Monday, 25 February 2008

Diem on Scripture, Doctrine and the Apostolic Tradition

I'm currently reading Hermann Diem's Dogmatics, which is providing me with essential background material for understanding Childs. I came across the following quote, which I thought I'd post as an update to my previous post on Luke 24 and the Dogmatic/Exegesis Relation.

“Our study has brought us constantly face to face with the circular argument that the Spirit which has inspired Scripture can be recognised only by the Spirit which they alone have who are apo Kuriou Pneumatos (II Cor. III. 18). Nowhere is there given any definite hermeneutical method of exegesis such as would furnish secure grounds for this recognition, nor can one be subsequently inferred from the practice of NT exegesis ... . Moreover, it is not the isolated individual believer nor the theologian, in his interpretation of Scripture, it is rather the Church as such (cf., for example, I Cor. II. 6-16) which moves within this circle. But the Church is never confronted immediately by Scripture in its bareness. Just as according to the Synoptics Jesus Himself must open to the disciples the mind of Scripture, so the later Church has Apostolic doctrine which with Apostolic authority appeals to the Lord Himself as the key to the right understanding of the Bible. Hence we receive no hard and fast hermeneutical principle for the exegesis of Scripture, but a new tradition of proclamation and doctrine which claims to be the right understanding and exposition of Scripture and also to test Scriptural exegesis. Hence our question about the authorisation of Gospel teaching and proclamation must be addressed to this Apostolic tradition itself." (1959: 178)
I find this fascinating and challenging.


Esteban Vázquez said...

Wow. Many thanks for this.

Bob MacDonald said...

Phil - yesterday I wrote a note that I think anticipated this post of yours: "... living in [Christ] by the Spirit, through the mediation of the written word and in part through our traditions, my reading of the written word has changed - not to maximalism or minimalism or inerrancy or any other superficial doctrine, but to recognition - seeing in the written word the covenant, the dialogue, the presence, and the invitation, and I am not disappointed."

There is and was one gate for me - the death of Christ. Without this entry and my participation in it, I would not be entering or exploring any of these books except that I might still be influenced by them. I consider that this gate is sufficient. There are still many issues that do not allow for an aristotelian 'solution'.

Phil Sumpter said...

Esteban, thought you might like this. I'm now skimming throught the chapter on the apostolic tradition, desparately trying to understand Diem while keeping within my time budget.


thanks for sharing this. Diem goes into the fact that there are no external controls to guaranteeing that we meet Christ in the scripture. It's rather Christ who meets us. It's nice to hear of someone having that experience.