Play and Particularity: A Response to Higton and Muers

Mike Higton and Rachel Muers, The Text in Play: Experiments in Reading Scripture (Eugene: Cascade Books, 2012), 260 pgs. $29.

Mark Randall James
The University of Virginia

In The Text in Play: Experiments in Reading Scripture, Higton and Muers commend and exemplify a form of scriptural reading they call “serious play.”  This paradoxical expression denotes a dialectical form of scriptural interpretation that moves between serious attention to Scripture’s “grit” and difficulty, which they correlate with the “letter” of Scripture, and playful experimentation with its possibilities, which they designate Scripture’s “spirit.” They offer their book as a series of “experiments” rather than a definitive theory of scriptural hermeneutics, demonstrating how a moment of playfulness in the interpretation of Scripture can help to open up latent possibilities within the text.  Most chapters consist of readings of particular scriptural passages, in the general spirit of those who have advocated a return to the “theological interpretation of Scripture.”1  Our authors distinguish themselves, however, by their unusually meditative style and their consistent interfaith engagement.  Their readers get to see them at work, meditating playfully on texts and problematizing received readings.  So many books theorize about interpretation; our authors actually interpret.

The book is divided into three sections.  In the first section, the authors offer a series of explicitly Christian experiments in playful reading.  In the second section, they examine and model the interfaith practice of Scriptural Reasoning (SR).  Their notion of ‘serious play’ is explicitly developed from their experience practicing SR; hence, this middle section is the heart of the book.  In the shorter third section, the authors offer a series of scriptural reflections on the natural world.

Dialogue and Destabilization

The Text in Play is thoroughly dialogical in character.2  The chapters are written by two different British authors, of different Christian persuasions and with different academic emphases: Higton is an evangelical charismatic Anglican and systematic theologian, and Muers is a Quaker and ethicist. Their readings also unfold dialogically, performing for their readers the back and forth of the interpretive process rather than simply presenting the abstracted results of this process.  They tend to offer successive interpretations, each stage calling into question or making more complex the reading tentatively and naively offered in an earlier stage.  This way of writing forces the reader to attend as much to process as to result, and particularly to the forms of argument and reasoning presupposed by various reading strategies.

A good example is chapter 4, “Keeping a Hard Text in Play I: Will the Real Women Please Stand Up?”  The chapter aims to exhibit how ‘serious play’ can reinvigorate Christian reading of difficult and divisive texts like I Timothy 2:8-15, which includes that infamous command, “Let a woman learn in silence with full submission.”  A first reading draws the apparently straightforward lesson that women are forbidden from teaching men.  But they immediately note certain “neutralizing strategies” made available by the text itself (28).  First Timothy is a letter written to a particular community in a particular context, which suggests that Paul’s exhortations are not necessarily valid for every context.  Moreover, Paul elsewhere commends the ‘spirit’ over the ‘letter;’ might not the spirit of this passage simply be that the church should conduct itself so as not to offend the surrounding community?  The first reading thereby performs the familiar impasse between ‘conservative’ and ‘liberal’ interpretations.

Higton and Muers try to overcome this impasse by offering further ‘playful’ readings:

What if, even though this is a text that originally addressed women and called them to silence, the appropriate Christian response to it is to recognize that Christian readers are all called to learn in silence with full submission?  What if, in the terms of this text, we are all women now? (29)

They suggest three different routes to this reading.  First, the text’s reference to women “saved by childbirth” evokes the figure of Mary, whom many Christians have seen as a type of the whole church.  Might it not be that, as suggested in Ephesians 5:21-22, the submission of women here, like that of Mary, is a model for that of everyone in the church?  A second route expands First Timothy’s surprising reading of Genesis 3.  If First Timothy grounds the silence of women in the fact that Eve was deceived, was not Adam also deceived?  A third route argues that since women plainly do teach men elsewhere in the canon, it may be that men too should submit to women.  This observation also provides a general warrant for playful readings, for it shows that it may be impossible to harmonize a plain sense reading of every canonical text. This sort of argument, of course, has been used since Origen to justify non-literal reading strategies.3

Like many of their readings, this chapter culminates in an assertion of playful reading’s fundamental instability: “[I]n destabilizing a first reading that was understood as a stopping point, [the second reading] has initiated an ongoing process of rereading and reflection.  The play must go on…” (32).  Similarly, for example, chapter 7: “I think it is important that Christian readers let the difficulties of the text stand, and pay attention to them — that they avoid trying to find answers and resolutions that would mean they didn’t have to face them…” (67). They summarize their whole book: “We do not, in this book, offer a resolution. …Rather, we advocate a rhythm of reading practice, a certain style of ongoing interpretative argument” (19).

