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There is nothing like suspense and anxiety for barracading a human's mind against the Enemy. He wants men to be concerned with what they do; our business is to keep them thinking about what will happen to them.
C.S. Lewis, Screwtape Letters, p.28
...the knowledge of God which we are invited to cultivate is not that which, resting satisfied with empty speculation, only flutters in the brain, but a knowledge which will prove substantial and fruitful wherever it is duly perceived and rooted in the heart.
John Calvin, The Institutes, bk 1, ch 5
“Bad news goes about in clogs, good news in stockinged feet.”
Welsh Proverb, quoted by Rich Stearns 'The Hole in Our Gospel'
What narrowness of spiritual life we find in Frazer! And as a result: how impossible for him to understand a different way of life from the English one of his time!
Ludwig Wittgenstein, Remarks on Frazer's Golden Bough, p. 5e
How all-important it is that a vigorous spiritual life, in close association with the Holy Scriptures and in the midst of Christian community, be maintained as a background to theological work, and that the unformed shadows of thought always derive their life-blood from that source...
Helmut Thielicke, A Little Exercise for Young Theologians, p. 37
If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.
Thorin Oakenshield, The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien, p. 301 is through conflict and sometimes only through conflict that we learn what our ends and purposes are.
Alisdair MacIntyre, After Virture, p. 164
“The verbal explanation, as it takes us from one verbal expression to another, in a sense gets us no further.”
Ludwig Wittgenstein, The Blue Book, p1
“Unless the church of the West begins to understand this (mission as a permanent and instrinsic dimension of the church’s life, “The church exists by mission, just as fire exists by burning.”), and unless we develop a missionary theology, not just a theology of mission, we will not achieve more than merely patch up the church. We are in need of a missiological agenda for theology, not just a theological agenda for mission; for theology, rightly understood, has no reason to exist other than critically to accompany the missio Dei.”
David Bosch, p.32
In preaching the gospel, it is our business to show, in so far as our knowledge and experience equip us to do so, how the Christian story enables us to understand and deal with the whole range of human experience in both public and private life.
Lesslie Newbigin, Proper Confidence, p. 96
The Kingdom that I seek
Is thine; so let the way
That leads to it be thine,
Else I must surely stray.
H. Bonar, 'Thy Way, Not Mine, O Lord.'
I don't believe that God is a fussy faultfinder in dealing with theological ideas. He who provides forgiveness for a sinful life will also surely be a generous judge of theological reflections. Even an orthodox theologian can be spiritually dead, while perhaps a heretic crawls on forbidden bypaths to sources of life.
Helmut Thielicke, A Little Exercise for Young Theologians, p. 37
Most misunderstandings come not from missed definitions but from missed contexts.

Eugene Peterson, Working the Angles, p. 85-86
There is one who pretends to be rich, but has nothing; Another pretends to be poor, but has great wealth.
Proverbs 13:7
Grace is grace despite of all controversy.

Wirkungsgechichte: Key People

23rd October 2012

R.G. Collingwood


H. Gadamer

H.R. Jauss

Anthony Thiselton

David Lyle Jeffries


I.  Work on Fuchs, Wittgenstein, and Austin (1964-70)

a)  Gadamer and Wittgenstein = dissatisfied with traditional textbooks on biblical interpretation.

b)  Fuch’s major works and Gadamer’s Truth and Method.

1.  Projected “worlds” into which the reader is drawn

a-pre-cognitive value systems into which readers seduced or  enticed, only to find world and reader’s expectations subverted or reversed.

1)  Fuchs on reveral of expectation in Mt. 20:1-16

2)  “worldhood” in Heidegger’s Being and Time to which Fuch’s was indebted.

c)  Problems in Philosophy of Language

1.  Wittgenstein and J.L. Austin:  peformatives which presupposed institutional states of affairs and specific contextual conventions improvement on Heidegger and Fuchs.

2.  Pannenberg on Hermeneutics also alerted him to devaluing of assertions in Heidegger and Gadamer.

3.  Concerned to draw equally on Anglo-American tradition and Continental Philosophy with Wittgenstein as a key figure with incisiveness and rigor (analytical phil in Britain) and Continental suspicion of exclusively rationalist methods and deeper concern with human subjectivity in life-worlds.  In Wittgenstein is forms of life and language-games.  (p. 5)

II.  Teaching Hermeneutics as an Interdisciplinary Course  (Sheffield, 1970-85)

a)  Course combining bibilical studies, theology, philosophy and literary history.

b)  public lectures on Wittgenstein.

c)  writing articles applying Austin to specific biblical issues.

d)  continued developing a course on hermeneutics and theorists which need to be included.

III.  The Two Horizons (Sheffield, 1980)

a)  The Two Horizons:  How do the two horizons of the ancient text and of modern readers actively engage with each other creatively without merely bland, passive, domesticating assimilation?

