* An accessible introduction to the postmodern theory of semiotics from a Christian perspective. Drawing parallels to John Wycliffe, William Tyndale, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, C.S. Lewis, and others, Downing traces the concept of the sign through Scripture, church history, and the academy. Discover how signs work to enhance or obscure attempts to communicate the truth. 295 pages, softcover from InterVarsity.
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, this legacy of interest in the activity of signs brought about a new field of academic study. In this book, Downing puts the discipline of semiotics within reach for beginners through analysis of the movement's key theorists, Ferdinand de Saussure, Charles Sanders Peirce, Mikhail Bakhtin and others. She then draws out the implications for effective communication of the gospel of Jesus Christ within our shifting cultural landscape. Her fundamental thesis is that "Failure to understand how signs work--as effects of the cultures we seek to affect--inevitably undermines not just our political and moral agendas but, worse, the gospel of Jesus Christ." Writing with humor, clarity and flare, Downing lucidly explains the sophisticated thinking of leaders in semiotics for nonexperts. Of value to all those interested in communication in any context, this work will be of special interest to students majoring in communications or English or to students in evangelism and preaching courses at the undergraduate and graduate level.
Crystal Downing, Distinguished Professor of English and Film Studies at Messiah College (PA), has published widely on the relationship between Christianity and culture. Her first book, (Palgrave Macmillan) received the international Barbara Reynolds Award for best scholarship on Sayers, granted at Cambridge in 2009 by the Dorothy L. Sayers Society. Her second book, (IVP Academic), grapples with the rhetorical and religious turns in philosophy. Downing has also published scores of essays in , and , drawing Christianity and culture into conversation through analysis of film semiotics.
"This is a splendid book filled with deep Christian wisdom and practical insights for everyday communication. Crystal Downing makes semiotics understandable, interesting and even fun."
"If you think that Roman Jakobson, Charles Sanders Peirce, Antonio Gramsci, Mikhail Bakhtin and a host of other esoteric theorists are irrelevant to Christian living in the modern world, Crystal Downing wants you to think again. Her persuasively engaging book explains why semiotics (the science of 'signs') can in fact illuminate Christian faith, Christian approaches to culture and believers' relationships with other believers. Although the material in this book is complex, Downing does a beautiful job conveying her message about the importance of 'signs' and the hopeful possibilities of 're-signing' with winsome simplicity, telling anecdotes and solid Christian wisdom."
"The great contribution of this work is to make some of the most complex and challenging theoretical concepts in communication accessible and even attractive to competent college-level readers within the milieu of struggles over faithfulness in North American evangelical Christian culture."
" Changing Signs of Truth is intellectually stunning, with a rich vein of church history, literary exemplars and personal anecdotes illustrating and illuminating key concepts in the study of semiotics. The work introduces readers not only into a world of ideas about signs and communication, but to a real person. It thus practices what it preaches."