Schleiermacher’s Interpretation of the Bible: The Doctrine and Use of the Scriptures in the Light of Schleiermacher’s Hermeneutical Principles

Ian S. Wishart


Interpretation of the bible is often considered to be the task of communicating the message of the scriptures in an age whose thought and common life have little in common with ancient Palestine. The problem of communication is a problem of media: should the Church not employ modern media of data-processing and electronic systems to reshape the minds of men and women in conformity with the Christian ethic, or should the individual Christian not conclude that the time for words is past, and by direct action demonstrate what God’s love for suffering humankind may mean in some particular area of human life?

Schleiermacher, long before the age of McLuhan or Leger, had thought deeply about the problems of communicating the gospel and the medium of communication, and he had an answer set out in principle which he elaborated in his own practice. The Church lives by preaching; in proclamation a Christian gives expression to personal consciousness of God, and in so far as being an official spokesperson of the Church gives expression to the common consciousness of the Christian community. This proclamation germinates in the consciousness of the hearer, stimulates there a consciousness of God, of sin and redemption, and issues in action which is the ethical result of faith.

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