[The New Hermeneutic by James Robinson and Sermons]


James Robinson

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Isaac R. Clark Memorial Collection

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James Robinson gives lecture on “The New Hermeneutic.” In this lecture, Mr. Robinson gives the history of hermeneutics beginning with ancient Greek culture. He also discusses the how the study of the classics, constitutional law, and bible created the hermeneutics problem. Mr. Robinson defines this problem as one of meaning (what a text meant and what it presently means). He further discusses the role of the historical critical method, Karl Barth and Rudolf Bultmann in the development of the “New Hermeneutic.” Also included are sermons by unidentified men.

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00:00:04 Audio begins with James Robinson thanking for the invitation.

00:00:57 Introduces subject “The New Hermeneutic”.

00:01:29 Talks about how the word hermeneutic was invented about 300 years ago and about how it meant the theoretical side of exegesis. What exegesis was the practice of rules of interpretation.

00:02:32 Talks about how the commonality among the various places where hermeneutics cropped up was a cluster of factors. Talks about the problem that produced hermeneutic were the 1.) Study of the classics, 2.) Study of constitutional law and 3.) The study of the bible.

00:06:58 Talks about being caught between two dilemmas 1.) The normative role of the classical literatures ruin the present by shackling it and not really freeing it or helping it. 2.) Really defrocking the bible and getting rid of the normative role of the bible.

00:09:47 Talks about the hermeneutical problem is only a problem because people are still practicing Christianity and still preaching Christianity. If it was a dead religion then it would be not hermeneutical problem.

00:15:20 Talks about how hermeneutic as it has been traditionally taught in Protestantism looks from mid twentieth century like a pretty old fashioned justification of the old disproven way of doing things.

00:16:01 Talks about how the historical critical method took the traditional hermeneutics place and the rise of biblical criticism at the end of the 19th century.

00:17:04 Talks about how the new introductory courses in bible were called historical critical methods. It was the hermeneutic of liberalism just as much as typology and allegory were the hermeneutics of conservatism.

00:18:45 Talks about criticism of intelligent seminary student about how seminary education is disseminated in little pockets of specialization.

00:19:24 Talks about the success of the historical critical method and how it succeeded in putting the bible back in the museum where it belonged. Talks about at that moment one had the Barthian revolt. This revolt came from the pulpit of a preacher who had to get up and say not what it meant but what it means. Forced into the hermeneutical problem and responded with the book of Romans.

00:21:05 Talks about how Barth’s Romans threw down the gauntlet before the scholarly theological world.

00:22:04 Talks about how at the point of Barth’s protestant theology reversed ground it was not willing to defrock the Bible.

00:22:16 Talks about how young professors in Biblical departments in the 1920’s. Some took off their clerical garment and went to teach history at Yale and other institutions. As soon as this question was posed the new hermeneutic was born. A hermeneutic that is different than the old hermeneutic in that it has been through historical criticism.

00:26:26 Talks about the new hermeneutic is forced upon those who think God is speaking to modern people through t a book written for Hellenistic people.

00:31:11 Talks about Rudolph Bultmann and the tension he was in when Barth’s book of Romans broke up his course on Romans. The outcome of the tension between what it meant and what it means was Bultmann’s demythologizing.

00:34:01 Talks about how the new hermeneutic is really (in the present moment) saying demythologizing was a trial run - a first act and effort at a much broader problem of how to translate meaning out of the past into the present.

00:43:53 Talks about hermeneutical debate about constitutional law.

00:44:57 Audio cuts off.

00:45:13 Talks about narrow theological business and the whole problem of modern American trying to translate into our problems the best in our classical, canonical and constitutional heritage.

00:45:48 Ends presentation.

00:45:58 Voice announces the end of lecture number one and prepares for tape number two.

00:46:24 Unidentified male introduces his sermon subject “Christian Love”.

00:56:27 Unidentified man introduces Ephesians 4.

00:57:14 Introduces subject “In Search of Christian Maturity: Copy God”.

01:05:51 Talks about how living creatively is one way of reaching Christian maturity.

01:13:09 Unidentified man introduces title of his sermon from Matthew 10 (sound distorted).

01:21:52 Audio cuts off.


The Atlanta University Center Robert W. Woodruff Library acknowledges the generous support of the National Endowment for Humanities - Humanities Collections and Reference Resources Implementation Project Grant in supporting the processing and digitization of a number of its major archival collections as part of the project: Spreading the Word: Expanding Access to African American Religious Archival Collections at the Atlanta University Center Robert W. Woodruff Library.

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