Disruptive presence: the ontology, theology and ethics of reading the Bible as scripture in Karl Barth’s theological exegesis
Saragih, Denni Boy
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The dissertation offers a new reading of Karl Barth’s hermeneutics in relation to the task of the church in reading the Bible as Scripture. The study argues that the distinctiveness of Barth’s hermeneutics lies in its complex coordination of several doctrinal loci in construing biblical hermeneutics. In this reading, the church’s interpretation of the Bible is theologically located in the reality defined by the Trinitarian decision to be God in Jesus Christ. The relationship between the Word of God and the word of man is decided by God’s election of God’s being in Jesus Christ. As a contribution to Barth studies, the work offers a corrective reading of Barth’s earlier account of biblical hermeneutics in the doctrine of revelation by drawing the insights of Barth’s later theological ontology in the doctrines of election and Christology. The church’s reading of scripture is reformulated in the ontology of being in becoming in which the freedom of God in revelation is coordinated with the history of God in Jesus Christ. As such, it maintains the continuity and the discontinuity between the biblical natural history and the divine address to the church. The practical implication of this approach is not a method of interpretation but an ethics of biblical interpretation as a human response to God’s communicative presence. As an activity of listening to the Word of God, the church’s reading of the Bible is marked by moral freedom in obedience and responsibility to the Word of God. But the divine presence is not only communicative but also commanding, and it remains “a disruptive presence” that challenges the church to be faithful to her calling as a creature of the Word of God.