Augustine – The Interpreter’s Toolbox

Francis Watson has provided a summary list of the requirements for interpretation found in Augustine’s De doctrina christiana. This list presents an ideal, for even Augustine doesn’t live up to all the points (#5). Cognizant of his own shortcomings, he nevertheless proclaimed a daunting standard. Seminaries today hardly have such high aims.

  1. A firm grasp of the telos of Holy Scripture and its interpretation, which is to engender the love of the Triune God and of the neighbor and nothing else.
  1. A personal orientation toward holiness and the fear of God.
  1. An ability to reach an informed decision about the precise scope of the scriptural canon.
  1. An intimate familiarity with the entire Bible.
  1. A knowledge of Hebrew and Greek, to facilitate clearer understanding of authorial intention.
  1. An expertise in textual criticism, so as to eliminate corruptions of the text.
  2. A broad acquaintance with secular sciences, especially history and logic.
  3. An ability to identify and decide between competing exegetical possibilities.
  1. An awareness of the differences between current social conventions and those of the biblical past.
  2. An understanding of scriptural tropes and rhetoric.
  1. A sense of the manifold interpretive possibilities of the biblical text—possibilities intended by the author and/or Holy Spirit, in token of the divine abundance.” (“Authors, Readers, Hermeneutics” in Reading Scripture with the Church, 122)
No, I don’t know why the formatting did that.
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Published in: on June 15, 2011 at 1:59 pm  Leave a Comment  
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