Chapter & Verse
Old Testament\u00b7 Hebrew Bible
New Testament\u00b7 New
Old Testament apocrypha
New Testament apocrypha
Old Testament canon
New Testament canon
Authors of the Bible
Johannine works\u00b7 Pauline
Vetus Latina\u00b7 Vulgate
Gothic Bible\u00b7 Luther Bible
Dating the Bible
Dead Sea scrolls
NT textual categories
The Bible and history
Biblical inerrancy\u00b7 Biblical
Criticism of the Bible
Biblical law in Christianity
Islamic view of the Bible
Biblical narratives and the
Gnosticism and the New
Judaism and Christianity
is part of the broaderhermeneu tic al question, relating to the problem of how one is to
understand the Holy Scripture. By definition, this is atheo logic al act, i.e., part of the
discourse of afaith-community. This does not mean that it is of no relevance to those who
do not consider themselves to be part of that community, but rather that it is an issue that
arises out of the particular needs of that community.
Therefore one ought to differentiate betweenChristi an andJewish Biblical hermeneutics:
although there is an overlap between the two (and some form of dialogue), since they
share part of their scriptures, they do arise out of different faith traditions and thus
developed their own notion of hermeneutics.
Until Friedrich Daniel Ernst Schleiermacher, Biblical hermeneutics was usually seen as a form of special hermeneutics (like legal hermeneutics): the status of Holy Scripture was thought to necessitate a particular form of understanding and interpretation.
Since the days of Schleiermacher, however, it has become increasingly common, at least
inacade mia, to read Scripture just like any otherwri ting, though precisely what that
means is not without dispute. Schleiermacher argued against a distinction between
'general' and 'special' hermeneutics, and for a general theory of hermeneutics applicable
to alltexts, including the Bible.
Since Schleiermacher's days, the concept of 'hermeneutics' has acquired at least two
different (related but nevertheless distinct) meanings, both of which are in use today:
firstly, in the older sense, Biblical hermeneutics may be understood as the theological
principles of exegesis; in fact, it is often virtually synonymous with 'principles of biblical
interpretation', or methodology of Biblical exegesis.
Secondly, the more recent development is to understand the term 'Biblical hermeneutics'
as the broaderphilosoph y,Linguist ics, etc. underpinnings of interpretation - in other
words, the question is posed: "how is understanding possible?" The rationale of this
approach is that while Scripture is 'more than just an ordinary text', it is in the first
instance 'text', which human beings try to understand; in this sense, the principles of
understanding any text apply to the Bible as well (regardless of whatever other
specifically-theological principles one might want to consider in addition to that).
In this second sense, then, all aspects of philosophical, linguistic, etc. hermeneutics are considered to be applicable to the Biblical texts as well. There are obvious examples of this in the links between 20th century philosophy and Christiantheo log y: for example,
and in particular by the philosophy of Martin Heidegger; and since the 1970s, the
philosophical hermeneutics of Hans-Georg Gadamer have had a wide-ranging influence
on Biblical hermeneutics as developed by a wide range of Christian theologians. The
French-American philosopher Rene Girard follows a similar trail.
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