STILL PLAUSIBLE AND INTELLIGIBLE? TOWARDS A HERMENEUTIC OF CONGRUENT BIBLICAL THEOLOGY FOR TODAY
AbstractThis article focusses on the question of whether a hermeneutic of congruent biblical theology, founded in the classic reformed tradition, can still be regarded as plausible and intelligible for doing theology and applying Christian ethics today. The central theoretical argument of the discussion is that a hermeneutic of congruent biblical theology in the abovementioned sense can still be plausible and intelligible under specific conditions. First and foremost: Scripture should be seen as the written revelation (Word) of God, inspired by the Spirit of God, and as more than just an ancient text. This inspiration can be termed “organic inspiration” because the Spirit inspired and used humans, within their cultural and socio-historical contexts, their spiritual experiences, languages and expectations to write the texts. Approaching Scripture from this premise, interpreters should for understanding the text, read the text using the modern tools of lexicography and deal thoroughly with the cultural and socio-historical contexts of the ancient authors and the implications thereof. In this process, interpreters must be aware of the fact that they approach Scripture with various forms of pre-understanding and should deal with these by way of the tools of the hermeneutical circle. Passages in Scripture must be analysed and interpreted in light of the wholeness of Scripture and its congruent biblical theology. Furthermore, a “hermeneutic of congruent biblical theology” can add value to biblical studies and new theological knowledge by considering findings in modern literary theories as long as these do not disregard the belief that Scripture is the inspired authoritative written Word of God. Lastly, a hermeneutic of congruent biblical theology must function within the ambit of the Reformed dictum of “semper reformanda” – the quest for continuous revisiting and reevaluation of the findings of biblical interpretation in the course of history.
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