One might worry that there is something oddly stable about all this destabilization, something altogether too tidy about the way our authors encourage us to “acknowledge” the difficulties of Scripture and “wrestle with” its grit.  Our authors do recognize that Scripture can ‘destabilize’ only in relation to the serious effort to seek an appropriate stability, and some of their essays (particularly in section III) draw clearer ethical and theological conclusions. They acknowledge that real lives are at stake (30) and that concrete decisions must sometimes be made by churches struggling with these texts, rejecting what they call “a laissez-faire pluralism” (40).  But they offer few explicit clues about how to move from playful reading to decisive action.  I wish they had reflected more on the dialectic between stability and destabilization and offered more guidance about how a moment of playful reading might relate to the difficult, zero-sum choices that often face Christian churches and individuals.

Scriptural Reasoning

The practice of Scriptural Reasoning is the matrix out of which their style of playful reading has arisen.  Their experience of interfaith dialogue has obviously enriched the way they read texts, even when reading as Christians for Christians.  Muers’ delightful essay “Literal Reading and Other Animals I: Setting Free the Mother Bird” (193-218), for example, engages with medieval Jewish and Christian commentaries in a rich discussion of the bird’s nest pericope in Deut. 22:6-7 and its implications for an ethic of compassion.  Our authors also engage carefully and sympathetically with the Qur’an, evidently with the expectation of learning not only about Islam but also about God and His ways in the world, yet they do so without collapsing or trivializing the profound differences between Christianity and Islam. Thus, in chapter 14, Higton offers a close reading of Sura 2:258 that leads to insights about the notion of prophecy within the Christian tradition (156).  Other Christian thinkers have felt free (or obligated) to engage with Islamic texts — for example, Aquinas reading Ibn Sina,4 or medieval Arab Christians interacting with the Qur’an5 — but such engagements are all too rare. Our authors present a commendable model of how interfaith dialogue itself can be part of productive and disciplined Christian reasoning.

One of the most valuable pieces in this book is chapter 9, by Mike Higton, which presents a redacted version of an actual SR conversation about Sura 40:78, intended to function as a primary text of sorts for scholars who discuss SR (94-109). There are, of course, obvious limits to what any single example can display of a whole practice like SR, but it seems to me that Higton succeeds in producing a text that is quite characteristic of a great many SR conversations. His descriptive reflections on this conversation (109-112) are particularly rich and full of insights about SR as a practice. These four pages are worth the price of the book!

For example, Higton describes SR reading as “exegesis without exegesis,” reading that attends carefully to the details of the text without producing a single, systematic reading.  In Higton’s sample text, the participants meditate on a number of possible interpretations of what it is to be a “messenger” and a “vain-doer,” without the exhaustive exegetical work that would characterize a traditional or historical commentary. Higton also points out how SR conversations lead to an “ambiguity of voice,” the tendency for readers to speak for a moment as if the Scriptures of others were their own.  One Jewish reader, for example, notes that God’s messengers must “[wait] on a message that is utterly beyond [their] control,” illustrating the point with reference to Moses and Muhammad (106). A Christian reader paraphrases a Qur’anic text without caveat: “Listen out for messengers, they’re all around you” (98)! Discussions of the text tend to provoke consideration of assumptions and background knowledge, what Higton calls “exploring the penumbra” around the text. And — a crucial observation — “running jokes” tend to emerge, a sign of the playful intimacy that SR can develop among those who practice it.

Higton’s coinages are particularly useful for characterizing the unique interfaith rationality that SR fosters.  For example, he describes SR conversations as exhibiting a dynamic of “stuttering and motoring,” which he displays in part through the device of writing stage directions that note where two participants eagerly interrupt each other, or where participants pause before changing the subject. In this way, Higton calls our attention not only to the content of the discussion but to its character as a dynamic performance of embodied individuals, not unlike what one finds in the best Platonic dialogues. Higton also describes SR conversations as generating ad hoc “pick-and-mix” vocabularies. For example, the conversation returns repeatedly to the metaphor of immunization and contagion to illuminate the way “vain-doers” resist God’s messengers. Participants also “pick-and-mix” philosophical vocabulary or doctrinal terms from their own traditions, some of which “take” in the conversation and some of which do not. Higton also points to a dialectic of “playfulness and discipline” in which participants offer playful and imaginative hypotheses and then return to the rough ground of the text. The implication is that SR can sometimes take on an almost scientific character: hypotheses are formulated and then tested against the particular data at hand.

