Thursday, April 12, 2012

John Webster, Biblical Interpretation: Some Reflection

Here is how John Webster sums up his discussion on the relation of ‘The Word’ (Jesus) to biblical interpretation (hermeneutics). Webster
has been arguing against the usual modes of hermeneutical consideration, as anthropology; and through a resourcement of Barth, he is presenting a ‘way’ that provides for a thick dogmatically oriented mode of hermeneutical theory.

To sum up: because God in Jesus Christ speaks, because Jesus is God’s living Word, then the ‘hermeneutical situation’falls under the rule: ‘We do not know God against his will or behind his back, as it were, but in accordance with the way in which he has elected to disclose himself and communicate his truth’.52 Once this is grasped, then doctrines begin to do the work so frequently undertaken by anthropology or theories of historical consciousness in determining the nature of the hermeneutical situation, thereby making possible the ‘formed reference’ which is the basic mode of theological depiction. [John Webster, "Hermeneutics in Modern Theology: Some Doctrinal Reflections," Scottish Journal of Theology, 328]

In other words, modern hermeneutical proposals that seek to propound a theory of biblical interpretation that aren’t first given shape by a direct encounter with the Word (Jesus), dogmatically; will always fail to encounter Jesus for who he actually is because the interpretive event is not dominated by him, but them.

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