Testimony to revelation : Karl Barth's strategy of Bible interpretation in Die Kirchliche Dogmatik
This thesis examines the strategy of Bible interpretation employed by Karl Barth in Die Kirchliche Dogmatik. The guiding principle of this strategy is Barth's conviction that the Bible ought to be treated as testimony to God's self-revelation in history. "Testimony' is understood to be capable of providing a reliable source of historical knowledge. As such, it enabled Barth to interpret the Bible in a way sensitive to the requirement that Bible interpretation be rational and historical and also capable of responding to modem insights into the nature of the Bible. Part I shows that Barth sought a strategy of interpretation that would be true to history. For him, the Christian understanding of history is dependent on the resurrection of Jesus Christ (Chapter 1). This leads to the conclusion that interpretation which is true to history is interpretation in the light of Jesus' resurrection (Chapter 2). Making use of Alisdair MacIntyre's discussion of the nature of rationality, it is shown that Barth stands in a tradition of historical enquiry that is different from, but no less rational than, that of modem secular theorists. Considering further the matter of rationality, Part II asks whether Barth's strategy provides good reasons on which to base assertions. Chapter 3 describes his treatment of the Bible as testimony and shows that he saw testimony as providing a means to knowledge. Chapter 4 defends this approach in the light of modem epistemological discussion. Chapter 5 describes in detail how an appreciation of testimony applies to Barth' s Bible interpretation. Part III considers examples of Barth's Bible interpretation and, in the light of them, asks whether his strategy is capable of taking account of modem insights into the nature of the Bible. Chapter 6 discusses the tremendous variety found in the Bible and Chapter 7 asks what happens if variety becomes outright contradiction. Finally, Chapter 8 looks at issues surrounding the recognition that the Bible is literature.