Paul Ricoeur and the Biblical Hermeneutics

By Bondor, George | Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies, Winter 2010 | Go to article overview

Paul Ricoeur and the Biblical Hermeneutics


Bondor, George, Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies


Abstract: The main aim of this paper is to analyze the texts in which Paul Ricoeur discusses the relation between biblical and philosophical hermeneutics and to argue that biblical hermeneutics is the central part of Ricoeur's philosophical project. If the modern hermeneutics (Schleiermacher, Dilthey, etc.) aims to reveal the general principles of interpretation that can be applied to every text, including the sacred one, Ricoeur's biblical hermeneutics reveals the limits of general hermeneutics when it deals with an unusual text. The consequences of the biblical hermeneutics refer to specific problems such as revelation and faith, but also to philosophical themes such as the self and its place in the world.

Key Words: Biblical Hermeneutics, Exegesis, Interpretation, Paul Ricoeur, Text, Discursive Forms, Narration, Self

Introduction

The purpose of this text is to analyze the way in which Paul Ricoeur discusses the relation between philosophical and biblical hermeneutics. I argue that biblical hermeneutics, especially because of its ontological and existential consequences, is the central part of Ricoeur's philosophical project.

Starting with the universal philosophical hermeneutics of Schleiermacher and Dilthey the following question appeared: Are there general rules of interpretation that can also be properly applied to a very special text as the sacred one? Or, on the contrary, must the philosophical hermeneutics rethink its status at the meeting with exceptional texts and phenomena? Does not philosophical hermeneutics have much more to learn from its meeting with biblical hermeneutics than conversely?1 Biblical hermeneutics takes from the philosophical hermeneutics a minimal organon, which Ricoeur exposed in an answer given to Don Ihde, an organon that includes the categories of text and interpretation, the explanation-understanding dialectics, and the reflection on the role of the reader and of community.2 But biblical hermeneutics is not a simple application of general hermeneutics, mainly due to the absolute originality of the central referent of the Bible (the name of God and of Christ) and of the world proposed by it, called the Kingdom of God.3

Ricoeur discusses this issue in several writings, the most important being: the chapter "Introduction to Bultmann" from The Conflict of Interpretations (1969) and the chapter "Philosophical Hermeneutics and Biblical Hermeneutics" from the book From Text to Action: Essays in Hermeneutics II (1986), initially published in the collective volume Exegesis. Problèmes de méthode et exercices de lecture.4 To these we may add some texts which were generally published in collective volumes which develop one aspect or another of the mentioned issue.5

Hermeneutics of the Text and the Analysis of Discursive Forms

Interpretation became a genuine philosophical problem when it was no longer understood as a secondary aspect of philosophy, but was recognized as an independent phenomenon, worthy of being investigated for itself. This happened when, in addition to the already existing special hermeneutics (sacred, legal, literary), a general hermeneutics was also formed (Scheiermacher, Dilthey), which meant to be a universal methodology of understanding, applicable to any type of text. In the twentieth century, together with Heidegger's and Gadamer's phenomenological projects, hermeneutics defined itself as an ontology, namely as an interpretation (Auslegung) of the being of man, a being whose constitution is a hermeneutical one. Between the two orientations - the hermeneutics of texts and that of existence - there seems to be a significant difference. Paul Ricoeur's philosophical reflections explore exactly this distance that seemed to be irreconcilable. Although he seems to rather choose a methodological hermeneutics, he does not exclude for any moment the ontological stake of hermeneutics. After dealing in his first papers especially with the issue of symbol, his writings from the second period (starting with the 70s) highlight the concept of text.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Paul Ricoeur and the Biblical Hermeneutics
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.