One of the Few Things Barth Got Right Was the Hermeneutical Circle

Which he got right from Paul-

The natural person has no room for the gifts of God’s Spirit; to him they are folly; he cannot recognise them, because their value can be assessed only in the Spirit. The spiritual person, on the other hand, can assess the value of everything, and that person’s value cannot be assessed by anybody else. For: who has ever known the mind of the Lord? Who has ever been his adviser? But we are those who have the mind of Christ.  (1 Cor. 2:14-16)

Like it or not, Paul’s assertion that only those gifted with the Spirit understand the gifts of the Spirit is true.  Dwelling outside the hermeneutical circle doesn’t mean one is a bad historian.  But it does mean one is a terrible theologian and a worse exegete.  All protestations to the contrary notwithstanding.

3 thoughts on “One of the Few Things Barth Got Right Was the Hermeneutical Circle

  1. I wouldn’t say Barth got this right.

    Barth took most of his hermeneutics–indirectly–from Origen, who infamously misread 1 Corinthians 2 as having something to do with hermeneutics. (It doesn’t.) Origen made the blunder, of course, because he was the one who invented the notion that Scripture was written by the Spirit. Barth followed him in the blunder because he was seemingly drawn to blunders in general.


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