Philosophy Faculty Publications and Presentations

What is a Biblical “interpretation,” anyway? An imaginary dialogue between Martin Luther and Paul Ricoeur

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



This presentation explores some fundamental reflections on what it means to engage in an “interpretation” of a biblical text, specifically from a Lutheran perspective. To carry out these reflections, Pearson will turn to two “interpretive” texts on Ex. 3, focusing on passages relating to the burning bush and the naming of God. The two texts are Luther’s “How Christians Should Regard Moses,” with its emphasis on the Christological meaning of the text; and Paul Ricoeur’s long essay on “The Naming of God” in Thinking Biblically: Exegetical and Hermeneutical Studies. Pearson will seek to discern the connections and mutual interpretive reinforcement between Luther’s Christological approach and Ricoeur’s enriched metaphorical methodology. In the end, a common theme emerges in Luther and Ricoeur, a theme that suggests a sustainable “interpretation” of a biblical text emerges over time from a faithful community of common discourse. That is, a community that is committed both to the text and to the traditions of discourse devoted to that text; that produces finished works of meaning and unfinished works of proclamation.

Publication Title

Concordia Seminary's 32nd Annual Theological Symposium