By combining an exemplary dialogue with thick description, Higton’s text should provoke reflection on the character of the shared but ad hoc rational discourse that can emerge between members of different religious traditions through SR, discourse that may be enabled rather than undermined by traditional reading practices and religious commitments.

SR and the Problem of Particularism

Our authors are at their best when they are offering close, exploratory readings of texts and careful empirical descriptions; this is evidently one of the skills they have cultivated through the practice of SR. The book is weaker when they attempt to offer a general apologia for SR. Their central argument is that SR exemplifies the sort of ‘public’ discourse that is possible between religious traditions within the framework of a particularistic account of religious rationality.  By ‘particularistic’ (my word, not theirs) I mean, negatively, a suspicion of general or transcendental attempts to articulate universal structures of humanity, rationality, religion, or whatever. Positively, I mean a commitment to the tradition-specificity of discourse, especially religious reasoning. Where particularism is offered (usually by well-intentioned critics of modernity) as a universal theory of rationality, it becomes self-defeating, an instance of the sort of universal account of rationality it claims to reject. My fear is that our authors have run aground on this contradiction.

One sign of this is a tendency to conjoin particularistic rhetoric with universalistic claims about the character of reasoning and faithfulness for all religious traditions. The particularistic emphasis is expressed programmatically in Higton’s account of the rationality exhibited by SR:

[SR] practitioners engage in it without an agreed account of why they do so, without an agreed account of what it is that they are doing, and without an agreed hermeneutic or theory of scripture.  They do it without the sanction of a theory of argumentation structuring the neutral space within which their traditions can meet.  But they do it nonetheless, and as they do so their differing patterns of religious reasoning mesh into something public: something in which participants’ minds are changed by means of discussion and engagement. (113)

Though participants engage in SR for tradition-specific reasons,

those reasons and those practices somehow make for a sustainable common practice.  One can provide contestable Christian accounts, contestable Jewish accounts, contestable Muslim accounts — but any attempt to unify these into a general account cannot be anything other than a tentative post-hoc approximation, with an authority for the participants of the three traditions considerably less than the authority of the individual accounts produced from within their own traditions.  Acceptance of such a general account could not meaningfully be offered to the members of religious traditions as a condition for the possibility of their participation in Scriptural Reasoning…(113f)

Higton is surely correct that SR, as a practice, aims to respect the integrity of particular religious rationalities and the tradition-specific reasons for which individuals may participate in SR. The trouble is that he also wants to argue that SR as a practice is consistent with faithful adherence to any particular religious tradition. In order to execute this task, he is forced to offer an overly-generalized theory of tradition that tends to undercut the particularity of the traditions that participate in SR.  In what follows, I shall focus on what I regard as the clearest example of this problem: Mike Higton’s account of tradition in chapter 16.

Higton’s particularistic intent is quite explicit in the rhetoric and form of the chapter.  It unfolds as a reading of a particular Christian scriptural text, the first chapter of Mark’s gospel. It then proceeds to explore issues raised in his reading by proposing aphorisms and commenting on them. As a genre, the aphorism is well-suited to the particularist, since aphorisms typically express tradition-specific wisdom, true only generally and for the most part, and since aphorisms remain vague until wisely applied in a particular context. Similarly, commentary is a form of discourse particularly appropriate for the development of tradition-specific forms of reasoning, since it takes some form of received wisdom as its starting point.

