpretive process, one that is in continuity with (albeit distinct from) his inspiration of the Scriptures. Moreover, our author is to be congratulated for his courage to deal with the tough and sticky hermeneutical and theological questions that arise when one seeks to articulate the transcendent reality and work of the Spirit. In Chapter five he summarizes the results of his study with a humble acknowledgement of its limits and anticipates some criticism that is sure to follow. Nevertheless, he has pushed us forward in theological and hermeneutical reflection and refined and clarified our task of defining the Spirit’s role in biblical interpretation. He has given us a workable model (Spirit as Teacher) that helps, but does not exhaust the nature of the task. He has even dared broach the subject of how the Spirit’s illumination works. The most daring aspect of his proposal is to distinguish interpretation through normal human intellect on the one hand, and that aided by the Spirit’s illumination on the other. In the latter he hints at a different epistemology that produces not only a “contemporary significance” of Scripture, but a divine-human transaction whereby the reader-interpreter experiences the being of God himself. As controversial and abstract as this proposal may be, it is one cogently argued within the parameters of theological orthodoxy and anticipated or confirmed by more than a few theologians.

Wyckoff is his own best critic and he ends his work with suggestions to refine and amend his proposal. The reader is challenged not only to critique that proposal, but through additional research, to refine it or even offer one of their own. In Pneuma and Logos, Dr. Wyckoff has presented us with an illuminating work, an engaging proposal and a provocative challenge.

Reviewed by James D. Hernando

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Category: In Depth, Pneuma Review, Spring 2012

About the Author: James D. Hernando, Ph.D. (Drew University), is Professor of New Testament at the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary. He is author of Dictionary of Hermeneutics (Gospel Publishing House, 2005), the commentary on 2 Corinthians in the Full Life Bible Commentary to the New Testament (Zondervan, 1999), as well as numerous articles and papers.

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