The Role of Context in Biblical Hermeneutics.

The Role of Context in Biblical Hermeneutics. Essay example
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Religion and Theology
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This paper is an attempt to demonstrate how this is so, and why this is so. It begins with a brief examination of the role of context in communication in general, which will then be applied to the activity of textual interpretation using the concept of the hermeneutic circle…

Introduction

Context plays a central role in the act of biblical interpretation. This paper is an attempt to demonstrate how this is so, and why this is so. It begins with a brief examination of the role of context in communication in general, which will then be applied to the activity of textual interpretation using the concept of the hermeneutic circle as developed by Frederich Schliermacher and Hans Georg Gadamer. Consider the following statement: “The Monkees are the greatest band ever.” On the face of it, the meaning seems obvious. It is a statement of the relative worth of The Monkees by comparison to all other musical acts throughout history. It implies that when compared with, say, the Rolling Stones, The Beatles, The Metropolitan Opera Company, and all of the Homeric bards, that the Monkees come out on top. However, this is not necessarily the meaning the statement is intended to convey. If it is said in a grave voice, it may mean just this. If it is said in an excited voice while at a concert, we may take it as earnest hyperbole. However, if it is said in a hipster infested coffeehouse, we may take it to mean precisely the opposite. The meaning of any statement is subject to the same sort of factors. Their sense cannot be determined by the examination of the mere words used, rather they must be understood with reference to the total situation in which they are spoken. As this is with spoken communication, so it is with written texts. ...
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