SKC Workshop Spring 2024

Armande Delage

(University of Sorbonne, Paris, France)

"Kierkegaard’s Hermeneutics: Is There an Art of Interpretation?"

In his Discourses, Kierkegaard finds material for his reflections in biblical texts themselves. In this respect, the aim of the Discourses seems twofold. First, Kierkegaard clarifies the meaning and the content of biblical texts to the reader, by guiding her through his reading and making her aware of what a religious and Christian life should be. On the other hand, Kierkegaard also emphasizes the relationship that the reader must have with biblical texts themselves. In this regard, the author provides the reader with abundant instructions and precautions, to the point where one might wonder whether the accuracy of their relationship to the text (that is, the how) may not prevail on, or even determine, the text's actual content and meaning (the what). It seems clear, then, that Kierkegaard develops a specific biblical hermeneutics. However, this hermeneutics is never spelled out as an actual method. On the contrary, the Kierkegaardian reading is very much negative, as it refuses to be directed by any external, positive or historical knowledge, which would only divert the reader from a properly direct reading of the text. Instead of interpreting and explaining the text, Kierkegaard seems to emphasize a straightforward understanding of it, which takes place beyond any talkative and excessive erudition. In light of the above analysis, we must ask what is the meaning of this understanding. Indeed, Kierkegaard asserts with increasing emphasis that the correct understanding of the text is the one that leads to effective and concrete action, thus taking the reader beyond the text itself. How should we thus specify Kierkegaardian hermeneutics - situated in this way between word and action?