1-Heidegger’s “pre-cognitive worlds” developed by Ricoeur as narrative worlds of possibility.


a-fundamental stance of respect for the otherness of the horizon of the other.  The need to listen and question rather than to seek to master the other on one’s own terms  (imperialism associated with the “general method” of science (with later Wittgenstein as well)).

b-unlike postmodern perspectives, “…Gadamer acknowledges a degree of stability in the role of communal judgments, and in the corporate transmission of traditions.  Even if a ‘classic’ yields a plurality of actualizations, it belongs to cumulative traditions of acknowledged wisdom (phronesis).  p. 8  Thiselton on Hermeneutics.

1.  “These aspects laid the groundwork, first, for respect for the horizon of the other as other, and then for a disciplined movement and progress towards a fusion between the two horizons (Horizontverschmelzung) of past (or text), and present (or readers).  This could be achieved not by a universal scientific method at the level of rational reflection alone, but by hermeneutically trained judgement.”  p. 8

2.  dialectic between tradition at level of ontology and variable, finite, contextually conditioned contingencies of plural actualizations of the past in the present.  Gadamer develops this in modified form from Hegel.

a.  Georgia Warnke on continuity and rational coherence

b.  Joel Weinsheimer on contingency and plural actualizations (Univ of Minnesota)

3-Fourth part of Two Horizons:  similarities between “hermeneutically trained judgment” in Gadamer and patterns of regularity in the public domain of inter-subjective life in the later Wittgenstein.

a-Witt yields public criteria of meaning

1.  regularities of language-uses may count as performing this or that intelligible action or function, within given traditions or forms of life.

2.  Witt an account of particularities of context-variable meanings that simultaniously presupposed stable anchorages within this intersubjective public world.

b-specific cases where explication of conceptual grammar in NT would influence and clarify interpretations of the text.  “Faith”, “flesh”, and “truth” as polymorphous concepts , as issues of stance or action rather than mental states.”

IV.  Further Collaborative Research (1982-1985)

a)  Reader response theory valuable, but one-sided.

b)  reception theory and speech-act theory remain, in Thiselton’s mind, far more effective tools than reader-response theory.

V.  New Horizons in Hermeneutics (1992)

a)  An attempt to write a systematic volume setting out Thiselton’s herneneutic theory and practice; overall theme of transformation.  “How does biblical material interact with readers in such a way as to effect a transformation of stance, without itself undergoing change and distortion in the process?”

1- assess the role of 10 different models of hermeneutics

2-convinced that “the hermeneutics of self-involvement” including speech-act theory sheds a floodlight on the subject.

a.  John Searle’s phil of language to explain transformation  of bibical texts as promise.  Follows Austin. “the logic of illocutionary speech-acts, including acts of promise, direction and commission, presuppose states of affairs rather than either eliminating or describing them.  I argued that this insight is essential for a hermeneutic of the Christology of the Synoptic Gospels.  The status of Jesus as Christ is presupposed but not declared in such effective illocutionary acts as forgiving, liberating, promising, commissioning and commanding.”  p. 12

3-  Show uses of ten models in different aspects of Bibical writings in relation to different aspects of human life today.

VI.  On Speech-Acts, and Interpreting God and the Postmodern Self. (1992-1996)

a.  Majoring on role of speech-act theory for hermeneutics.  Read more widely and deeply in Speech-act theory.  “Authority and Hermeneutics”, in PE Satterthwaite and DF Wright (eds), A Pathway into the Holy Scripture, Eerdmans, 1994)

VII.  Some Possible Prospects and Agendas after 1996

a.  2 major paradigm shifts have occured in history of Biblical interpretation, each one breaking spell of previous controlling model.

1-Quest for freedom from dominance of ecclesial and dogmatic concerns associated with J.S. Semler and background of enlightenment rationalism.

2-This freedom hardened into a second paradigm; the historical method becomes institutionalized into a universal paradigm.  (threw off dogmatic theology to sell itself into bondage to history.)

3-A new, reactive quest for freedom in which recognized that “Interpreter’s choose their aim.”  Rapport with text’s author and factors which led up to first communication gives way to “success” as defending a specific area of modern or postmodern ideology, or in textual effects like reader-response theory or pietism, or undefined “edification” (social pragmatism of Richard Rorty?)  Threat of hermeneutical anarchy; manipulation that hermeneutical inquiry first sought to avoid.  (threw off history to sell itself to “literature” or to “politics”…the politics of gender, race, and class.)

a)  The dilemma of postmodernism is that no single value-system can be priveleged without ceasing to be “postmodern”, including any dogmatic version of postmodernism.   p  14

b)  best to engage more seriously with problem of manipulation.

