HERMENEUTICAL RECONSTRUCTION AND DISCOURSE ETHICS: A CRITICALASSESSMENT OF FRANCIS SCHUESSLER FIORENZA’S CONCEPT OF ‘THE CHURCH AS A COMMUNITY OF INTERPRETATION’

Michael Haspel

Abstract


The essay offers a critical assessment of Francis Schuessler Fiorenza’s influential
concept of the church as a community of interpretation. A first section focuses on his
argument that processes of the interpretation of tradition within the church can
actually contribute to normative discourse in the public sphere. The way in which
Fiorenza, engaging with Habermas, develops his idea of political theology
somewhere between discourse ethics and hermeneutical reconstruction is explored
critically. Against this background, a second section then focuses more specifically
on Fiorenza’s concept of a community of interpretation, both from a social and an
ecclesiological perspective. It is argued that the notion of community remains
unclear. It can be understood as institution, organization or life-form. The
concluding argument is that the question how the reinterpreted ethical traditions of
Christianity can contribute meaningfully to public discourse calls for greater clarity
concerning this notion of community.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7833/82-0-897

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ISSN 2305-445X (online); ISSN 0254-1807 (print)

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