Hanz Gutierrez: The Wholistic Herbert Blomstedt of Hermeneutics

Born in Peru, Spectrum columnist Hanz Gutierrez Salazar has advanced degrees in theology, medicine, and music. He teaches in the seminary program at the Italian Adventist University in Florence, commonly called “Villa Aurora.” His new book, Beyond the Bible, Beyond the West: The “Eros” of Interpretation (2023), was just released by Mimesis International, a European publishing house with a cosmopolitan focus and connections to influential intellectuals and many Italian universities. 

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://spectrummagazine.org/arts-essays/2023/hanz-gutierrez-wholistic-herbert-blomstedt-hermeneutics
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The Table of Contents plus a paragraph about the Bibliography are too long to include in the review itself. I’ve posted them here in hopes of communicating that this is not just another book. It is a once-in-a-century achievement which academics in the world at large will take very serioiusly.

Please scroll a long way down for the comments.

The “Beyond” the Text and the “On this “Side” of interpretation
for a Hermeneutics of life

  1. The “Beyond” the Text
  2. The “On this Side” of Interpretation
  3. The “On this Side” and the “Beyond” of Being
  4. The “On this Side” and the “Beyond” of the meaning of life:
    A Hermeneutics of the South


i. What is Hermeneutics?

  1. A theological-cultural look at hermeneutics
  2. Reading the Bible
  3. Interpreting the Bible
  4. The dual hermeneutical nature of Christianity
  5. The “hermeneutic circle”

ii. History of Hermeneutics

  1. A theological-cultural look at the history of hermeneutics
  2. Pre-modern period. A “text-centric” hermeneutic
  3. Modern period. A “reader-centric” hermeneutic
  4. Interpretive fragmentation. Pluralism and hermeneutical polytheism.
  5. Interpretive compactness. Sola Scriptura and hermeneutical monolithism

iii. A “formative text”

  1. A theological-cultural look at the text
  2. The text and its autonomy
  3. The text and multiple recipients
  4. The text and broken referentiality
  5. Informational texts and formative texts:
    the why of Being “in reading”

iv. a “vital reader”

  1. A theological-cultural look at the reader
  2. The reader and his rooting “upstream” of the text:
  3. The reader and his uprooting “in front of” the text:
  4. The reader and his pro-rooting “beyond” the text:
  5. The obedient reader and the vital reader: the why of Creativity “in reading”


v. The interpreted language

  1. A theological-cultural look at biblical language
  2. A complex and multifaceted language
  3. Word and Scripture as a tension that grounds biblical language
  4. Plurivocity and sobriety as hallmarks of biblical language
  5. Centripetal and centrifugal dimensions as the dual vocation of biblical language

vi. The interpreting language

  1. A theological-cultural look at religious language
  2. Hermeneutic levels: some characteristics
  3. Three intra-textual hermeneutic levels:
    from event to paradox
  4. Three extra-textual hermeneutic levels:
    from paradox to paradoxes
  5. For a biblical hermeneutics of polyvalence and paradox

vii. Hermeneutic anomalies “By Excess” of Text:
Textual Positivism

  1. A theological-cultural look at textual reductionism
  2. Biblical literalism:
    formal inerrancy
  3. Biblical confessionalism:
    confessional inerrancy
  4. Biblical-theological rationalism:
    ideological inerrancy
  5. Modern book-centrism: cultural inerrancy.

viii. Hermeneutic Anomalies “By Deficit” of Text.
Anthropocentric Subjectivism

  1. A theological-cultural look at hermeneutic individualism
  2. Biblical subjectivism:
    psychological anthropocentrism
  3. Biblical confessionalism:
    ecclesiological anthropocentrism
  4. Biblical Pragmatism:
    experiential anthropocentrism
  5. Modern rationalism:
    cultural anthropocentrism
                                                      PART III

ix. The father’s Passion and the Possibility of Meaning

  1. Theological positivism: “monarchianism”
  2. Monarchianism and globalization
  3. Father’s complexity:
    “The good shepherd and the welcoming housewife”
  4. “The heroism” of the good shepherd
  5. “Anonymity” of the cozy housewife
  6. From sheep to commensal:
    an anthropological metamorphosis
  7. “The exuberant and sober love of the Father”:
    the contingency of meaning

x. The Grace of the Son and The Gratuitousness of Meaning

  1. Christological positivism:
    the “Christocentrism”
  2. Christocentrism and pathologizing
  3. The complexity of the Son:
    “Jesus and Emmanuel” (Mt 1:18-23)
  4. “The Purity” of Jesus
  5. “The Accompaniment” of Emmanuel
  6. From sinner to person:
    anthropological rebirth
  7. “The exuberant and sobering grace of the Son”:
    the vulnerability of meaning

xi. The vitality of the Spirit and The Resilience of Meaning

  1. Pneumatological positivism:
    the “sanctification”
  2. Sanctification and regulation
  3. The complexity of the Spirit:
    “The Holy Spirit and the Spirit of life” (Rev. 11:1-11)
  4. “The order” of the Spirit of holiness
  5. “The unpredictability” of the Spirit of life
  6. From saintly to vital:
    anthropological flourishing.
  7. “The exuberant and sobering communion of the Spirit”:
    the miraculousness of meaning.

xii. Reading the Bible from the South. The Eros of interpretation

  1. Chronicity and persistence of hermeneutic nihilism in late modernity
  2. A dysfunctional trinity:
    the death of things
  3. A dysfunctional Bible:
    the canon against the Spirit
  4. Auferstehung and the “pneumatological turn”:
    against the necrophilia of sense
  5. Beyond the Bible.
    The birth of a third testament.
  6. Beyond the West.
    Of the possibility of other knowledges
  7. The resonance of meaning:
    sabbath, advent and Unverfügbarkeit

The Bibliography is 22 pages long. It includes 37 “B” surnames with several of them having more than one publication. These are: Bacchiocchi, Barker, Barr, Barth, Battaglia, Bauckham, Bellinger, Benedict, Benjamin, Benneniste, Berkhof, Besnier, Bettelheim, Bettini, Bhabha, Blankholm, Bloesch, Bloom, Bock, Bordei, Bollas, Bonhoeffer, Bonomi, Bordoni, Boring, Bourguin, Blouyer, Branecto, Bravo, Brueggemann, Bock, Bulgakov and Bultmann. There are, of course, twenty-five more letters in the Bibliography each of which has about as many entries.