As Higton’s reading proceeds, he emphasizes at several points that he offers his claims primarily for Christian readers, and only secondarily and tentatively for those outside his tradition — a characteristically particularistic avowal. He states this most explicitly in a footnote near the end:

Note that I have slipped here from talking about the meaning of ‘tradition’ in a Christian context (or at least one construal of what ‘tradition’ means in a Christian context, which I offer for the recognition primarily of Christian readers) to using the term in the same way for Judaism and Islam as well.  Implicitly, I am offering this construal of the meaning of ‘tradition’ to Jewish and Islamic readers in the hope that they will recognize that an analogous construal is possible for their religious houses — without any certainty of success. (185)

His particularistic intention is clear. He frames his discussion of tradition as first and foremost an act of intra-Christian dialogue, drawn from Christian sources and offered to a Christian audience.  Only insofar as there may exist analogies between his tradition and others — analogies which he, as an outsider, is not competent to judge — can his proposals also prove useful for members of other religious traditions to consider.

The claim that he has “slipped” only at this point into speaking about tradition in general terms is puzzling, however, for as far as I can tell, the whole chapter outlines a general and normative theory of tradition applicable to all religions. From the first, Higton frames his reading of Mark in terms of general questions about tradition with general analytic categories already to hand, primarily “the interplay or tension between continuity and discontinuity, faithfulness and innovation” (168).  Higton confesses that his study has led him to discover a more complex relationship between these categories, but he never questions the adequacy of these general categories themselves.

One of the hermeneutic consequences of reading Mark framed by these general categories is that he adopts a classic modernist reading strategy: he interprets the figures of Jesus and John the Baptist as exemplary of these general categories. For example: “Jesus, speaking ‘a new teaching — with authority’ in the synagogue, is doing what always happens in the synagogue, if the synagogue is a context for the faithful continuing of devout life” (180, emphasis original).  Or: “For Mark, John’s ministry represents, in its eschatological immediacy and its liminality, the starkest version of the equation between faithful continuity and prophetic challenge — but in doing so he simply dramatizes what is always and everywhere the necessary nature of tradition” (180). Now to read Jesus and John as exemplary of all tradition seems dubious. Both, after all, are remembered in Mark and other texts as highly innovative figures whose ministries ultimately led to a radical breach within the Jewish tradition.  Indeed, Jesus’ “new teaching with authority” is specifically remembered as a distinctive mode of tradition, in contrast to other modes, that marked him out as the Messiah.  Unlike the scribes and Pharisees, who passed on ancient teaching on the authority of Scripture or the elders, Jesus taught something new and on his own authority.  Surely on Mark’s view, this is not at all what “always happens in the synagogue” — no one would suspect that Jesus is the Messiah if that were the case.  If these figures are nevertheless exemplary of how all tradition functions, it can only be in a highly general and uninformative sense.

Higton’s hermeneutic here resembles not so much the playful reading he and Muers commend elsewhere as it does that of the arch-universalist Immanuel Kant.  Kant too regards Jesus as exemplary of a general concept given in advance, that of the morally perfect individual. As Higton’s Jesus exemplifies what faithful continuance of devout life “always” entails, and as his John dramatizes “what is always and everywhere the necessary nature of tradition,” so Kant’s Jesus is exemplary of a moral disposition that is “perfectly valid for all human beings, at all times, and in all worlds…”6 As a reading of the scriptural text, of course, Kant’s interpretation is forced, but this need not trouble him if — as he argues — the ground of the moral law is our universal reason. Higton’s forced reading, however, cannot be so easily reconciled with his laudible commitment to develop theological ideas in dialogue with the sources of his tradition.

One finds a similar problem when one considers Higton’s aphorisms. Higton tends to formulate and comment on his aphorisms as though they express timeless truths, thereby undermining their putatively aphoristic character.  He frequently formulates his aphorisms using universal quantifiers (“all” and “every”): e.g. aphorism 1, “all action is the action of our past”; aphorism 2, “every action tells a story”; and aphorism 11, “all tradition is invented in response to change.” To be sure, this fact does not decisively indicate that Higton intends his claims to function universally, since words expressing universal quantification need not do so in an aphoristic context. “A watched pot never boils” is not intended as a universal claim about all pots, notwithstanding the universally quantified “never”.  But Higton’s commentary on his aphorisms only accentuates his ambition to offer a universal theory of tradition. “One always and inevitably acts in a way that is thoroughly beholden to one’s past,” he says of aphorism 1 (173). Of aphorism 2: “My second aphorism makes the claim that all action tells such stories” (174, emphasis original). Of aphorism 3: “all action construes the past” (174, emphasis original again). He also shows that his account applies not only to Christianity but to all religious traditions by his choice of examples. We saw above that his theory extends to “what always happens in the synagogue,” i.e. within Judaism; elsewhere he even applies his account to secular traditions that develop in the workplace (175).

