Hermeneutic-phenomenology has grown out of the 20th century phenomenological philosophies of Husserl and Heidegger as well as the hermeneutic tradition itself, which began with the Protestant Reformation as a method of interpreting scriptures, and later became a 20th century philosophy concerned with the issues of understanding itself.
The word hermeneutics, is derived from Hermes, the Greek deity who was seen as the messenger between man and the Gods.
In order to deliver the messages of the Gods, Hermes had to be conversant in their
idiom as well as in that of the mortals for whom the message was destined. He had to
understand and interpret for himself what the Gods wanted to convey before he
could proceed to translate. [Mueller-Vollmer, 1985: 1]
Hermeneutics began as the practice of interpreting Biblical texts, once again bringing the ‘message of the Gods’ to mortal man. With the 18th century Enlightenment, hermeneutics became a philosophy as well, the study of the principles of understanding. At this time there was an underlying belief that there was a correct way of understanding; that there were principles and methods for interpretation. Once again the hermeneutic philosopher became a messenger between the author of a text and the reader.
With Schleirmacher and the 19th century Romantic movement, hermeneutics moved away from a concern with the correct interpretation and became “concerned with illuminating the conditions for the possibility of understanding and its modes of interpretation.” [Mueller-Vollmer,1985: 9] For Schleirmacher and Humboldt this art of understanding was integrally rooted in language.