Barth on interpreting

I often find myself contemplating how to reconcile the ‘disinterested’ ideal of (classical) historical criticism with the doctrine of inspiration. Thankfully, I came across this in Barth’s ‘Preface to the First Edition’ of his Romans commentary:

The historical-critical method of Biblical investigation has its rightful place: it is concerned with the preparation of the intelligence–and this can never be superfluous. But, were I driven to choose between it and the venerable doctrine of Inspiration, I should without hesitation adopt the latter, which has a broader, deeper, more important justification. The doctrine of Inspiration is concerned with the labour of apprehending, without which no technical equipment, however complete, is of any use whatever.

Fortunately, I am not compelled to choose between the two. Nevertheless, my whole energy of interpreting has been expended in an endeavour to see through and beyond history in to the spirit of the bible, which is the Eternal Spirit.

I can say ‘Amen’ to that at first glance, but it will take a lifetime of prayerful study to master it.

Lord Jesus, help me to be faithful with tools both intellectual and spiritual.

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