The Hermeneutics Compendium:

A Projected Historical Anthology in Six Volumes


Note: The Hermeneutics Compendium is a proposed six-volume collection of historically important essays in hermeneutics. It was developed on an NEH summer stipend at Yale University in 1978 and the table of contents published in 1980 at the end of an article, "Allegorical, Philological and Philosophical Hermeneutics: Three Modes in a Complex Heritage." (See Articles for publication data.) The texts of the projected articles were xeroxed, when scarce, from volumes in Sterling Library, and they presently occupy two file cabinet drawers in my office. Each volume would require about 600 pages for a total of about 3,600 pages. Several other projects have taken priority over it, and it is now unlikely that I will have to time to commit to preparing such a large project for publication.

            This prospectus is by no means definitive but the result of a two-month intensive research effort in a major library. It is suggestive rather than comprehensive. While some essays could be offered complete, other selections would take only the hermeneutically relevant portion of a larger work. The proposed volumes from the most recent period are the least complete and were not the main focus of the research, which was on premodern times. The purpose of publishing this list was to give a picture of the historical scope of hermeneutics, when it is understood as the collected body of doctrines and theories of text interpretation. This is also the purpose of publishing it here on the Internet.

                                                                                    Richard E. Palmer


Volumes I and II: Premodern Hermeneutics


Volume 1

Premodern Allegorical and Esoteric Hermeneutics:

An Historical Anthology on the Exegesis

of Dreams and Oracles, Sacred Texts, and Homer

Section I: Dreams and Oracles

          The Egyptian Dreambook (2000BCE); Greek oracles; Joseph interprets Pharaoh’s dream; Philo, On Dreams ; Artemidorus, Oneirocritica ; Macrobius, On the Dream of Scipio ; St. Synesios, On Dreams ; Talmud: Berakoth IX ; Cicero, On Dreams.

Section II: The Rise of Allegorical Interpretation in Greece

          Pépin, Mythe et Allégorie (excerpt, translated); Diels, Fragmenten ; Arnim, Stoicorum veterum Fragmenta ; Leveque, Aurena Catena Homeri ; Diogenes Laertius und Sextus Empiricus; Cornutus, Theologiae Graecae Comp. ; Heraclitus, Allégories d’Homère ; pseudo Plutarch, De vita et poesi Homeri ; Cicero, De natura deorum ; Hersman, Studies in Greek Allegorical Interpretation ; Tate article in Classical Quarterly ; Geffken, Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics article.

Section III: Allegorical and Mystical Interpretation in Philo of Alexandria, plus the Letter of Aristobulus and Letter of Aristeas

          Selections from Philo; from Wolfson, "What’s New in Philo?"; Die Technik der allegorische Auslegungsweise bei Philon ; Kelly, "Techniques of Composition in Philo"; Stokes, selections from an unpublished Yale dissertation on "Schools of Allegorical Interpretation in Hellenistic Judaism."

Section IV: Gnostic Exegesis

          Selection from Jonas, The Gnostic Religion ; The Nag Hammadi Library (selections); Corpus Hermeticum, I: Heracleon (from Origen, Commentary on John ); Pagels, The Johannine Gospel in Gnostic Exegesis ; selections from the International Conference on Gnosticism, Yale, 1978.

Section V: NeoPlatonism

          Plotinus, Enneads ; Porphyry, De Antro Nympharum ; Porphyry, The Life of Pythagoras ; Iamblichus, In Timaeum ; Ficino, Commentary on the Philebus.

Section VI: Hermeneutics of the Kabbalah

          Scholem, The Kabbalah and its Symbolism (excerpt), and his Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism ; The Zohar (selections); Cordovero, The Palm Tree of Deborah ; Suarès, The Cipher of Genesis and The Song of Songs ; Jacobs, selections from Jewish Mystical Testimonies and his Jewish Biblical Exegesis ; Wiener, "How to Read a Hasidic Text" from 9 1/2 Mystics.

Section VII: Esoteric Exegesis in the Middle Ages and Renaissance

          (See volume II below for Biblical exegesis, including mystical interpretation.)

Corbin, Creative Imagination in the Sufism of Ibn Arabi ; Burckhardt, Alchemy ; Bibliothèque des philosophes chimiques ; F. Yates, selections from two articles in JCWI ; Pico della Mirandola, Conclusiones ; Blau or Allen on Christian Kabbalah.



Volume 2

Premodern Hermeneutics in the Jewish and Christian Tradition: Major Hermeneutical Statements and Types of Exegesis

Section I: Introduction to Talmud and Midrash

          To begin with the introduction by Goldin to his The Living Talmud ; then Berakoth I ; the Goldin translation of Pirké Abot and Abot Rabbi Nathan ; Babylonian Hagigah 3a-b "The Words of the Torah Grow and Increase"; an example of Gemara, Berakoth IX, 31a-32b; example of Aggadic Midrash from Blau, Judaism ; an example from Mishnah, Nezikim, Sanhedrin 4:5; Midrashim in poetic translation by Glatzer, in Hammer on the Rock, ch. 2; Uffenheimer, "The Consecration of Isaiah in Rabbinic Exegesis" (Targum, Aggadic Midrash, and mystical exegesis); Goldin, The Shirta, chs. 3 and 6; and Spiegel, The Last Trial.

Section II: Jewish Hermeneutics Proper: The Rules of Exegesis

          The Seven Rules of Hillel ; The 13 Rules of Ishmael (from a Sifra to Leviticus ); The Baraita of 32 Rules ; Jacobs, selections from Jewish Biblical Exegesis ; Bacher, Die Aggada der Tanaiten, vol 2, ch. 8; Lieberman, Hellenism in Jewish Palestine ; Mielziner, Introduction to the Talmud; Rosenblatt, The Interpretation of the Bible in the Mishnah; Strack, egs. from his book on OT exegesis; Bonsirvin, Exégèse Rabbinique et Exégèse Paulinienne.

