Full Text for Analogia Fidei as Hermaneutical Principle (Text)

Analogia Fidei as Hermeneutical Principle "l'eoplc treat the Scriptzlres so scientifically that they l~zight quite as ~l?clL he nnclLy1rLozls ~uriti~gs)'~' 'Tire 13ibIicc~L i:lteirlll-etatiou of ~i~ediocrity goes or interpretiizg zvor~is ttntil it gets out of them its own trivial 7lzen~~ing.l) "The exegete is to ilzteq7ret Scripture, after he has sesyor-zsibly heard what Scsij:~tz,~re has to say. A~zd how is he to hear withoztt zuzdel-standii~g? ?'he prob1en.z of i~zterpretatioit~ is j~recisely that of zi~?ders~u~zding ."" 1ierlr~clze1,lt.i~~ is the techniqzle of zrndersta~~dirzg espressio~ls of life set in ~~ritte?~ ~OYJTL. Wilhel-vrz I)iEthejl. E AR1,Y IS THE 18th century Jean Turrctini, professor at Geneva, suggested that the I-loly Scriptures arc to be explained as any othcr I~ook. 3clonging to the school of "rational orthodoxy," Tarrctini Iicld that God is the author both of reason and of revelation; it is ii~lpossible that these should ever bc in mutual opposition, a point of view generally llelcl by philosophers. "Naturally cr7eryone, Papist, Lintheran, or l>lcfornled finds his o.cv11 dogmas in Scril~turc, and tllerc is IIO one who on the basis of a reading of Scripture would divest hihse!f of his preconceived opinions," Turretini observecl. \Ve IIILIS~ thcrt-3for~ clear our nlinds of all ideas, opinions, and systems of our 01~11 day and attelilpt to put ourselves into the times and surroundillgs of the Apostles ant1 Prophets who wrote. Probably taking his lead froin John Locltc, Turretini advisec-i that one 111ust Iteel' this paramount rule of interpxetatiorl in mit~d: "A11 enipty Ilcad, if I may express n~yself, 111tist be brought to Scripture: one's head must bc 3 tcr??ula rasa if it is to comprehencl the true and original meaning of Scripture."" iibc~~t the middlc of the 20th century Rudolph Bultmann, major historian of the K.T., exegete, and hil lo sop her of history proposed that theology must lenm lloiv to speak to ;i seneration which had become con~plctely alienated bv coilvcntional ~nterpreta- tion. Bultma;?~~ hail stucliecl the exegetical n~ethod of 'Theodore of Ailopsuesitia. His studies wcre nlotii~atecl by the desirc to interpret the N.'T. Ilistorically, i.e., to determine what is actually said. So he dedicated himself to the task of understantling (Vel-stelzer-z) what a giveit N.T. :iuthor n;or:ld hnvc mc2nt by the wortis he uscd, and IIOT~ thc readers for who111 he wrote \i.o~~ld have undcrstoocl 11i111. It: must bc remembered that Gcrnlan Protcstallt theology of tllc 19 th and 20th centuries was peculiarily attentive to insights \-c-hicli hacl bee11 clevelol~ed in philosophy and the scicuccs. 3Ien such as Harnack a11c1 Schiveitzer wcre scientific historians, conscious of the ncccssity of setting earliest Christianity in its iinnlecliate historicnl contest. Great- ly ir~fIuenced by the prevailing pl~ilosophy of the day (esistcntialisrn), Rult~~lann ce~ttcrcd his concern on an existential intcxprctation of the N.T. 'This means that the esejiete ~n~ist dcteriilioc what the text says today tc a Illail involved in living out his existence in the world. The theological task coi~sists in thc "unfolcli~~g of that unclerstanding of God and of the \~iorld and Inan which arises from faith."