The Logic of Revelation

  • Peter OchsEmail author
Part of the Contributions to Hermeneutics book series (CONT HERMEN, volume 7)


No longer trusting the once-dominant disciplines of reasoning in the modern academy, contemporary discussions of theology often turn to tradition- or experience-based sources of religious knowledge. While applauding the turn, for example to scripturally grounded theology, I argue that this should not entail a turn away from all logic-based disciplines of reasoning. The genres of modern reasoning that merit postmodern criticism—foundationalist and other types of reductive reasoning – are all informed by two-valued, disjunctive logics. Many classic and medieval scriptural commentaries are informed, however, by non-disjunctive disciplines of reasoning that may be formalized, today, in any of a range of multi-valued logics. There is therefore no justification for extending postmodern suspicions of disjunctive disciplines of reasoning to non-disjunctive disciplines.

By way of illustration, I introduce a semiotic method (the “Logic of Revelation,” LR) for diagramming patterns of non-disjunctive reasoning in practices of tradition-based, scriptural theology. An analyst may, of course, lack reasonable evidence for attributing such patterns to a given project of theological writing. The detailed work of this chapter is to illustrate the kind of reading and modeling that provides reasonable evidence. According to LR, patterns of non-disjunctive reasoning are specific to a given sub-tradition of practice. I therefore illustrate LR through the case of classic rabbinic reasoning about scripture (midrash) as examined by a set of contemporary rabbinic scholars. Rabbinic reasoning adopts revealed words as its first premises and prototypically attends to catastrophic loss as context for its innovative, midrashic interpretations.


Midrashic interpretation Logic of revelation Catastrophic loss Multi-valued logics 

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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of VirginiaCharlottesvilleUSA

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