Sunday, April 28, 2013

Characteristics of a Hermeneutical Community - A Bibliocentric community, but a Community Linked with Tradition?; In the series: GEMEINDETHEOLOGIE: Who & How?

It has been argued thus far that this community is Bibliocentric, but what about the role of tradition or doctrine. What role do they play in a hermeneutical community?
While focusing on the local community, Holder also identifies in Calvin an appeal to a larger "transhistorical community, through the appeal to earlier authorities."[1] Conversely, "Anabaptists who accepted that the church has a role in biblical interpretation located this role in the present rather than the past, in the local congregation rather than a monolithic structure." In general, Anabaptists discouraged the "exploration of earlier writings." Murray claims that this was due to the Anabaptists' radical view of the fall of the church. While this "released Anabaptists from dependence on past authorities to make fresh discoveries," Murray laments that it "impoverished their interpretation and deprived them of much scholarly and spiritual counsel." Ultimately, he sees this as an important warning that it is "unnecessary so completely to jettison the contribution of earlier generations."[2] 
Treier, dealing with the interaction of theological interpretation and doctrine, suggests that imitation allows us to learn virtuous judgment, and consequently echoes what he sees as Fowl's warning that "contemporary Christians need to pay attention to ancient Christian interpreters."[3] Thiselton, also dealing with doctrine, emphasizes that doctrine does not inhibit innovative thought. On the contrary, according to him, "only within a tradition of firm communal identity-markers can constructive 'going on independently' be distinguished from maverick idiosyncrasy and self-indulgence." Therefore, doctrine is not "unimportant, repressive, or merely theoretical,"[4] rather it is a good safeguard and consequently a good hermeneutical tool for the hermeneutical community.

[1]Holder, "Church as Discerning Community in Calvin," 285n37.
[2] Murray, Biblical Interpretation in the Anabaptist Tradition, 158, 180-81. Murray is not the only one to lament the Anabaptists' jettison of tradition. The majority of the authors that discuss this issue do likewise.
[3]Daniel J. Treier, Introducing Theological Interpretation of Scripture: Recovering a Christian Practice (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2008), 89.
[4]Thiselton, The Hermeneutics of Doctrine, 97. According to Thiselton, the system (doctrine) furnishes coherence and boundary and identity markers. He postulates that this is what is seen in the second and third century when "the communal identity of the apostolic church, founded upon biblical writings, could be publicly discerned through what Irenaeus and Tertullian called 'the rule of faith.'" While life experiences were different between each believer scattered throughout the ancient world (life-world), "the interaction between life-world and system guaranteed a continuity of recognizable corporate identity as this trans-local church." (140)

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