? Bultmalln haiillllcrccl out the cletails of his method between 1922 and 1928, a period in rvhicli he Tvns nclmittedly under the strong influence of Martin Heidegger. Buitmann insists that if one is to understand the N T. writers ancl their esyression of the lnean- ing of the Cllristian faith, the interpreter i~lust approach the N.T. with so111e Icincl of question (Frage) or previous understanding. This Rult~l~ann calls Vorverstne7zd~zis. ."Every interpretation is actuated by the framing of specific cluestions ancl without this there could be no interl3retation at all. Thesc questions neect not be framed explicitly or co~lsciously; but unless they are framed, the tests have nothing to say to t~s.".: In one of his most important monographs, Bultmann poses the c~ucstion : "1s Exegesis Presupl~ositions Possible?" ( 1 9 5 7). The question is answered affirmatively and negatively. Exegesis lllust not presuppose its results; (it does so vc~llen it is guiclccl by prejudices). On the other hancl, there can be no such thing as prcsuppositionless exegesis. One l~resupl7osition is the historical 111cthocl of questioning thc tcst, paying attention to the mcaning of words, grammar, anif style. The Ilistorieal method includes the l7resupposition that llistory is a unityin the sense of a closed contirluunl of effects, Nor can one object to the position dlat the biblical writings arc not intcilcled to bc ' historical tlocuinents, but rather affirmations of faith and proclama- tion. Bihlicnl tcxts must be translated; this also presupposes undcr- standing. Bult~~~anli coilcludes that the exegesis of biblical writings must be unprejudiced, but not without presuppositions because his- torical interpretation presupposes the method of historical-critical research. Thcre is also presupposed the "life-relationJJ of thc exegete to tile sul~ject matter; this is also pre-understanding. I suggest that ntrnlogin fidei ]nay be uxidcrstoocl as Vorvcrstne~lrE- nis, that is, the iilterprcter nlay approach the l~crmencutical task with a clefiilitc conviction, principle or criterion according to which he operates. Is this 3 valid assunlption? Is there a 1,utIleran-confessions! (ilncl 13il)lical) Vorverstae~td~zis? Is it the time honored 1,uthcran 111-inciple of n/zalogin fidei? I. A quite trnclitional apl~roach to Biblical interpretation will be recognizetl in the following theses : 1. Since the Scripture says of itself that it is able to "malte a illall wise to salvation" we postulate thc De7.~tlich.keit of Scripture (perspicz.ritas). 2. Since we declare that the Scripture is clear we also declare that the Scripture lliust be its 011111 interpreter, that is, the Scripturc interprets itself. In so doing, it reveals its one true sense. (Fnczrlatns se iysawz iinterprctazdi Script~rne)~ 3. Since Scripture interprets itself, we must hold ourselves '(a72 gezvisse Regeln." 3. LIftcr taking as "rules" the need to study words, context, poiut of: x'iciir, pLirpose of ivritiilg, ancl the need to interprete the obscure passagcs accordiizg to the bright ones, all in- terl~retation ]nust be "~znch tier (3lnube~zsaeh7-lli~7~~7zeit'~ (Rom. 12: 7). 5. By nlzalogin fidei ~vc understand "die Szlln~ize der geoffe~z- 37clrtc~r Clnz~bc.rzsZehre~z" which arc taught in Scripture by xlicans of bright, clear ~vords. Or, we understand "die Schrift selbct" and not only the sun1 of its prominent truths. A~znlogia or r-egzlla fidei constitute thc Gln~lbensregel.~ R,!an)7 such "position statcments" could be cited. The analogy of faith "is cviclcntly thc Scripture itself, the summary of the chief articles of faith draw11 fro111 the clear passagcs of Scripture."j Clear passages of Scripturc nus st not be set in opl3osition to other clear passages of Scripturc, that is, "clear passages lllust not bc rcjectcd or reinterprcted because reason cannot cliscer~l how they are in agree- ment with otlier clear passages." Thc associatioil of clear passages with the "w111e of faith" is found in Chemnitz (Esn~~zen, VIII, 1) and in Gerhard (Loc. T7zco. 1,25,5 32) who clearly referred Ho111. 12 : 6 to the avtic~rlii fi~lci. 11. \Vas heisst nltnlogin fidei? The word "analogy" suggests a rela- tion of proportionality betmen words or things that are otherwise different, e.g., exist at different levels of the ontolo~ical scale. "Anal- ogy," in Grcck usage, nleans similarity or harmon~ous relationship. The \vor