Abstract

This essay uses the philosophy of Paul Ricoeur to explain the implicit hermeneutics of recent examples of theological interpretation. Adopting the language of the "hypothesis of the text," Ricoeur's continental literary theory is adapted for Anglo-American theological contexts. In particular, the hypothesis of the text accounts for interpretive plurivocity, constraints on meaning, and the contingent nature of theological interpretations. The hypothesis is shown to afford critics the tools with which to analyze and evaluate individual theological contributions while philosophically grounding the methods various interpreters deploy during interpretive practice. As a demonstration of how this actually functions in evaluative scenarios, recent contributions from Ephraim Radner, R. W. L. Moberly, R. R. Reno, and Stanley Hauerwas are analyzed, with attention being paid to their methodologies, the way their hypotheses project textual worlds, how individual texts can admit multiple hypotheses, the contextual, contingent nature of interpretations, and how an invalid hypothesis is identified and overturned.

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