Only later in the chapter do his aphorisms adopt specifically Christian language, which Higton repeatedly describes as “translations” of his general claims.  For example, in aphorism 12 he makes the general claim that no tradition exists without continually offering proposals about how to “construe” the past and social mechanisms for recognizing certain construals as legitimate.  In aphorism 13, he offers a Christian translation: “Tradition cannot exist without prophecy.”  He then comments:

I have said that tradition is inherently and unavoidably marked by speaking out of the construed past, into a changed situation, proposing a way forward — and speaking in such a way that the faithfulness and authority of this proposal is recognized. You could therefore say that tradition is impossible without prophecy: without authoritative and faithful forthtelling. And so, for the Christian tradition, the making of proposals (the activity of construal that is at the heart of tradition) can be understood as the prophesying of the members of the body of Christ. (179, emphasis original)

Higton proceeds from a general account of making “proposals” within traditions to its Christian translation in terms of “prophecy”. The plausibility of this translation depends on construing prophecy as “authoritative and faithful forthtelling”. But much is lost in this abstract formulation. It ignores, for example, the particular institutions of prophecy remembered in the Hebrew Bible or the “thus says the LORD” immediacy of the classical prophets. Since most of Judaism and much of Christianity claims, in an important sense, that prophecy has ceased, if “tradition cannot exist without prophecy,” this can only be the case according to a fairly idiosyncratic definition of prophecy.  One begins to suspect that what content “prophecy” has here is largely controlled by his general account of the process of proposal and recognition within all traditions.

I suggested above that Higton produces a universal theory of tradition, contrary to his particularistic intentions, because of an apologetic desire to show that Scriptural Reasoning as such is consistent with faithfulness to any particular tradition.  Higton states this apologetic thesis about SR as follows: “[P]articipants in Scriptural Reasoning do so as people who belong to different traditions,” and indeed, they “make Scriptural Reasoning possible precisely by remaining faithful to their traditions in the process” (185). One way to see the difficulty is by noticing an equivocation between these two clauses.  When we speak of SR as involving “people who belong to different traditions,” we use the word “tradition” in a minimal and primarily referential sense to describe a rule that is largely constitutive of SR.  That is, we mean only that for SR to be SR, a session should ordinarily include participants who identify themselves as Jews, Christians, or Muslims, and that these participants are under no obligation to bracket their religious identity or to translate it into putatively universal terms.7

By contrast, the claim that participants “make SR possible precisely by remaining faithful to their traditions in the process” must have a very different status, for it is surely not a constitutive rule of SR, as if SR participants were required to offer readings that they (let alone other participants or the facilitator) regarded as “faithful” to their own tradition.

Instead, if we take the word “tradition” in the same minimal and referential sense as Higton uses it in the first clause, his claim must be taken as an empirical one.  To evaluate it empirically, we would need to examine the rules of SR — for example, that participants are often encouraged to speak in their own voice and offer their own interpretations (which at least some traditions some of the time surely discourage). The free-wheeling character of Higton’s sample SR conversation in chapter 9 exemplifies the freedom that SR sessions typically accord to each individual interpreter. We would also need to examine the effects of SR. I have known some individuals who confess that participating in SR makes them feel guilty, and others who have been reprimanded by religious authorities for participating in SR. Higton and Muers themselves emphasize the potentially disruptive character of SR’s playful style of reading; one suspects that at least some traditions some of the time construe disruptive reading as unfaithfulness.

It is no wonder that Higton proffers, instead, a constructive and normative definition of tradition that incorporates an a priori account of what faithfulness to any tradition consists: namely, that it must include the activity of rereading and re-construing the inherited sources of one’s tradition (185). The normativity of his account is so sharp that he can state that his account of tradition “comes close” to the assertion that “a real tradition cannot exist this side of the eschaton” (183).  Only if one accepts this normative and universal account of tradition does it follow, as Higton wants to argue, that SR participants pursue faithfulness to their traditions “in the only way that faithfulness is possible: by going back to the sources of their traditions (to their inheritance) and looking at them again with fresh eyes” (186).

