The Purpose of Hermeneutics

  • Werner G. Jeanrond
Part of the Library of Philosophy and Religion book series (LPR)


By ‘hermeneutics’ we mean the theory of interpretation. The word contains a reference to Hermes, the messenger of the Gods in Greek mythology. Hermes’ task was to explain to humans the decisions and plans of their Gods. Thus, he bridged the gap between the divine and the human realm. Similarly, hermeneutics is concerned with examining the relationship bewteen two realms, the realms of a text or a work of art on the one hand, and the people who wish to understand it on the other. Yet why is such an examination necessary? Do we not always understand the texts or works of art in front of us? Where is the problem which hermeneutics wishes to solve?


Legal Text Literary Text Christian Theology Christian Church Biblical Text 
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  1. 3.
    Hans-Georg Gadamer, Truth and Method trans. from the 2nd German edn by William Glen-Doepel and ed. by John Cumming and Garrett Barden. 2nd edn (London: Sheed and Ward, 1979), 333ff.Google Scholar
  2. David Tracy, The Analogical Imagination: Christian Theology and the Culture of Pluralism (New York: Crossroad, 1981), 102.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    Cf. here David Jasper, The Study of Literature and Religion: An Introduction. Studies in Literature and Religion (London: Macmillan, 1989), esp. 83–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 7.
    I borrow this terminology from David Tracy, Blessed Rage for Order: The New Pluralism in Theology (New York: Seabury, 1975), 45f.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Werner G. Jeanrond 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Werner G. Jeanrond
    • 1
  1. 1.Trinity CollegeUniversity of DublinIreland

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