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This news of Hanz’ publication and your review of it, David, is very encouraging. I’m struck by the influence of another South American in a different Church, namely, Pope Francis to the Catholic Church. Will Adventism buck against the influence Hanz can have on our theology in the same fashion that Catholics have with Francis?

Cheers for interpreting the text as metaphoric. Are not all texts and doctrines crafted from them metaphoric and evocative rather than true or false? But what is the metaphor(s) here? What if the metaphor is “The King is a shepherd” (the shepherd king),who sets a table for me while my enemies look on and go hungry? Yet, if we go the metaphor road, are we not driven to interpret them in an inclusive or multiple directional way: West, South, East, West, Islam, Hindu, and Buddhism, etc.? How will we make peace on earth?

Hi Mark! I thought that it was brilliant of the Catholics to choose a liberal from the conservative south! I gather from what you say that hasn’t been altogether easy from him. I compare Hanz to Blomstedt because I believe that he, too, will have a greater impact beyond our denomination without losing his SDA identity.

All cultures have positive and negative aspects. The beauty of the Bible is it’s principles can be applied to every culture. I think any argument that exalts one culture over another is dangerous. Imagine if a westerner wrote a theology book about how we need to go beyond the south or wherever else. They’d be called racist, no doubt.

I read the article and I don’t really understand what journalistic effect the editors were trying to accomplish by misspelling “holistic”.

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We already use these two circles when reading poetry. This is, then, to say - Bible hermeneutics is much like reading poetry - the original message in the mind of the writer needs to be understood in order for it to transfer with personal worth to the reader. But meaning may not rest there. It is meant to trigger experience, past, present, and even future.


Nicely done, Sirje. Great poets admit that metaphors and allusions are too big, too encompassing, to be wrapped in the meanings the poet herself assigns in her own imagination. That is why one poet said: “A poem should not mean, but be!” This is the key to biblical interpretation.


I think Roy Adams is responsible for the change of the spelling of holistic to wholistic in Adventist writing; some time back in the 1970s at an ASRS meeting…

I agree, although with the brevity there is question with who needs to understand in order to “protect”. Poetry as metaphor evokes Isn’t that license for the privilege or freedom of every hearer or reader? Personal worth, “transferred” is different from what a text evokes. Here the poet is compelled to let organizers take over and draw the second circle. The triggering of experience, possibly by abduction and retroduction, may not involve a rational move, yet present the novelty needed for religion–experienced, not canonized.

Context is what “protects”. The experience comes from personal identification with the text. That would include the reader’s “contexture”.

We don’t - we can’t. Turn o the news.

It’s difficult to read another’s poetry, metaphors and allegory as such when that work is prefaced with phrases like “thus saith the lord…” “I was shown…” or “God told me to tell you…”.

IOW, it seems unlikely that a writer who uses an appeal to the highest authority imaginable thinks his or her pronouncements are open to debate or would be willing to allow that his words can be read less than literally.

The suggestion that the missives of a writer convinced of his god-given mission could be interpreted and understood as being merely allegorical according to the vagaries of any reader’s whims, preconceptions, current context, etc, would doubtless be considered anathema to such a supposedly “divinely” inspired writer.

For example, EGW writings have historically been used in SDA discussions to signal an end to the conversation rather than an invitation for alternative allegories or more illustrative metaphors.

Now who’s showing a propensity for being negative?

I see nothing but good news in the Middle East.

Either we will continue to muddle our way along as have since time out mind, give up on god and religion in the interest of getting along with each other, god will come and rescue us from ourselves, or we will destroy ourselves and the planet.

In the meantime, and either which way, the vast majority of the cosmos will continue on its blissfully indifferent path, as inconsiderate of human concerns as humanity is indifferent to my missing a putt.


One has to be opposed to something, or they stand for nothing.

I agree with that. That will happen a nano-second before or after they push the button - or not. If the Bible is to be accepted in any form, mankind is not going to solve any of the problems. This is why the “social gospel” of “let’s all get along - use appropriate pronouns - and, plant trees” isn’t going to work. So, it’s either blow up the planet or hope the Bible is correct. I choose to be positive by being negative on that one.

In the Hebrew Bible, especially the prophets, citations from “the Lord” are meant to remind them that they have abandoned goodness and love in the way they treat the widows and orphans nd in the way they treat each other. And yes, there are warnings “from God” concerning disobedience. Must take each occasion in its context.

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The Bible is all thousands of miles and years from its context.

Until someone can provide evidence that it must be read, or read in some compulsory fashion, I consider myself free to disregard any or all it as I see fit, due to its essentially fictitious nature.

I agree and have listed many things that I’m opposed to, even as recently as above.

But you, in your negativity, accuse me of being negative.

So I’m not saying you’re wrong.

I’ just sayin’….


Like the man said, context is everything. I had just stated that my SDA background was “all good”; and “it is what you make it”. And, you made that into a negative. Not to rehash, but it’s true, everything is what you make it to be.


You made it negative by saying I was negative.

I made it a positive by saying I learned from the best.

If you make that a bad thing, that’s on you.