What Book Would You Recommend on Authorial Intent?

Question from a reader:

What book would you recommend on authorial intent? And have you heard of The Ungospel? One of my professors at my Christian college recommended it.

Answer from Randy Alcorn:

A book that is not specifically Christian, but is a classic, and well worth reading is Validity in Interpretation, by E. D. Hirsch, see http://www.amazon.com/Validity-Interpretation-E-D-Hirsch/dp/0300016921.

I hadn’t heard of The Ungospel, but did some checking around, including the author’s own explanation of the book. The author gets rid of the things in the gospels he doesn’t like and keeps the ones he does. The result is a tame Jesus who doesn’t talk about hell and damnation, and is always positive and loving.

If I were going to read something taking that kind of viewpoint, which I’m not recommending doing and very much disagree with it, I would read something by Marcus Borg or one of the other “Jesus Seminar” people who gathered together to decide what in the gospels should be kept and what should be discarded. Like Thomas Jefferson’s cut and paste Bible, in which he kept what he liked and tossed what he didn’t. The level of presumption and arrogance in doing this is incredible, and it is sad that a professor at what was once a Bible-believing school, would teach such a view to impressionable students—many of whom, along with their parents, paid their tuition believing the school embraced rather than opposed the teachings of God’s Word. It’s not only heresy, it’s false advertising (see my article http://www.epm.org/resources/2010/Feb/21/what-are-some-criteria-use-choosing-christian-coll/). As you can see, this sort of thing pushes my buttons when it happens at “Christian” schools. At least Marcus Borg teaches at OSU, which no one believes to be a Christian school.

Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over sixty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries