Understanding theology as understanding


  • Anton A. van Niekerk Stellenbosch University, South Africa


The article develops an argument for the radical hermeneutical nature of all theological knowledge. Drawing on Habermas and Dilthey, the nature of theology as a historic-hermeneutical science whose business and focus is verstehen (understanding) rather than erklären (explanation), is explored. Drawing on insights of HW Rossouw, in turn, this is followed by the delineation of a number of elements that are formally equivalent in all processes of hermeneutical conceptualization and their specific application to theological knowledge. The implications of this are discussed. In the last part, the author concludes with a number of remarks that are implicated by the argument. The first deals with the rationality of theological knowledge, the second with the metaphorical nature of theology as hermeneutical knowledge, and the last with the legitimate place and role that theology deserves in the corpus of disciplines offered at the university.


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