Hermeneutics, Epistemology & the Knowledge of God

Programme module

After introductory reflections on epistemology and hermeneutics, the module will progress in two movements.

The first will establish the theological and epistemological foundations for our hermeneutical explorations. Here we will examine Christian accounts of human knowledge of God and creation in the light of the creator-created distinction, the fall of humanity and redemption, using biblical and other material. We will describe and examine key proposals for a sound epistemology in the Western tradition, considering objections to these proposals from Sophism, Scepticism, Nihilism and Post-Modernism. And we will evaluate the hermeneutical and theological implications of these epistemologies, as well as their objections, using worked examples and scenarios.

From this theological and epistemological foundation, the second part of the module will focus on hermeneutics in the stricter sense. Here we will describe and examine various hermeneutical approaches, devoting particular attention to their epistemological underpinnings, theological implications, and conception of the relationship among author, text and reader. We will focus on specific hermeneutical issues, such as dual authorship, semiotics, the situated-ness of the reader and the relationship between interpretation and theology. And we will discuss fitting strategies for Christian appropriation of hermeneutical disciplines in order to nurture Christian faith.

Together, these theological, epistemological and hermeneutical discussions will provide a backdrop for the module assessments. For the seminar paper, students will describe and critically evaluate a major objection to human claims to knowledge, indicating possible well-framed Christian responses to that objection. For the exegetical paper, students will explore a passage relating to the knowledge of God but will use and critically evaluate different hermeneutical techniques in doing so. And for the event and written account, students will present sophisticated knowledge pertaining to the human knowledge of God to a non-technical audience and provide a critical evaluation of both the presentation and its specific subject matter.

This module offers students a sophisticated account of the interrelationship among ontology, epistemology, and ethics in order to provide them with a theological account of how one knows God and interprets Scripture.”