The Logic of Revelation
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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.