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Durham e-Theses
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Bonhoeffer’s Ecclesial Hermeneutic
The Practice of Biblical Interpretation in 1930s Germany

ROSS, JAMESON,EAN (2019) Bonhoeffer’s Ecclesial Hermeneutic
The Practice of Biblical Interpretation in 1930s Germany.
Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This thesis argues that Dietrich Bonhoeffer was above all a biblical interpreter. It contributes to scholarship on Bonhoeffer by attending to his interpretive practice in the 1930s. Bonhoeffer’s ecclesial hermeneutic consists of a self-reflective form of interpretation in which the ecclesial context is taken for granted, creating and shaping a closely related hermeneutical framework and interpretive practice. In its structure the thesis shows this coordinated relationship by oscillating between Bonhoeffer’s explicit hermeneutical reflections (theory) and his actual interpretation of biblical texts (practice). Demonstrating how this relationship is carried out in detail, the thesis offers close readings of texts. After the Introduction situates the argument in relation to Bonhoeffer scholarship and outlines the project, chapter 1 shows that Bonhoeffer’s biblical interpretation in the 1930s is indebted to the ecclesial hermeneutic he developed already in 1925 in a student essay. Ecclesial acts of theology and preaching proceed through “pneumatische Auslegung,” interpretation on the basis of the Spirit. That hermeneutical framework is on display in his 1932 book, Schöpfung und Fall, (chapter 2) and in his sermons from London in 1933-1935 (chapter 3). These new contexts forced further development of it, so that in 1935, in new circumstances again, Bonhoeffer reflected on hermeneutical questions, producing a textured version of his earlier ecclesial hermeneutic (chapter 4). As the analysis of interpretive acts in chapters 2 and 3 displayed how the 1925 hermeneutic worked, so chapter 5 returns to interpretive activity in order to show what the newly inflected ecclesial hermeneutic of the Finkenwalde period looks like in practice by analyzing two sections of Nachfolge. The Conclusion suggests that Bonhoeffer’s relation to Scripture is best understood by utilizing the doctrinal resources of Pneumatology, carefully relating divine and human action in interpretation, and that his ecclesial hermeneutic contributes to conversations about how to interpret Scripture today.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Theology and Religion, Department of
Thesis Date:2019
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:04 Jun 2019 13:39

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