Given the general scope of Higton’s whole account, it is very difficult to see how he can then legitimately limit its validity only to “the meaning of ‘tradition’ in a Christian context.” Although this caveat is intended as an expression of epistemic humility, its effect in this context is that Higton both commits himself to truth claims about the traditions of those outside of his own community and insulates himself from direct criticism of those claims by a particularistic retreat.

Beyond Particularism

If SR is, at least implicitly, suspicious of universalizing theories, it does not so much replace universalism with particularism as require individuals to attend to particulars, which is not the same thing.  By focusing one’s attention on short passages and a few individuals, SR creates the conditions for testing general claims and assumptions, whether about one’s own text and tradition or those of another. Neither purportedly universal claims and reasons, nor tradition-specific ones, are left untouched. Indeed, in certain circumstances (e.g., where participants have more or less equal power), it may be that making a claim general enough to implicate others is an important part of the process of tempering it appropriately.  One suspects that, had Higton said in the context of an SR session that all tradition looks like Jesus teaching in the synagogue, or that faithfulness always requires going back to the sources with fresh eyes, he would have been challenged by some of his interlocutors precisely because ‘tradition’ is not a Christian-specific category but is rather contested territory. One may theorize about ’tradition’ in general, but not without considering empirically how Jewish or Muslim or any other tradition functions, in dialogue with members of those traditions.  The vastness of the empirical task should check one’s universalizing ambitions, and SR is one context in which this occurs. Indeed, SR may actually teach us that if particularists were less tentative about offering their claims to members of other traditions, they might be more tentative in how they ultimately formulate and hold them.

It might have been more faithful to our authors’ generally empirical orientation, their commitment to epistemic humility, and their deep insight into the way SR can be both generative and destabilizing, had they described SR in something like the following way.  Many traditions have made the practice of studying their original sources with the expectation of receiving new insights a fundamental part of the life of that tradition; the so-called Abrahamic religions have, generally, been exemplary instances of this; and one of the potential benefits of SR for such a tradition is that, by reading one’s own text with those for whom it is unfamiliar, exciting and useful new insights frequently come to the fore. But such insights can potentially be quite troubling or destabilizing, and it would be impossible to say that this destabilizing might not lead some to be unfaithful to their tradition, at least as some SR practitioners or others within their tradition construe faithfulness to that tradition.

I offer these comments in a spirit of deep sympathy with Higton and Muers. They have shown how practicing and reflecting on Scriptural Reasoning might renew the way we read and argue, how ‘serious play’ might help us overcome some of the deepest and most entrenched habits of modernity, and how Christians in particular can enter into interfaith dialogue in a spirit of genuine humility and openness.  I hope Christian theologians and readers of Scripture will have ears to hear all that Higton and Muers have to teach.

Notes

1. For good introductions to the theological interpretation of Scripture, see Stephen Fowl, ed., The Theological Interpretation of Scripture: Classic and Contemporary Readings, (Cambridge: Blackwell Publishing Ltd., 1997), and Stephen Fowl, Theological Interpretation of Scripture, (Eugene: Cascade Books, 2009).
2. The acknowledgements (ix-xi) discretely attribute most of the chapters to one or the other of our two authors. I went back and forth about whether I should attribute particular chapters to one or to both. Following their lead in the acknowledgements, I finally opted for the former course. The one exception to this is my discussion of chapter 4, which the acknowledgments do not attribute to either author (perhaps an editorial oversight?).
3. See Origen’s On First Principles 4, Commentary on John 10, and many other places.
4. See David Burrell, “Thomas Aquinas and Islam,” Modern Theology 20, vol. 1 (January 2004), 71-89.
5. See Sidney Griffith, The Church in the Shadow of the Mosque, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008), 166-169.
6. Religion within the Bounds of Mere Reason 6:66, in Allen W. Wood and George di Giovanni, trans. and ed., Religion and Rational Theology, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 108.
7. Compare Nicholas Adams’ statement that “the principal conditions for participation [in SR] seem to be membership of one of the traditions and the desire to understand members of other traditions’ interpretations of their own scripture, and their interpretation of one’s own scripture” (Habermas and Theology, [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006], 241). He also makes the helpful observation that “scriptural reasoning thus means, for its participants, acknowledging that their particular traditions do not encourage their joint reading of scripture, but doing it anyway” (240). The more sharply these traditions discourage SR, the less tenable is Higton’s claim that one can do SR while remaining faithful to one’s own tradition.

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