Original Research: Cross-cultural Religious Studies

Reformation hermeneutics and the spirit of humanism

Jun Wang
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 80, No 3 | a9783 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v80i3.9783 | © 2024 Jun Wang | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 07 March 2024 | Published: 30 May 2024

About the author(s)

Jun Wang, Department of Philosophy, Academy of Humanities and Social Sciences, East China Normal University, Shanghai, China


The Reformation had a profound impact on hermeneutical practices by challenging ecclesiastical authority and emphasising interpretive freedom, addressing a crucial gap in historical theology. This study aimed to assess the influence of Martin Luther’s principle of self-interpretation of the Bible and Matthias Flacius’ organismic methodology, which builds on that principle, on the foundations of modern hermeneutics, particularly the methodological hermeneutics represented by Schleiermacher and Dilthey. Set within the context of the 16th-century Reformation, the study conducted a rigorous textual analysis of historical theological documents, revealing a significant paradigm shift towards more inclusive and rational interpretations of sacred texts. This shift, aligning with emerging humanistic values, marked a lasting transformation in the field of hermeneutics.

Contribution: The primary contribution of this study lies in its detailed exploration of the historical roots of modern hermeneutics, highlighting the Reformation’s pivotal role in shaping contemporary interpretive methodologies. By elucidating the connections between theological reforms and hermeneutical practices, this research enriches the discourse on the development of hermeneutics and underscores the enduring relevance of Reformation-era innovations. These insights provide valuable perspectives on the interplay between historical and contemporary hermeneutical theories, closely aligning with the intersection of historical theology and interpretive methodologies, thus offering a significant contribution to the field.


self-interpretation of the Bible; Luther; Flacius; Reformation hermeneutics; humanism.

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