Friday, June 29, 2007

Barth on free exegesis

...the Church makes a mistake about the Bible, so far as she thinks that in one way or other she can control right exposition and thereby set up a norm over the norm, ad ought to and can seize upon the proper norm for herself. Bible exegesis should rather be left open on all sides, not, as this demand was put by Liberalism, for the sake of free thinking, but for the sake of a free Bible. Self-defence against possible violence to the text must be left here as everywhere to the text itself, which in practice has so far always succeeded, as a merely spiritual-oral tradition simply cannot, in asserting its own life against encroachments by individuals or whole areas and schools in the Church, and in victoriously achieving it in ever-fresh applicatios, and so in creating recognition of itself as the norm.

-Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics I/1
(trans. G. T. Thompson; Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1936), 119.

Reminds me of the Spurgeon quip about defending the Bible is like defending a lion (which gets quoted in various forms, so I won't try a verbatim quote). There is, however, a place for certain kinds of defence (apologia); Barth is not justifying a fundamentalist fideism (which is how the Spurgeon quote is often used), but is speaking specifically about defending the freedom of exegesis, allowing God to speak afresh through the Scriptures.
Ten points for the country. Fifteen for linking to the photo I posted earlier of the building in which this armour is kept.

22 comments:

Drew said...

I really like this quote.

In listening to people defend their reading of a text as a norm for reading Scripture, I often get the feeling that they value their defense higher than the Scripture they want to safeguard.

Christopher said...

Before being tempted to some blog-procrastination I was reading this:
It was in fact Karl Barth who first taught me that the subject is not a centralizing master but rather a disciple or auditor of a language larger than itself. - Paul Ricoeur

Similar point I think, although maybe Ricoeur could have been a closer disciple of the free Bible, rather than free thinking.

Michael Canaris said...

Italy?

Doge's Palace: Venice?

antman said...

How can we break preachers out of teaching people that they (themselves, their church, or tradition) has the one true interpretation of a section of scripture, or worse All of Scripture?

byron said...

Drew - it's scary when you get this feeling (and scarier when you realise you're doing it yourself (and scariest that you can do it without realising!)).

Christopher - thanks for the quote.

Michael - good try, but no.

Antman - thumbscrews?

Moffitt the Prophet said...

Austria

byron said...

Nope, sorry.

Remember, it will link to another picture (of a building). So far, no Austrian buildings...

peter j said...

It'd have to be in the British Museaum in England.

Christian said...
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Christian said...

Christian said...
If Peter J is right about the location of the photo...I think I may have spent an hour tracing that exhibit as a kid. We went on a primary school outing to the British museum: I remember that horse and a whole lot of Egyptian relics.

byron said...

Sorry Pete, not the BM (and so I don't think it was this horse you traced Christian) - remember, you need to link to the photo for the extra points. Though just getting the country gives you ten. If you've never learned how to link, here's your chance to do a basic tutorial and get some practice.

Moffitt the Prophet said...

France???

byron said...

France indeed. Ten points to Moffitt.

byron said...

Points still available to linking to the post with the picture of the building it's in.

Moffitt the Prophet said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
byron said...

You mightn't want to give such secrets away... :-)

Moffitt the Prophet said...

What secret??? Tee hee...

Moffitt the Prophet said...

Here?

byron smith said...

Nice work. Have another fifteen my friend.

At this rate, you'll soon catch Anthony. I wonder if he's noticed that you are stealing a march on him?

byron smith said...

Oops - I meant to get you to link to the post, not the image. But since I already awarded the points, here is the post.

Moffitt the Prophet said...

A march in March. so when you ask us to link to the photo, do you want a link to the post or to the image?

byron smith said...

To the post (because part of the point is another way for people to dig back into old posts). I should have been clearer about this from the start. I will try to be so in future.