B-Greek, not B-Hermeneutics

Edward Hobbs (EHOBBS@wellesley.edu)
Sat, 21 Dec 1996 12:41:44 -0500 (EST)

May I strongly second the pleas of both Adam and Conrad, that we not
turn this wonderful and good-tempered List into a B-Hermeneutics List?

As several have said, hermeneutics is an exciting subject, and terribly
important. But that is not our focus on this List, important as it is.
I may have contributed a bit to the sudden expansion of posts on the
subject, by applauding Carl Conrad's brief remarks recently. But I did
so precisely because he stated the grounds on which we can discuss the
Greek Bible with each other, with mutual benefit, without having to agree
with each other's religion, faith, beliefs, or even hermeneutics. He
was clear, I think, that the only hermeneutics which is verboten on this
List is one which says that only MY hermeneutics is acceptable. That is
much like saying that the one thing not tolerated is intolerance.

We have had a number of years on this List with remarkably good temper,
and remarkably good tolerance of theological stances and religious
attitudes by most posters. It is a far wider range of viewpoints than
that of my own scholarly world, and I treasure that.

It so happens that I was the first professor in 20th-century America to
be given the title "Professor of Hermeneutics" when I was promoted to
full professor. And you might be interested to know that I permitted
no student in any of my seminars on the subject who was not fluent in
German, as well as the Biblical languages. I see no point in discussing
Gadamer with students (or others!) who do not read his work in German, since theEnglish translations of most of his work are dismal, as is the case with
the important work of Heidegger and of many others. My own interest
in the field does not lead me to wish to discuss it with a wide group
of others, unless they also know this literature.

This List requires a reading knowledge of Greek, and some
acquaintance with lexicons and grammars. A similar discussion of
hermeneutics would require German, and a genuine familarity with the
actual writings of major philosophers in the field of hermeneutics.

So-- a long appeal for no more forays into hermeneutics!

Edward Hobbs