Schrift als Grund und Grenze von Interpretation
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The article discusses the concept of external clarity (part 1), the often underestimated affinity of theological to jurisprudential hermeneutics (part 2) and the aesthetical idea of a reader-oriented constitution of meaning (part 3). Whereas Luthers principle of clarity challenged the historical approach of modern hermeneutics (1) and whereas the necessity to decide between conflicting claims is an essential feature of practical disciplines and their focus on judgements (2), the plenitude of possible interpretations encourages personal understanding and appropriation (3). But none of these three perspectives justifies any attempt to override the phenomenon of the text by the arbitrariness of interpretation. On the contrary, the infinite process of understanding and the concreteness of a given text require critical methods, scientific investigation and the hermeneutical virtue of patience in order to foster a sense for otherness within human understanding. Even though there is no such thing as the one and only method to discover the original meaning of texts, Scripture may still be understood as a principle of theology: as its origin and at the same time its limitation, as a source of present self-understanding and as an indication of boundaries beyond which Christianity would not be recognizable any longer. Thus, theological hermeneutics combines the tasks of historical reconstruction, of systematic understanding and of individual application.