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The Dogma of History

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A Hermeneutical Inquiry into the Historiography of Doctrinal Criticism

This essay considers the role of historiography in doctrinal criticism from a hermeneutical perspective and in light of postcolonial and postmodern criticisms. First, historiography is defined using a Gadamerian typology, providing the basis for an analysis of Kenneth Scott Latourette’s well-respected essay on Christian historiography. This reading of Latourette illuminates the dogmatic nature of the prejudices informing Christian historical scholarship. Finally, these insights are applied to doctrinal criticism, arguing that the relationship between doctrine and historiography is dialectical, rather than one element having dominance over the other. It concludes by suggesting a chastened, “two-tiered” approach to doctrinal criticism capable of responding to the charges mentioned and to current trends in global Christianity.

Affiliations: 1: Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, California


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