QOTD: Karl Barth the ‘Biblicist’

I’ve started working on a post about presuppositions and their place in biblical interpretation and hermeneutics… but it may be a while before it actually sees the light of day. I’ve got lots of pondering to do.  Until then, I thought I’d share this quote from Karl Barth which inspired the post yet to be:

“When I am named ‘Biblicist’, all that can rightly be proved against me is that I am prejudiced in supposing the Bible to be a good book, and that I hold it to be profitable for men to take its conceptions at least as seriously as they take their own.”

– Karl Barth, The Epistle to the Romans, sixth edition (p.12)

As part of my thesis on Barth’s Der Römerbrief and theological interpretation, I am looking to explore how we might determine which presuppositions we should and should not bring to the text, or if it’s even possible to, in a sense, ‘check them at the door’ when we go about the task of interpretation.  And what’s the role of the Holy Spirit in all of this?  And… well, I have a lot of questions.  Stay tuned!

QOTD: Karl Barth on Exegesis and His Der Römerbrief

“My sole aim was to interpret Scripture.  I beg my readers not to assume from the outset–as many in Germany have assumed–that I am not interpreting Scripture at all, or rather, that I am interpreting it ‘spiritually’.  In this context the word ‘spiritually’ is used, of course to convey a rebuke.  It may be however, that the rebuke turns back most heavily upon those who launch it so easily against me.  The publication of this book in English may perhaps lead to a fresh formulation of the problem, ‘What is exegesis?’  No one can, of course, bring out the meaning of a text (auslegen) without at the same time adding something to it (einlegen).  Moreover, no interpreter is rid of the danger of in fact adding more than he extracts.  I neither was nor am free from this danger.  And yet I should be altogether misunderstood if my readers refused to credit me with the honesty of, at any rate, intending to ex-plain the text.  I must assure them that, in writing this book, I felt myself bound to the actual words of the text, and did not in any way propose to engage myself in free theologizing…”

– Karl Barth, The Epistle to the Romans (sixth edition, p.ix)