Original Research

Historical consciousness and existential awareness in Karl Barth’s hermeneutics

G.M.M. Pelser, Andries G. van Aarde
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 63, No 4 | a268 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v63i4.268 | © 2007 G.M.M. Pelser, Andries G. van Aarde | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 07 May 2007 | Published: 07 May 2007

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G.M.M. Pelser, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Andries G. van Aarde, University of Pretoria, South Africa

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Karl Barth’s hermeneutic legacy prolonged Western Christian tradition, especially influenced by Hegelian philosophy of history. This led to Barth’s “theological exegesis” instead of a historic-critical exegesis. In a preceding article Barth’s understanding of the notion “hermeneutic circle” is discussed against the background of the Enlightenment and its counter-movement in Romanticism. In this article Barth’s attitude to the place and role of historical criticism is explained in light of his dialectic distinction between “scientific” and “practical” interpretation. The article aims to show that Barth, with his dialectics, continues Schleiermacher’s realism. In conclusion, the positivistic traits in the Barth legacy are raised once again, in order to open the door to Jürgen Habermas and other deconstructionist thinkers of the postmodern era in hermeneutics.


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