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date: 31 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

While Karl Barth avoided the question of hermeneutics and theological method, preferring to focus on the actual exegesis of Scripture, his work is thoroughly—albeit often implicitly—hermeneutical. His hermeneutics, however, is always determined by the subject matter. Over against historical critics who advocated a posture of feigned neutrality, Barth argued that the interpretation of a text requires a participation in its subject matter. Barth’s hermeneutics thus changed over the course of his career as his understanding of the subject matter changed. The eschatological subject matter of his early theology led to a hermeneutic of simultaneity. The historical subject matter of his later, Christocentric theology led to a hermeneutic of description. This chapter argues for an apocalyptic subject matter that unifies the eschatological and the historical and generates a bifocal hermeneutic.

Keywords: apocalyptic, bifocal vision, eschatology, historical criticism, history, normativity, objectification, participation, simultaneity

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