[personal profile] bible_student
Q: Christians believe that the "holy spirit" can inspire them. Hermeneutics is a field of academic study. What role does this "holy spirit" play in the practice of hermeneutics?

In my experience, academic disciplines hold demonstrability and reproducibility as core values (and, in some disciplines, requirements for advancement and publication). The goal is not just the knowledge but the demonstration of methods to acquire that knowledge, methods that others can use to verify (or refute) your findings. Thus, teaching the reader/student "how to fish" instead of just providing an answer (inspired or otherwise) is important.

Hermeneutics starts from the text. Even in the Christianity section of that article, no mention is made of the role of inspiration, even though it seems to me that for Christian hermeneutics specifically, there might be a connection. According to Wikipedia not a single one of the following hermeneutic methods is inspiration-driven:

  • Dispensation/Chronometrical
  • Covenantal
  • Ethnic
  • Breach
  • Christo-Centric (yes, even this one!)
  • Context

(The article lists but does not define other methods, which I have left out. In only one case, the Moral principle, does the name suggest that there could be a revalatory link.)

Even the harder-to-understand, undocumented-on-Wikipedia, explicitly-Christian methods of Systematic Typology and Sensus Plenior do not appear to have specific interaction with divine revelation.

The connection, if any, though, shouldn't be in the process, but in the source of insight. A scholar in any field might get a brilliant idea for a research pursuit in many ways -- though one of those serendipitous conversations that makes things "click", by daydreaming and introspecting, by seeing a related idea in an unrelated field... or by being divinely directed. It seems to me that, for a Christian, the role of the holy spirit is to point one in a direction, but not to tell one academically-valid truth. Note that you might accept what you learn this way as truth anyway, given its source, but since it's not demonstrable or reproducible, it can only be your truth. Which is fine for the individual, but not how scholarship usually works.

And, of course, for non-Christians the holy spirit isn't a consideration.
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