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Sacred Word, Broken Word: Biblical Authority and the Dark Side of Scripture.

Sacred Word, Broken Word: Biblical Authority and the Dark Side of Scripture. By Kenton L. Sparks. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2012. ISBN: 0-8028-67189, xii and 180 pages. Paper. $20.00.

In Sacred Word, Broken Word, Kenton Sparks encourages Christians to reconsider their doctrines of Scripture. Sparks organizes his own scriptural explorations into short, accessible chapters that appraise the Bible's relationship with topics including theodicy, Christology, church history, and epistemology. The text provides helpful introductions to these conversations, and stands as commendable if read only for this purpose.

More valuable, though, are the arguments of Sparks about the nature of Scripture, interpretation, and how the community plays a central role in interpretation. Some may bristle at his claim that Scripture contradicts and even represents human fallenness. Yet, Sparks deftly suggests Scripture also offers the remedy for problems extant within the text, especially because the Bible points to God's fullest self-revelation in Jesus Christ. Sparks ultimately suggests that interpretation involves the experiences of the original authors, the readers, and the God to whom the scriptures testify.

In terms of interpretive discernment, Sparks encourages readers to distinguish between the author's human voice and the divine prerogative that brings fallible human productions into holy conversation. As texts produced by human hands, biblical books remain bound by cultural conceptions in space and time. Yet, as the Holy Spirit worked both through authors and the church to bring Scripture to a canonical whole, a thread of conversation appears at the hand of God, one that points to Jesus Christ as not only the ultimate example of human faithfulness, but as the ultimate example of God's faithfulness. The person of Christ, then, acts as an interpretive key for Scripture in all its beauty and its tension.

Thus, Sparks contends Scripture does not share the dual nature of Jesus. Scripture, like Jesus, is fully human, but lacks the full divinity inherent to Christ. As such, the marks of error and sin remain. Yet, as texts through which God chooses to self-reveal to the world, we may trust that in these words, we can find God, and thus, the necessary tools to interpret even the most difficult biblical passages.

Andrew Tucker, STM

Columbia, S.C.

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Author:Tucker, Andrew
Publication:Currents in Theology and Mission
Article Type:Book review
Date:Aug 1, 2014
Words:365
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