Deconstructing general hermeneutics / (re)constructing a Biblical hermeneutic
Khushf, George Peter
Kelber, Werner H.
Doctor of Philosophy
The post-modern predicament can be seen in the conflict between general hermeneutics and deconstruction. General hermeneutics seeks to develop the "modern" project of understanding understanding. It is concerned with universality and meaning, sublimating otherness and difference in the "merging of horizons". Deconstruction subverts such a drive to universality, seeking to open up differences where there is a presumed unity. It tears horizons apart. Protestant interpretation of Scripture has been closely associated with general hermeneutics. However, an evaluation of Rudolf Bultmann's thought shows how any so-called general hermeneutic involves implicit commitments to natural theology which conflict with doctrines of special revelation that are implied by the principles of sola fide and sola gratia. In this way the generality of general hermeneutics is deconstructed. Instead of beginning with an independently derived hermeneutic, which directs the interpretation of Biblical texts, one should begin with the kerygmatic content, and develop its hermeneutical implications. Through a careful examination of the implications of Luther's account of justification, it can be seen that the point of departure for interpretation is not a generally determinable "plain sense" of the text, but rather a particularly determined ambiguity, opacity and polyvalence. Through the text's content, which is the Word of God, there is a metaphorical transfer from a grammatical metaphoricity to a divine metaphoricity, in which an initial linguistic displacement in the text is reduplicated existentially as a shift from the indeterminate absence to the hidden presence of God. This metaphorical metaphoricity provides an alternative to Babel, which is the Derridian "metaphor of metaphors". The metaphorical metaphoricity that grounds justification can be seen in the incarnation, which is thematized by John's Gospel. Through an account of the logic and rhetoric of revelation in John's text, a hermeneutic of revelation can be derived, which does justice to the unique dynamics of Scripture and its function in the Christian community. The singular juxtaposition of universality and particularity that takes place in the incarnation provides a third alternative to the competing movements that constitute the post-modern predicament.
Theology; Religion; Biblical studies; Religious history