I need to finish an essay by the end of the week. 5000 words discussing this quote from Gordon Fee:
(Hermeneutics is a fancy word for "interpretation".)
It still feels all messy (on the page as well as in my brain), but I'm way more interested in this topic than I thought I would be. It might prove to be some groundwork for my thesis. Who knows?
Anyway, the basic argument goes like this:
- Hermeneutics "must be" a community affair because every interpreter is affected by the community, culture, and tradition they come from.
- As Christian interpreters of Scripture, we are "indebted" to the church in history in that there have come before us a "great cloud of witnesses" who have been interpreting and living the Scriptures ahead of us.
- To interpret inside the great Tradition of the church, then, is to take seriously the hermeneutical practices of those who have come before, especially the ancient church, where the New Testament was being written and the canon was being formalized.
- This does not mean we abandon sola scriptura, but simply that we have a better understanding of what it actually means.
- Since everyone interprets out of a "tradition" and according to "rules" it only makes sense to interpret out of the great Tradition of faithful Christians who have gone before, and using the "rules" of interpretation that were common to the early church fathers and the Reformers.
- This means that we can adopt the three basic principles of interpretation that were present in the early church fathers: (i) interpreting according to the "Rule of Faith" (the essentials of the gospel), (ii) interpreting through the lens of the wholeness of Scripture, (iii) interpreting with Christ at the center of the whole Bible.
That's not a refined outline, but you get the picture. What concerns or questions do you have when you think about taking seriously the interpretive practices of the early Christians?