Posted by: Billy Marsh | November 11, 2008

The Hermeneutical Key

After reading about half of Kevin J. Vanhoozer’s The Drama of Doctrine last week for our Ph. D. reading seminar, I have a lot of theological ideas, angles, and concepts flying around in my head. There are many quotes that I’d love to share with you from Vanhoozer’s attempt at recovering the practice of Christian doctrine, but at this time, there is one that stands out above the rest which speaks to a number of major facets of biblical/theological studies such as history, canon, interpretation, revelation, and Christology. My favorite part, of course, is Vanhoozer’s closing words on Jesus as “the hermeneutical key” for all of life. For some of my brothers and sisters who are more familiar with the discussions going on “behind” Vanhoozer’s words, or rather, implicitly interwoven throughout this paragraph, some fruitful dialogue is welcome! What I’m struggling to determine is how he is using “history” in relation to the “canon” and where “the history of Jesus Christ” fits into those two categories?

History is that larger story, that whole in light of which we can make sense of the parts. The canon is not a dehistoricized sourcebook of faith but a theo-drama: a record of the words and acts of God. The biblical theo-drama assumes that history is the proper stage for divine action and that history is directed toward its goal by divine purpose. The unity or wholeness of human history is not that of a lawlike system, much less of Hegelian logic, but of a gracious God who completes the good work he began in creation. While universal history may be the locus of divine action, however, the focus of divine action is the history of Jesus Christ. The history of Jesus is thus the hermeneutical key to the biblical canon as a whole. Jesus Christ is the hermeneutical key not only to the history of Israel but to the history of the whole world, and hence to the meaning of life, for he is the Logos through whom all things were created (223).

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