An investigation into the hermeneutical viability of the interpretive practices of the LDS (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)

Krohn, Jeffrey Scott (2020) An investigation into the hermeneutical viability of the interpretive practices of the LDS (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). PhD thesis, Middlesex University / London School of Theology. [Thesis]

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This dissertation explores the various uses of the Bible by the LDS church. In the first chapter, I note the danger of oversimplification for the task at hand, the complexity of the LDS church, and the lack of a published LDS hermeneutic. In chapter two, I investigate two prevailing LDS presuppositions evinced in their literature. The first presupposition is an asymmetrical perspective on the Bible, whereas the second concerns “continuing revelation.” Given the conceptual scaffolding afforded by these introductory matters, the subsequent five chapters examine the church’s specific hermeneutical approaches to the Bible.

Chapter three details a prevalent insistence on “literal” interpretation. Although ostensibly literal, I will argue that these LDS readings are, in fact, “literalistic.” Chapter four is an examination of LDS allegorical interpretation that is more accurately labeled “allegorization.” This is followed by a sociological exploration in chapter five. In the initial decades of the movement, a sociological reading purported to legitimize the separation of the LDS church (a “new reform movement”), from the existing church of the 19th century (the “parent community”). Chapter six describes what I have called “emendatory” interpretation, where the modern LDS church not only claims to restore the ancient biblical text, but also, at times, clarifies the meaning of phrases from the KJV. In the penultimate chapter, I investigate a “re-authoring” of the Bible that amounts to “locutionary reassignment,” where a phrase or word is lifted from its original biblical context, and re-used with a new meaning. On account of this reassignment, “re-authoring” is, in actuality, non-interpretive, in contradistinction to the four interpretive categories examined in the previous four chapters. Nevertheless, this final category merits discussion, as it details a frequent approach to the Bible by the LDS. Finally, in chapter eight, I discuss specific insights of Hans-Georg Gadamer, in order to evaluate these five uses of the Bible by the LDS church—literal, allegorical, sociological, emendatory, and “reauthoring.” A Gadamerian hermeneutic initially appears to align with the interpretive practices of the LDS, given his emphasis on presuppositional matters, the community in interpretation, and the importance of application in the interpretive process. However, Gadamer’s hermeneutical flexibility ultimately fails to lend credibility to LDS hermeneutics.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Research Areas: A. > School of Law
B. > Theses
C. Collaborative Partners > London School of Theology
Item ID: 30529
Depositing User: Brigitte Joerg
Date Deposited: 16 Apr 2021 10:22
Last Modified: 23 Jun 2021 18:02

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