Present day problems in hermeneutics.

Current hermeneutical debates question whether we can ever know what the writers originally meant.

The discipline of hermeneutics is emerging as the new dominant movement in both European and American theology. The number of articles and books appearing on this topic is matched only by the magnitude of the questions they are raising.

These questions are not the traditional hardy annuals: What is literal and what is figurative? What is descriptive reporting and what is normative teaching? Instead, our generation is being invited to ask the most fundamental question of all communication and interpretation. It is, surprisingly, in the area of general hermeneutics that the debate has aroused the sharpest disagreement. The implications of this debate for the evangelical and for the interpretation of Scripture are enormous. Our energetic entry into this discussion is thus no longer an optional luxury; it must be placed highest on our list of investigative priorities.

The New Orientation

The basic crisis is this: hermeneutics is more a matter of the text interpreting itself and the interpreter, than it is our interpreting the text. It is not the former focus on “What does the text mean?” or “What did the author mean?” Rather, we now ask the text to interpret us, and to become itself a new event as we read or hear it.

This new orientation has sprung from the philosophical roots of Martin Heidegger, who concluded that understanding happens when the reality to which language points becomes present for the individual and merges in such a way as to coincide with his own present reality.

Currently, however, the most important theoretician of philosophical hermeneutics is Hans-Georg Gadamer. In Wahrheit ...

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