Religion and Theology
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The hermeneutical circle is one of the central dilemmas of philosophy, and by extension Christianity. The basic definition of the circle is that an understanding of a 'text' (and this can imply any kind of communication which is being evaluated) can only be established through referring to the individual parts.


The 'meaning' may be open-ended, but the particular text that is being considered is a close-ended circle because of the self-referentiality of individual parts and whole (Jasper, 2004).
Christianity is based upon a number of tenets, including the idea, at least within the Protestant faiths, that the Bible is in fact an "organic whole" rather than a series of contrasting individual texts that have been gathered together over quite a long period of time. Yet on another note, the only way for a Christian to understand many parts of the Bible is to refer to other parts of the Bible for understanding. This is the self-referentiality of the Bible that can be seen as a part of the hermeneutical circle.
A central example is the 'nature of God' which has concerned Christians for more then 1900 years. The various manners in which God reveals Himself within the Bible, particularly in reference to the contrast between the Old and New Testaments, might seem to be contradictory. The same God who asks for the first-born to be killed and demands that one of his faithful kill his own son to prove his faith is also the same God who reveals that love, mercy and forgiveness are the central aspects of his nature in the New Testament (Goldsworthy, 2007).
It is the closed circle of self-referentiality that is found within the Bible is the answer to that question. ...
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