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Changing Signs of Truth: A Christian Introduction to the Semiotics of Communication

4.34  ·  Rating Details ·  35 Ratings  ·  8 Reviews
What signals are you sending when you share the gospel? The importance of signs for communicating truth has been recognized throughout the ages. Crystal L. Downing traces this awareness from biblical texts, through figures from church history like John Wycliffe and William Tyndale, to more recent writers Samuel Taylor Coleridge and C. S. Lewis. In the nineteenth century, ...more
Paperback, 342 pages
Published May 7th 2012 by IVP Academic
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Life on the edge of the coin. That is Crystal Downing's image for the communicative task properly understood. We live in the tension (or on the edge) between that which we want to communicate and the one with whom we want to communicate. Downing develops this idea by introducing us to the use of signs in communication--the field of semiotics. Along the way, we meet de Saussure, Gramsci, Peirce, and Bakhtin and other major figures in this field of study.

The major purpose of this book is not simpl
Apr 02, 2013 Denys rated it really liked it
A much-needed corrective to those who read signs far too simplistically or with little self-reflexivity, in turn mistaking them to be ends in themselves, rather than means to an end (as noted in a B&C review). Grounded in sound theology and exegesis, always considering signs in the particular context in which they arose from. Some interesting examples are touched on and dealt with very astutely, such as the liberal/conservative dichotomy, how the past/future is idealized, and the issue of ...more
Jun 16, 2014 Jamie rated it it was amazing
At the beginning of Changing Signs of Truth Crystal Downing makes an insightful comment that “some Christians seem more passionate about protecting the holiness of an inerrant sign (the Bible) than about humbly considering how to be transformed by what the sign points to (God’s holy character and loving acts).” In effect, we turn this sign - however holy it truly is - into an idol, boxing in the living nature of God’s Word.

Some of my literary nerd came out as I read this book that brings togethe
May 06, 2013 Mary rated it really liked it
An incredibly dense and yet completely understandable book. Downing provides a thorough introduction to semiotics and starts a discussion that will carry beyond the pages of the book. She does not become weighed down with theories, dates, and names, but uses them to supplement her own ideas and foster discussion. If you want to engage with society and culture in an eloquent and elegant manner, I highly recommend you read her book. It will change not only how you think about faith, but every sign ...more
Steve Allison
Feb 04, 2015 Steve Allison rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've wanted to learn about semiotics and this was an excellent introduction. It is the second book of Crystal's that I've read. I read it a couple years ago. What has stayed with me is the attention she gave to a friend of William James and a singularly creative person by the name of C. S. Peirce. Peirce virtually created the field. I certainly will be re-reading. The thinking takes time to sink in and therefore review is essential. It goes well with the other book I read of hers, "How ...more
Jason Deuman
Aug 25, 2016 Jason Deuman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Signs are everywhere

This book gives a helpful explanation of semiotics and application of semiotic principles for Christian leaders and communicators. It was a slow read but really piqued my interest around chapter 6.

The ability of think in metaphor and communicate using compelling images is something that Christians have been doing all along. The challenge is when our metaphors become more important than the truth they represent. We have to continually evaluate the metaphors we use in order to
Kate Davis
Read the whole thing if you need a basic understanding of linguistics. Read just the last 5 pages if you want to know how your linguistic knowledge relates to the Church.
Sep 07, 2012 Norbert rated it really liked it
the best introductory book I've seen on why semiotics is important to folks who want to follow Jesus today.
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“How often
today might Christians think they stand for "true" Christianity when what they stand for is a secular tradition-what cultural critic Raymond Williams would call a "selective tradition" (chapter five)-that has little to do with the kingdom of God?”
“Christians are called to love the whole world, which includes the cultures in which we are embedded. For only by loving culture can we become effective communicators within it.” 0 likes
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