Theory and data: a hermeneutic approach
As a teenager I attended an after-hours class to learn New Testament Greek. My teacher wanted to know why I was interested in Greek. I replied: 'I want to know about truth'. I thought I could find the truth through an understanding of the original language of the New Testament. The question of truth has haunted me since that time. What is this thing called 'truth'? Is there a truth to be discovered that applies for all time and everywhere? Or is there no such thing as absolute truth, and is everything relative? Driven by the fear of extreme relativism and the need for certainty I searched for various forms of transcendent truths. Truths that I could live by with absolute confidence. I tried fundamentalist religion, alternative subcultures, dedicating myself to a career and the certainty of logical science. However, the more I read, the more people I met,
the more I experienced, the more I became convinced that this is a false dichotomy. It is not a choice between absolute truth and no truth at all. Rather, truth is always historical, cultural and socially created. Historically and culturally located truths still provide a guide for living, but the person who recognises their historical and cultural location is more willing to listen to, and respect the voice and experience-the 'truth'-of other people. Between the extremes of absolute truth and no truth is the lived reality of halfworked-through truths that shape our daily lives.