Thursday, October 21, 2010

Kevin Hector on postliberal hermeneutics

The Expository Times started a yearlong series in October on trends and developments in contemporary theology, with an opening paper by Peter Hodgson on liberal theology.  The November issue continued with an article by Perry Schmidt-Leukel on pluralist theologies.  The latest issue of the journal has just come out, and includes an article by Kevin Hector on postliberal hermeneutics, particularly considering Frei and Hauerwas on scriptural interpretation.  Following is the abstract.
This essay considers two “postliberal” approaches to biblical hermeneutics: that of Stanley Hauerwas and of Hans Frei. Both are committed to the integrity and particularity of the biblical narratives and so reject the assumption that these narratives should be fit into putatively general interpretive frameworks, but they disagree about the implications of this commitment. For Hauerwas, it entails that Scripture’s meaning is available only to those who have been transformed through churchly discipline, whereas for Frei, it entails that the meaning of the biblical narratives must be ‘directly accessible’—it entails, that is, that there must be no gap between the narratives and their meaning, between their meaning and their ‘plain sense,’ nor between the narratives and the ‘essence’ of the one they depict.

Prof. Hector offered an illustration in our Glaubenslehre seminar yesterday to explain an account of God's omnipresence whereby "the effects of His causal being-in-Himself are everywhere".  The illustration involved a paper on hermeneutics as an effect of Prof. Hector's causal being-in-self that exhibited his presence in some sense.  Was the hermeneutics paper to which he referred this one, perhaps?  In any case, as you read about Frei and Hauerwas on biblical interpretation, you may want to be aware of the Hectorian presence in the published effects of his causal being-in-self.


  1. Seems like, in some ways, a revisiting of the Trinitarian conversation of "Is the economic Trinity the immanent Trinity? (Rahner)". In other words, is there 'reserve' to God's communication, such that it's not 'plainly accessible' (Hauerwas), or is God self-identified with the narratival account of God's action(Frei)?

  2. Hector's article provides a nice overview of these thinkers. I've not read much Hauerwas, but would like to think he really doesn't affirm what Hector ascribes to him. Nevertheless, Hector seems to be a careful reader, so I suppose Hauerwas probably affirm that bit about the text not having meaning.

    It seems like an embarrassingly bad position to hold, though.

    Incidentally, what does the phrase "causal being-in-self" mean? And, if the quote is from Schleiermacher, could you give a citation (I'm curious - Welker just lectured on the Glaubenslehre this week)?

  3. The quote is from the Glaubenslehre §53. Here's the reference in translation on Google Books.

    Schleiermacher's point here, as I understand it, is to discuss divine omnipresence without falling into a sort of... pantheism, maybe... in any case, without evacuating God of any divine distinction through use of spatial imagery. So Schleiermacher talks of God being in Himself, and His presence being in His effects. He references Hilary and Augustine as doing similar things, and Augustine's Ep. 187, de Praesentia Dei Liber on the idea of God being in Godself.