n Stellenbosch Theological Journal - Karl Barth’s interpretation of Scripture from the perspective of a possible “second naivety”

Volume 5 Number 3
  • ISSN : 0028-2006
  • E-ISSN: 2226-2385



Although the theological exegesis of Karl Barth cannot be depicted as “naïve”, his cumulative style of interpretation presupposes that the Bible entails a “new world” that has a threefold character and that requires a “second naivety” as suggested by Paul Ricoeur (i.e. an interpretive position beyond criticism) as its hermeneutical point of departure: (i) an inner core of divine revelation in Jesus Christ; (ii) the prophetic and apostolic witness in the Bible that makes the divine core accessible for interpretation; (iii) the proclamation or preaching of the biblical witness that is rooted in this “second naivety”. Critical scholarship in general and historical-criticism in particular are not rejected outright, but theological exegesis must move beyond criticism. In the early part of his career Barth, when appointed as a lecturer in New Testament, Barth took serious note of critical biblical scholarship. However, the jury is still out whether critical biblical exegesis remained an important point of reference in Barth’s later publications and whether his reluctance to engage in hermeneutical and methodological reflection caused a lack of the self-criticism presupposed by a “second naivety”.

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