The Truth of Broken Symbols
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This book provides a cross-cultural analysis of how religious symbols function from a theological and philosophical perspective.
This book provides a cross-cultural analysis of how religious symbols function from a theological and philosophical perspective. Showing how religious symbols can be true in various qualified senses, Neville presents a theory of religious symbolism in the American pragmatic tradition extending and elaborating Tillich's claim that religious symbols participate in the divine realities to which they refer and yet must be broken in order not to be idolatrous or demonic. The Truth of Broken Symbols offers a theory of religious symbolism treating reference, meaning, and interpretation, and discussing different functions of religious symbols in theological, practical, and devotional contexts. It shows that religious symbols are to be properly understood as true or false and that symbol-systems such as myths, theologies, or liturgical symbols are to be used to engage divine realities while internally exhibiting semiotic structures of reference, meaning, and interpretation.
Robert Cummings Neville is Professor of Philosophy, Religion, and Theology at Boston University where he is also Dean of the School of Theology. He is past president of the American Academy of Religion, the Metaphysical Society of America, and the International Society for Chinese Philosophy. Neville has also written Behind the Masks of God: An Essay Toward Comparative Theology; New Essays in Metaphysics; The Puritan Smile: A Look Toward Moral Reflection; The Tao and the Daimon; Eternity and Time's Flow; God the Creator: On the Transcendence and Presence of God; The Highroad Around Modernism; Reconstruction of Thinking; Recovery of the Measure: Interpretation and Nature; A Theology Primer; Normative Cultures; and The Cosmology of Freedom, all published by SUNY Press.
"It is a comprehensive, intricately argued, original treatment of a topic that is of central importance in both theology and philosophy of religion. Its inclusion of the referential element in symbols distinguishes it in a sensible and needed way from much of the current discussion." — John. B. Cobb, Jr., Claremont Graduate School
"I was engaged by the careful theological and theoretical treatment of spiritual issues. The burgeoning field of spirituality needs this kind of discussion. It is a distinctive development of the pragmatic tradition." — Anne Carr, University of Chicago Divinity School