The Function of Scripture in the Thought of Soren Kierkegaard

Dissertation, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (1988)

Louis Joseph Rosas
Middle Tennessee State University
The purpose of the dissertation was to examine the "function" of scripture in the thought of Soren Kierkegaard. Particular attention was given to Kierkegaard's doctrine of stages, the various pseudonyms, and the relationship between the various hermeneutical uses of scripture evident in a cross section of the Kierkegaard corpus. Also, the stating of Kierkegaard's expressed views in relation to appropriation of the truths of scripture and an examination of the actual uses of scripture in the interplay with his various pseudonyms underscored the relationship between these models and his philosophical presuppositions, theoretical understanding of revelation, exegetical training, and his practical application of the biblical message. ;Chapter 1 served to introduce the study. The brief biographical sketch highlighted the four crisis of Kierkegaard's life. Of special importance was Kierkegaard's own self-understanding of his role as a religious poet. Other introductory matters related to an overview of the dissertation were also examined. ;Chapter 2 focused on the philosophical and theological contexts that Kierkegaard both appropriated and reacted against. This provided the parameters for understanding his views on authority, revelation, the Scripture, and its appropriation. Kantian epistemology and Lessing's famous "ditch" rejecting the accidental events of history as an adequate basis for objective certainty shaped Kierkegaard's own philosophical presuppositions. His reaction against Hegelian speculative philosophy is well documented. Kierkegaard worked from a post-Kantian critical philosophical posture. ;Chapters 3 and 4 analyzed the function of scripture in selected Kierkegaardian works. These works were examined in chronological order. Chapter 3 showed the heremeneutic of the aesthete to be that of a literary use of the Bible. The heremeneutic of the ethical utilized the Scriptures as justification of universal moral imperatives. The religious heremeneutic involved paradox, edification, and prophetic exhortation. Chapter 4 dealt with the religious heremeneutic in Kierkegaard's "second literature" of explicitly religious writings. ;Chapter 5 included both a summary and critique of Kierkegaard's use of scripture. The strengths and weaknesses of his approaches to scripture were examined. Kierkegaard's approach to the Bible is held up as a positive paradigm for twentieth century evangelical Christianity. An appendix listing the Scripture references in the works examined is provided
Keywords existentialism  hermeneutics  Kierkegaard  Christendom  Bible  biblical interpretation
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