Oliver Davies

in The Oxford Handbook of Systematic Theology

Published in print September 2007 | ISBN: 9780199245765
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology


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Hermeneutics concerns the act of interpretation. It is closely related to, though not to be identified with, the science of semiotics, which is the study of meaning. Hermeneutics presupposes that the act of meaning will be plural, requiring choices to be made. The first section of this article focuses upon the pre-modern hermeneutical tradition, when issues to do with the interpretation of texts were implicitly present and functioned either as biblical hermeneutics in engagement with scriptural texts or as an extended form of biblical hermeneutics in engagement with the world. The sections that follow discuss the modern hermeneutical tradition, when theological kinds of hermeneutics need to negotiate their proper validity in dialogue with secular accounts of meaning. The article concludes with a discussion of the state of hermeneutics today, when Christian claims to validity in interpretation are shaped by community, narrative, tradition, and concern for the ‘real’.

Keywords: interpretation; semiotics; biblical hermeneutics; scriptural texts; Christianity

Article.  8194 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Philosophy of Religion

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