Title page for ETD etd-05122012-124456

Document Type Doctoral Thesis
Author Labuschagne, Pieter Hendrik Johannes
Email lizepieter@mweb.co.za
URN etd-05122012-124456
Document Title Die oneindige proses van historiese verstaan (Afrikaans)
Degree PhD
Department Old Testament Studies
Advisor Name Title
Prof J H le Roux Supervisor
  • hermeneutics
  • Von Rad
  • temporal distance
  • historical understanding
  • Verstehen
Date 2012-04-10
Availability unrestricted
Hermeneutics has always been concerned with understanding, which has led to the development of numerous methods and approaches to assist the interpreter in his own attempt to understand. In text immanent methods, which became very popular over the last century, the final text was analysed and studied on etymological, syntactical and grammatical levels. The interpreter just had to apply the rules of his method objectively in order to expose the truth which was locked up in the text.

These approaches were shaken to their core with the bloom of historical criticism. Now, for the first time, the authenticity of the final text of the Bible was openly questioned. This was a major shock to Bible readers. One Old Testament scholar, Gerhard Von Rad, lived in the middle of this whole storm, but instead of rejecting the claims of historical criticism, he used what they offered him to extract meaning from the text.

Von Rad used the final text of the Old Testament as a point of departure but then asked how this text developed historically. Through an in-depth study of the text, he discovered sources that stood out as building blocks for the development of the Old Testament - different traditions had come into existence over time and there were drawn together into the final text of the Old Testament. Von Rad discovered the Credo which he identified as the most basic testimony Israel had preserved. He then continued to show how this Credo was interpreted and reinterpreted in every new generation in Israel. With the aid of this Traditionsgeschichte he understood the historical growth of the Old Testament and that help him with his Verstehen of the final text.

Hans-Georg Gadamer was a philosopher who lived in the same era. He was also concerned with historical understanding of texts from the past. With his Wirkungsgeschichte he asked about historical interpretations of the text. The constant flow of interpretation and reinterpretation over centuries, helped him understand ancient texts better. He did not see the temporal distance between the original author and the modern interpreter as a threatening abyss but believed that it was rather filled with opportunity.

In this dissertation we look at the contributions of Von Rad and Gadamer and how it assists us in understanding Verstehen. Man is a historical being, who exists against the backdrop of history. It is this historical Dasein of man and his Geworfenheit in the world that makes it possible for him to understand texts from the past. Gadamerís fusion of horizons, rooted in manís historicity, bridge the gap between the past and the present. Where synchronic text immanent methods reject all subjective influences, Gadamer and Von Rad point to the nature of manís inescapable historical being Ė man comes to understand by dealing honestly with his own Geworfenheit in this world. We learn that Verstehen is not concerned with an absolute truth that must be gained as an object, but Verstehen is an on-going historical process involving manís whole being. The interpreter is part of an on-going process of coming to understanding.

© 2012 University of Pretoria. All rights reserved. The copyright in this work vests in the University of Pretoria. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission of the University of Pretoria.

Please cite as follows:

Labuschagne, PHJ 2012, Die oneindige proses van historiese verstaan, PhD thesis, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, viewed yymmdd < http://upetd.up.ac.za/thesis/available/etd-05122012-124456/ >


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