Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The reshaped mind: Searle, the biblical writers, and their beliefs about the effects of Christ's blood
by Williams-Tinajero, Lace Marie, Ph.D., Fuller Theological Seminary, School of Theology, 2008, 228; 3308927
Abstract (Summary)

Interest in speech act theory among biblical scholars and theologians has increased in recent decades. By 1960, J.L. Austin had outlined how a speaker can perform actions with words (e.g., those who utter vows before an officiate perform the act of getting married). His lectures on the subject were published posthumously as How to Do Things with Words (1962). Several philosophers of language such as John R. Searle, H. Paul Grice, James Wm. McClendon Jr. and James M. Smith, and Kent Bach and Robert Harnish have utilized and improved upon Austin's taxonomy of illocutionary acts.

Searle has contributed to speech act theory by rooting his philosophy of language in the philosophy of mind. He is interested in how a speaker employs language, and in the question of what makes speech acts possible. A biological naturalism undergirds Searle's work on this question, as seen with his categories of mind—intentionality, background, and network. Some biblical scholars and theologians have combined theories of speech acts and/or employed Donald D. Evans's concept of self-involvement for analyzing biblical texts and hermeneutical matters. In this dissertation, however, Searle's philosophies of language and mind are employed exclusively to examine five NT texts on the language of Christ's blood, at the level of speaker intentionality: Rom 3:25; Heb 9:12; John 6:52–59; Rev 1:5b–6; and Rev 7:13–14.

The main results indicate that Searle's categories can open a way to recognize the literal and metaphorical meanings of these texts. The various speakers associated with these selected passages (i.e., Paul, the author of Hebrews, Jesus, John, the elder, etc.) performed metaphorical assertions on how Christ, with his blood, has made it possible for sinners to inherit eternal life, redemption, justification, and freedom from sin. Searle's categories help to distinguish among utterance acts, propositional acts, and illocutionary acts, and how the status of a speaker's words can change from illocutionary act to verbatim report (e.g., John reported on Jesus' direct assertives, indirect directives, and indirect commissives in John 6:52–59). A speech act analysis of these texts, at the level of speaker intentionality, indicates that the function of the biblical writer is indispensable.

Indexing (document details)
School: Fuller Theological Seminary, School of Theology
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 69/03, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Linguistics, Bible, Language
Keywords: Beliefs, Biblical interpretation speech act theory, Biblical writers, Blood of Christ language, Christ's blood, Lace Williams Tinajero dissertation, Metaphorical assertions, New Testament speech act theory, Philosophy of language speech act theory, Searle, John R., Speech act
Publication Number: 3308927
ISBN: 978-0-549-55499-8
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