Call for Abstracts: Originalism in Theology and Law

Submission deadline: June 1, 2022

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Originalism in Theology and Law

Edited by Mark J. Boone and Mark D. Eckel

Call for Abstracts

Originalism tells us that the meaning of a text is its original meaning.  Originalism is a prominent theory in the study of American law, and makes it into the news from time to time when one of its adherents is nominated to the Supreme Court.  But originalism is also a trans-disciplinary theory with roots in philosophy and major branches stretching from law to religion.  Originalism in American law is primarily a theory on the meaning of the Constitution—the theory that the meaning of the Constitution can only change when the words of the Constitution change.  Originalism also appears in Hebraic-Christian theology as a theory on the meaning of the Bible—that its meaning is that intended by the original authors.  This is a foundational doctrine for many Christian churches and denominations.

We plan to edit a book of essays exploring the theoretical links between originalism in law and originalism in theology, particularly with reference to questions such as the following:

  • What is the best evidence for/against originalism as a general hermeneutical theory?

  • What are some limitations of originalism as a general hermeneutical theory?

  • Is there unique evidence for originalism in the study of the Bible but not in the study of law, or vice versa?

  • What makes a rigorous theory of originalism in law different from a rigorous theory of originalism in theology?

  • What are the guiding principles of originalist interpretation in multiple disciplines?

  • What are the presuppositions of originalism or of other hermeneutical theories?

  • In theology and in law, is “the author” dead or alive?

  • How do hermeneutical perspectives from thinkers like Gadamer, Fish, Hirsch, and Vanhoozer apply respectively in the study of theology and law?

We welcome abstracts for papers exploring these or other questions within the scope of this topic. We expect that final papers would be around 5,000-6,000 words. (Please note that neither submission nor acceptance of an abstract is a guarantee of publication.)

Please submit abstracts by: June 1, 2022

Abstract length: 150 to 250 words

Please email abstracts or questions to: Mark D. Eckel at [email protected] andto Mark J. Boone at [email protected].

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