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  • Print publication year: 1997
  • Online publication date: May 2006

4 - The scope of hermeneutics

Summary

Whatever its other responsibilities may be; Christian theology cannot evade the task of biblical interpretation. It is in the biblical texts that the irreplaceable primary testimony to the God acknowledged in Christian faith is to be found. According to Christian faith, this God cannot be directly deduced from general features of the world and our human experience of it, and the effect of this is to emphasise our dependence on a highly particular stream of religious and cultural tradition: the history of Israel, which for Christians reaches its climax in the events that brought the Christian church into being, and which at its deepest level is not merely a component of the general history of the world but the privileged 'place' in which God is uniquely disclosed and acknowledged. There is no access to this 'place' except by way of the biblical texts, and biblical interpretation is therefore theology's primary task - the object of interpretation being the biblical texts in their integral relation to that to which they bear witness.