Being Interpreted by the Parables

Critical Realism as Hermeneutical Epistemology

In: Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus
Donald L. Denton Jr Southwest Baptist University, Bolivar, Missouri, USA,

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N.T. Wright’s historical Jesus work, along with his approach to New Testament studies generally, is informed by a hermeneutic grounded in a critically realistic epistemology. This latter can appropriately be considered a hermeneutical epistemology, and its impact on both Jesus studies and parables interpretation is evident in Wright’s work. It is of course grounded in the cognitional theory of Bernard Lonergan, but may be furthered by the holistic historiography derived from observations of R.G. Collingwood, as well as the phenomenological-hermeneutical tradition represented by Heidegger and Gadamer, and ultimately the application to biblical hermeneutics by Ricoeur. Lonergan’s ‘world mediated by meaning’ and Heidegger’s ‘mode-of-being-in-the-world’ both make knowledge radically hermeneutical; Ricoeur’s world-projection in the narrative sees the narrative parable’s function as world-encompassing, similar to Wright’s worldview-subversion. All of these have in common that they are irreducibly participatory or hermeneutical.

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