Saturday, September 12, 2009

Categorizing the Hermeneutical Landscape

I'm now on my third draft of an introduction to a proposal. I hope this new approach is a winner. Here's a summary. Any critique?

Primary stimuli of developments in late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries
1. presuppositional changes: such as non-supernaturalism and those who read the Bible as they might have read other books

2. developments in contextual understanding: a) deepened perspectives on literary context because of reading the words as one might read other books and b) deepened perspectives on historical context because of engagement not only with already known literature, but also with increased archaeological discoveries of other ancient literature and material culture.

Trajectories that emerged
1. non-engagement with these developments: those outside the West who were not exposed to such discussions, revivalists, Pentecostals, dispensationalists to some extent. They not only continued with traditional presuppositions, but continued largely unaware of how to read the biblical books in context, read the texts a-contextually as primary default.

2. accommodation to many of these developments, including non-supernaturalism: mainstream Christian institutions. Miracles are part of a mythological worldview. Jesus was an exemplary individual and model to be emulated but not divine, Bible inspired like other literature

3. rejection of these developments: engaged fundamentalists and neo-evangelicals. Clear acceptance of supernaturalism and historical context accepted in principle, but varying degrees of rejection of contextual conclusions, Bible/Babel controversy, parallels often denied or reinterpreted, primary focus on alternative explanations of data

4. acceptance of contextual readings of the Bible but with supernaturalist presuppositions: In our typology, this group accepts the consensus opinions of mainstream scholarship (which evangelical scholars often do not) but does so in the belief that the Scriptures do indeed give witness to God's saving events within history. Individuals like Oscar Cullmann come to mind.

5. rejection of the historical paradigm as the principal paradigm for understanding Scripture. In some respects, this is an informed return to the pre-modern paradigm of #1. Karl Barth perhaps is a forerunner of this approach in that he advocated the idea of the Bible "becoming" the word of God as God speaks through it. Barth was well aware of historical critical interpretations but did not find them the locus of Christian significance to the biblical texts. In the same way, theological interpretation today rejects historical context as the be all and end all of Scripture's meaning.


Ken Schenck said...

I should clarify that when I said like other books I mean how meaning is constructed

Ken Schenck said...

Follow up now that I have a little bit more time... what I mean is reading words in a verse in the light of the words that come before and after, with some attention to how those words might have struck their original audiences. I did not mean reading the words of the Bible with the same expectations of truthfulness, inspiration, or authority as other books.