Essays on Biblical Interpretation

by Paul Ricoeur

Paul Ricoeur was Professor of Philosophy and Theology in the Faculty of Arts at Paris-Nanterre, then was the successor to Paul Tillich at the University of Chicago.

This book was published in 1980 by Fortress Press. It was prepared for Religion-Online by Harry W. and Grace C. Adams.


(ENTIRE BOOK) Paul Ricoeur presents a hermeneutics of biblical interpretation from his position as a philosopher, aided by Lewis Mudge’s clarification of Ricoeur’s thought.


  • Forward

    The editor offers an account of the origin and development of this book.

  • Introduction by Lewis S. Mudge

    As a philosopher Ricoeur attempts to develop a hermeneutical phenomenology of biblical interpretation that takes seriously the metaphorically symbolic language of the Bible while asking if it is true, how we can tell, and how we can receive it.

  • Chapter 1: Preface to Bultmann

    The hermeneutic problem in Christianity is that it seeks an interpretation of a text that is itself an interpretation of the kerygma, which in turn is a proclamation about God in Christ. Ricoeur enters a dialectic with Bultmann’s hermeneutic that includes references to deLubac, Jonas, Kant, Hermann, Barth, Dilthey, Heidegger, Frege, Husserl and Luther.

  • Chapter 2: Toward a Hermeneutic of the Idea of Revelation

    The author evolves a hermeneutics of Revelation by entering into a dialectic between the concept of biblical revelation as seen in various types of biblical discourse, and the concept of philosophical reason that engages classical and contemporary philosophy in their own categories.

  • Chapter 3: The Hermeneutics of Testimony

    In seeking a philosophy of testimony that can accommodate a concept of the absolute, Ricoeur explores the semantic difficulties involved and concludes that such a philosophy can only be a hermeneutics, that is, a philosophy of interpretation.

  • Chapter 4: Freedom in the Light of Hope

    The concept of religious freedom has philosophical respectability only through a hermeneutics of hope based on the eschatology of the kerygma and the resurrection.

  • Paul Ricoeur’s Reply to Lewis S. Mudge

    Responding to Mudge’s attempt to provide a coherent overview of his writings, Ricouer offers clarifications that trace the paths of his thinking.