1-  William O’Neill (Jesuit school of theology at Berkeley)

2-Richard Bernstein:  Beyond Objectivism and Relativism:  Science, Hermeneutics and Praxis

3- Read p 15-16 (starting 3rd paragraph) and summarize for notes.






Wirkungsgeschichte flows of of philosophical hermeneutics through Gadamer.

Rezeptionsgeschichte flows out of Husserl-Roman Ingarden= Wolfgang Iser and reader-response theory which is then developed by H.R. Jauss into rezeptionsgeschichte.

“Jauss, no less than Gadamer, perceives texts of literature as “existing” in the process of their collective interpretations of successive generations of readers, and in the textual effects or actualizations, of hitherto potential meaning by these successive generations.  Each generation (or more striclly, each “audience”) interacts with the text in terms of a different “horizon of expectations” (Erwartungs-horizont).  Like Gadamer, Jauss regards the text as “potential” until it is “performed”, like a script or score that finds its “reality” in the play or concert that perofmrs it interactively with an audience as an event.”  Thiselton, Thiselton on Hermenutics, p. 293.


Palmer’s point in writing:  “…an introductory treatment of hermeneutics in a nontheological context which will be directed at clarifying the scope of the term.”  p. 4

His book helps with the mapping out of

Three main origins of hermeneutics in the West:

1)  Greek background

2)  Hebrew/Biblical Approach

a)  Here I add Brevard Child’s “Canonical Approach”

3)  Western church development of issues “flowering” in hermeneutics as a philosophical, literary and theological issue.

4)  The non-Western work on hermeneutics, even if not so-called, has yet to be identified and added to the discussion.

a)  perhaps this work could be started with African ownership and actualization of the Western gospel it rec’d.

I.  Greek background

a.  seeks root meaning of “hermeneutics” by going back to its Greek linguistic roots:  Ηερμενευειν and Ηερμενεια.

“An exploration of the origin of these two words and the three basic directions of meaning they carried in ancient usage sheds surprising light on the nature of interpretation in theology…and will serve in the present context as a valuable prelude to understanding modern hermeneutics.”  p. 12

Robertson then cites Aristotles’ work  Peri Hermeneias or On Interpretation.

(Thiselton says:  “On Interpretation remains less useful for hermeneutics, since his main concern is abou the logic and rhetoric of propositions.  In biblical studies the significance of Aristotle’s work regained recognition only with the advent of narrative theory and reader-response criticism in biblical hermeneutics around the later 1970s.”  Thiselton on Hermeneutics, p. 18)

Robertson then limits his approach by focusing on the association of hermeneutics in its Greek form to the god Hermes and upon the three basic directions for the meaning of those terms.

He seems dependent, in connecting Hermes and hermeneutics, upon Heidegger rather than any original sources.

He also seems dependent upon Ebeling’s “Hermeneutik” for the direction of meaning.

I would like to work from the original sources rather than assume correct associations by those who have gone before.  My hope is that I might find a new way (which may really be a pre-modern way) of discussing hermeneutics and possibly find much that was lost in the interpretation of those works.

Therefore, I need to become familiar with:

1)  Aristotle’s work and early interpretation.

2)  Heidegger’s sources for connectin Hermes and Hermeneutics.

Unterwegs zur Sprache (Harper translation from Fuller)

On the Way to Language  P106.H3613 1971

3)  The sources of Ebeling’s 3-fold direction of meaning.

Hermeneutik in RGG (doesn’t seem to be available in translation)





This review is from Ebeling’s book Word and Faith.  Word of God and Hermeneutics is chapter XI.


I.  Ebeling begins the chapter with a review of the history of hermeneutics.  His retelling is narrowed  in relation to the rise of the problem of the Word of God in relation to hermeneutics.


1)  Before the reformation, Roman Catholic tradition had an answer to the hermeneutic question though it was not yet asked in its contemporary (to Ebeling) form.  The revelation testified in Scripture, they believed, cannot be correctly understood without the tradition of the church.  (305)


2)  The reformers’ response, “sola scriptura” was also a hermeneutical theory.  It held that the tradition of the church was not required to understand the scripture.  Scripture has an illuminating power which shines, even on church tradition.  (307)


3)  But the lack of clarity of this position led to problems and errors.

a)  Luther himself recognized the distinction needed between meaning   (res) and word (verba).  This led to problems between the Word of God and Scripture.  Later reformers attempted to safeguard their position.  This led to the Orthodox identification of scripture with the Word of God.

b)  The result was that exegesis found itself, once again, under the domination of a dogmatic tradition which was decisive in the case of doubt.


