In this wide-ranging study Rosalind Selby explores the hermeneutical implications of a Barthian epistemology in which 'giveness' (of knowledge, talk of God and Scripture, and the Church) is paramount. From this she seeks to develop a 'hermeneutics of service' that challenges both liberal and fundamentalist approaches to theological language and biblical interpretation.
Selby tackles the issues of knowledge, and especially knowledge of God , the language used to communicate that knowledge and that language as Scriptural textuality. Barth wrote of 'the comical doctrine that the true exegete has no presuppositions'. In fact, he said, 'no one reads the bible directly--we all read it through spectacles'. In the train of his insight, Selby examines the role of community as a prerequisite for knowledge and truth claims before examining the different ways that various 'communities' interpret Scripture (focusing on St. Mark's Gospel). The presuppositions of the different starting places are revealed and the appropriateness of various methodologies discussed. The Quest for the Historical Jesus and its struggles to handle the resurrection are used as a 'test case' to show the impact of different hermeneutical strategies.
The insights in this thought-provoking study have implications for issues as wide ranging as the genre 'Gospel', the authority of Scripture, the Church as a 'reading community', the plurality of interpretations and the possibility of controlling them, the relationship between general and special theological hermeneutics, as well as epistemological foundationalism and its alternatives.