Tuesday, June 10, 2008

"How does it look from where you stand?"

“If the hermeneutics of conviction declares, ‘Here I stand,’ the hermeneutics of humility asks, ‘How does it look from where you stand?’ The false humility of deconstruction degenerates into a despair of language and of our ability to interpret. True hermeneutic humility, on the other hand, is willing to receive something from the other, from the text, and from other interpreters. Does humility before the test rule out a critical moment in which the reader assesses its context? Am I advocating hermeneutic fideism: ‘Love God, and read as you please’? No, for understanding must be tested. Christian interpreters must endure every test that critics care to throw at them. Testing and enduring: these are signs of rationality and humility alike. Interpreters should never idolize their interpretations. I am seeking a degree of interpretive confidence somewhere between pride and sloth – the humble conviction that stands firm, even while acknowledging that it is rooted on earth rather than looking down from heaven. We do not yet have absolute knowledge. Yet we do have adequate knowledge, enough to respond to the overtures of the Word. Our first reflex upon being addressed should be one of trust. We must at least be willing to hear the other rather than drown out its voice, even when its message is a potential threat to our way of being in the world” (Kevin Vanhoozer in Disciplining Hermeneutics, 159).

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