Can a gospel convey truth? : an examination of the epistemology of New Testament hermeneutics with special reference to the Gospel of St Mark
This thesis explores the hermeneutical implications of a Barthian epistemology, so that the givenness (of knowledge, ontology, talk of God and Scripture, the community of the Church) is paramount. This priority challenges both 'liberal' despair and fundamentalist arrogation of true reference to theological language and appropriate Biblical interpretation. This hermeneutical position also faces the postmodern challenge that there can be any truth at all, and, in particular, truth brought through the deconstruction of textuality as a medium. Thus knowledge, and especially knowledge of God, the language used to communicate that knowledge and that language as Scriptural textuality are important features of the discussion. There is an exploration of the role of inter-subjectivity (and thus community) as a prerequisite for knowledge and truth claims, critical assessment of these, and a discussion of the different ways that various 'communities' interpret Scripture (focusing on St. Mark's Gospel). The presuppositions of the different starting places are brought into view and the appropriateness of methodologies and approaches discussed. Questions regarding certainty and critical control of this community-generated variety of readings are tackled. The Quest for the Historical Jesus is seen as a 'test case' for historical knowledge and also the need and appropriateness of different approaches to the Gospels. The 'problem' that the Resurrection and post-Easter faith always seem to pose to the Quest is challenged and the former is taken as a priority rather than a stumbling block.