Hermeneutics and the Study of History

By Wilhelm Dilthey; Rudolf A. Makkreel et al. | Go to book overview

1
SCHLEIERMACHER'S HERMENEUTICAL
SYSTEM IN RELATION TO EARLIER
PROTESTANT HERMENEUTICS (1860)1
TRANSLATED BY THEODORE NORDENHAUG

597


SECTION ONE
HERMENEUTICS BEFORE SCHLEIERMACHER

1. The Earliest Systems of Hermeneutics:
Flacius, Franz, and Glassius

The Origin of Hermeneutics

The science of hermeneutics actually begins with Protestantism, although the art of exegesis and reflection on it are, of course, much older. There are, for example, hermeneutical passages in Origen2 and in the writings of the Antioch School, as well as the seven rules of Tyconius.3 Even more extensive discussions can be found in the third book of Augustine's On Christian Doctrine and in the second book of Junilius's4 well-known work, Instituta regularia divinae legis (Rules for the Divine Law).5 But as important as these writings are for the history of the canon and doctrine, one cannot really call the scattered statements they contain a scientific treatment of the subject. They are, rather, an agglomeration without a connecting principle. Their form reflects the inherent lack of independence of Catholic exegesis. As a result of the battle against Gnosticism, the legacy of the Apostolic Age had been placed under the protective custody of the authority of tradition. Henceforward, hermeneutics

____________________
1

This is a translation of Dilthey's prize-essay on Schleiermacher's hermeneutics, which he submitted in 1860. Only one section of the text (GS XIV, 612–18)was published by Dilthey himself as part of the essay “Das natürliche System der Geisteswissenschaften im 17. Jahrhundert, ” Archiv für die Geschichte der Philosophie 6 (1893): 69–95 (GS II, 115–36). The full prize-essay was first published in 1966 by Martin Redeker in GS XIV, 595–787. Pagination in the margins refers to this volume.

XIV, 595

2
Origen (185–254), Church Father, head of the Christian school of Alexandria.
3
Tyconius (d. before 400), Donatist theologian.
4
Junilius Africanus, high official under Byzantine emperor Justinian.
5
[Junilius, Instituta regularia divinae legis], Gallandi Bibl. XII, 79ff. ; [Matthias] Flacius [Illyricus], Clavis [Scripturae Sacrae] (Basel, 1580), II, pp. 158ff. (D)

-33-

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