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“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
...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
There is no real safety in being negative. As William James pointed out, a negative choice commits the chooser just as much as a positive one does.
Mary Midgley in Science as Salvation p.110
Those who give the most lip service to the sinfulness of this world are often those who most want to conserve the way things were 50 years ago.
MOI
For in Christ neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is anything. The only thing that counts is faith working through love.
Galatians 5:6
Marsden is rightly contemptuous of the fatuous idea that an infusion of 'values' separated from a comprehensive world view would make any difference in the present state of affairs.
Wilfred M. McClay in 'Why the Academy Needs Christians' May/June 1997 Books and Culture
Johann Winer, whose grammar first appeared in 1824...introduced a revolution into the study of the Greek New Testament by adopting and substantiating the premise that Biblical Greek, and particularly that of the New Testament, was not a special 'Holy Ghost' language, nor a conglomerate of Greek words and Semitic grammar, but the ordinary colloquial tongue of the day, spoken through the Graeco-Roman world.
Dana and Mantey, Manual Grammar of the Greek NT (vii-ix)
'I knew that danger lay ahead, of course; but I did not expect to meet it in our own Shire. Can't a hobbit walk from the Water to the River in peace?' 'But it is not your own Shire', said Gildor. 'Others dwelt here before Hobbits were; and others will dwell here again when Hobbits are no more. The wide world is all about you: you can fence yourselves in, but you cannot ever fence it out.'
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring, p. 122-123
The ultimate key to self-management is to ground your life in the love of God and others. Unless you do, you will continue to lead the breathless life.
Robert Ramey, Jr. The Pastor's Start-Up Manual
Prayer needs to carry with it the commitment of our whole being to bring about the just conditions that make prayer possible...
Don Postema, Space for God, p. 158-59
Bach's music is much more valuable proof of the existence of God than any of the theological proofs.
Vladimir Fetsmin, Russian Pianist, Newsweek, Aug. 1, 1994
Those like myself whose imagination far exceeds their obedience are subject to a just penalty; we easily imagine conditions far higher than any we have really reached. If we describe what we have imagined we may make others, and make ourselves, believe that we have really been there.
C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves, p. 128
Theology has become like a troll, which though wise is 'small and ugly, not risking itself to be seen in public.'
Ched Myers, Who Will Roll Away the Stone? p. xxii
C.S. Lewis says...the proper rewards are not simply tacked on to the activity for which they are given, but are the activity itself in cosummation. So it is with the Christian doctrine of reward.
Archibald Hunter, A Pattern for Life
The task of the theologian, like the task of the preacher, is to write theology in such a way as to persuade modern people.
John Leith, Basic Christian Doctrine, p.9
Gerhard Ebeling

Gerhard Ebeling

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

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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.

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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)

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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)

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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.

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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)

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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.

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

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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)

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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.)

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6)  Barth vs. Bultmann

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a)  In common:

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

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

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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.

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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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