4)  The theology of the modern age used hermeneutics to undo these safeguards.  They brought out the  tension between exegesis and dogmatics, between scripture and the Word of God.  Eventually the concept of Word of God itself was called into question.  (308)


5)  The theology of the Word of God attempted to regain the reformation theme of the Word of God but seemed in danger of overlooking the hermeneutical problem.


a)  Barth:  passionate wrestling with the hermeneutical problem.  Sought a necessary corrective to critical historical hermeneutics:


The historical critical method of research into the Bible is right enough:  it aims at a preparation for understanding, and that is never superfluous.  But if I had to choose between it and the old doctrine of inspiration, I would definitely take the latter:  it has the greater, profounder, more important right, because its aim is the work of understanding itself, without with all prepration is worthless.  I am glad not to have to choose between the two.  But my whole attention has been directed to seeing through the historical to the Spirit of the Bible, who is the eternal Spirit.” (Romans, 1918, p.  xii)


I have been called a ‘declared enemy of historical criticism‘…But what I reproach them with is not historical criticism, the right and necessity of which on the contrary I once more explicitly recognize, but the way they stop at an explanation of the text which I cannot call any explanation, but only the first primitive step towards one, namely, establishing ‘what is said’…” (Romans, 1921, p. x.)


6)  Barth vs. Bultmann


a)  In common:

1-both address specific “matter” of theology (not historicism or psychologism)

2-both not return to hermeneia sacra and hermeneia profana.


b)  In contrast:

1-Barth’s passion for the Word of God tends to disparage hermeneutics while Bultmann’s interest in the hermeneutic problem appears to jeopardize what is said of the Word of God.

2-Barth begins with the hermeneutics of the Bible which he argues is valid generally, while Bultmann starts with a general hermeneutic which he then applies to the Bible.

a-“Where does the theory of hermeneutic principles just sketched come from?…It was with the only possible exposition of holy scripture in mind that we laid down the principles of exposition just given.  Certainly not in the belief that they are valid only for the exposition of the Bible, but fully believing that because they are valid for the exposition of the Bible they are valid for man’s word in general, that they have a claim to general recognition…valid hermeneutics must be learned by means of the Bible as the testimony to revelation.”  (Barth, Church Dogmatics I/2, pp.465 f) (310-311)

b-  “The interpretation of the biblical scriptures is not subject to any different condition of understanding from any other literature.”  (Bultmann, Glaube und Verstehen II, p. 231)

3-Barth takes an objective approach to the problem, while Bultmann sees the understanding itself as belonging to the matter.  Thus for Bultmann much time is spent on preliminary understanding.


7)  According to Ebeling, the debate is now bogged down, without even getting to the final alternatives.  One could move forward by a detailed analysis of Barth and Bultmann.  But he opts to focus on the structure of the problem our subject involves.

II.  The second section of Ebeling’s lecture focuses on the terms “Word of God” and “Hermeneutics”.  The emphasis is on the former as proclamation, even as event, with the latter, as helping move from holy scripture to proclamation, being the initial discussion which is the focus of part III.

“Word of God”, according to Ebeling, is “something that happens”, the movement which leads from the text of the holy scripture to the proclamation.  This is a decisive starting point for defining the phrase, regardless of ones position in terms of a precise theological definition.

The criticism of Orthodox doctrine of the Word of God is that it identifies scripture and the Word of God without distinction.  But according to Ebeling, the decisive shortcoming of the Orthodox view is that “holy scripture is spoken as the Word of God without an eye to the proclamation…”  (p. 312).  Though Orthodoxy was aware of the Word of God as the living voice of God (viva Vox) but “…too little attention was paid to the tension that exists between the verbum Dei as spoken word and the character of writenness.  (Palmer)  He notes that this is a divergence from the Reformation.

“Luther…insisted that the Gospel is really oral preaching:  ‘…in the new Testament sermons are to be spoken aloud in public and bring forth in terms of speech and hearing what was formerly hidden in the letter and in secret vision.  (Palmer)  “That, too, is why Christ did not write his teaching, as Moses did his, but delivered it orally, also commanded to deliver it orally and gave no command to write it…For that reason it is not at all the manner of the New Testament to write books of Christian doctrine, but there should everywhere, without books, be good, learned, spiritually-minded, diligent preachers to draw the living word from the ancient scriptures and constantly bring it to life before the people, as the apostles did.  For before ever they wrote, they had preached and converted the people by word of mouth, which also was their real apostolic and New Testament work…That books had to be written, however, is at once a great failure and a weakness of spirit that was enforced by necessity and not by the manner of the New Testament.'” (Kirchenostille 1522, Weimarer Ausgabe (Complete Works of Luther), 10/I, I, pp. 625.12-628.8.)

Ebeling notes that the distinction between the spoken word and scripture not only depended upon the difference between the Old Testament and the New Testament, but, as a presupposition of that issue, the relation of Gospel and law.

The essence of the Word belongs to its oral character, ie., as an event in personal relationship, that the Word is thus no isolated bearer of meanings, but an event that effects something and aims at something. (p 313)




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