Section III: The Dead Sea Scrolls — Three Forms of Exegesis

          Vermes, The Dead Sea Scrolls; Dupont-Sommer, "The Habbakuk Commentary"(?); Russell, The Method and Message of Jewish Apocalyptic ; Brownlee, "Biblical Interpretation in the Dead Sea Scrolls."

Section IV: Maimonides — Philosophical Exegete in the Middle Ages

          Guide to the Perplexed ; Introduction to the Talmud ; Letter to Samuel Ibn Tibbon on translation.

— The Christian Tradition —

Section V: Modes of Scriptural Exegesis within the New Testament

          Jesus interprets himself to his disciples; the use of typological exegesis of OT; the use of parables; references to riddles and secret meaning in John ; Rabbinical methods of exegesis in the NT; allegorical interpretation in the NT (other than typological); Doeve, Jewish Hermeneutics in the Synoptic Gospels and Acts ; Longenecker, Biblical Exegesis in the Apostolic Period ; G von Rad on typological interpretation of the OT; Pagels, Gnostic Exegesis in the Johannine Gospel.

Section VI: Early Patristic Biblical Exegesis [up to Gregory]

          The Epistle of Barnabas; The Apology of Aristides ; Justin Martyr, Apology ; Irenaeus, Against Heresies ; Clement of Alexandria, Stromata ; Origin, De principiis and Contra Celsum ; Eusebius, Preparatio Evangelica ; perhaps some of Tertullian and Theodore of Mopsuestia; Eustathius, Engastrimythos contra Originem ; Cassian, Conf. of Abbot Nesteros ; St. Jerome on Job; St. Basil, "Address to Young Men on Greek Literature"; Augustine, De doctrina Christiana, III; translation of "Exegese" from the Realenencyclopadie der Antika und Christentum, 1975 edition, dealing with "NT und alte Kirche" ; "Allégorisme grec et Chrétien" from Mythe et Allégorie ; James Barr, "Typology and Allegory," in Old and New in Interpretation ; Hanson, The Spirit and the Letter (on Origen); Gruber, Die pneumatische Exegese bei den Alexandrinen.

Section VII: Exegesis in the Middle Ages

          Hugh of St. Victor, Didascalion ; Richard of St. Victor; Rabani Mauri, Allegoriae in Universam Sacram Scripturam ; Aquinas, Summa I,i,19,10; Nicholas of Lyra; deLubac, Exégèse médiévale (analytic table of contents only); Dobschütz, "Vom vierfachen Schriftsinns"; Smalley, The Study of the Bible in the Middle Ages ; Leclercq, "From Gregory the Great to St. Bernard."

Section VIII: Mystical Exegesis in the Christian Tradition

          (See discussions of Gnosticism above in vol.1, and see sections V-VII above.) In this section: Pseudo-Dionysius, The Divine Names and Mystical Theology ; Richard of St. Victor, Benjamin major ; St. Anselm, Meditations ; Bernard of Clairvaux, On the Love of God ; St. Bonaventura, Théologie Séraphique ; Ramon Lull, The Art of Contemplation ; Meister Eckhardt, Sermons ; Ruysboeckh, The Adornment of Spiritual Marriage ; Gerson, De mystica theologica speculativa ; Julian of Norwich, The Schewings of Divine Love ; Theologia Germania (1350); Jakob Boehme, selections; Loyola, Spiritual Exercises ; Underhill, "Historical Sketch of European Mysticism from the Beginning of the Christian Era to the Death of Blake" (actually only to Boehme); Besant, Esoteric Christianity ; Osment, the introduction to his Mysticism & Dissent.


Vols. 3 & 4: Philological and Theological Hermeneutics


Volume 3

The Rise of Modern Philological and Theological Hermeneutics:

A Reader of Major Texts from Erasmus to Schleiermacher,

plus Certain Forerunner Texts from Antiquity

Section I: Forerunners in Antiquity

          Dionysius Thrax, Grammatiké technê ; Aristarchus, Scholia on Homer ; Gellius, 1, 17, exegesis of a sentence of Varro; Mette, Parateresis (on Crates of Pergamon); Gudeman, Grundriss der Geschichte der klassischen Philologie (selections); Müller, "Galen als Philologe," Verhandlungen der 41. Versammlung deutscher Philologen und Schulmeistern ; Plato, Kratylos, Protagoras ; Aristotle, Poetics 1460-, 6-13, 1461a, 9-16; Longinus, On the Sublime (on rules); Horace, Ars Poetica (on rules); Plotinus, Enneads ; Porphyry, Commentary on the Timaeus ; Jewish Targum, Pesher, Karaite interpretation; Dobschütz, Die einfache Bibelexegese der Tannaiten ; Theodore of Mopsuestia (against allegorical interpretation); Tertullian; Origen (re: his Hexapla and Scholia ; Dio Chrysostom, Homily on Ps. 64; selection by St. Jerome.

Section II: Erasmus, Luther, Calvin, and Flacius

          Valla, Adnotationes ; Erasmus, Ration seu methodus compendio ; Erasmus, Apologia to In Novum Testamentum Prefationes ; Aldridge, The Hermeneutic of Erasmus, selections from Luther in Ebeling’s Evangelische Evangelienauslegung ; Holl, "Luthers Bedeutung für den Fortschritt der Auslegungskunst," Gesammelte Aufsätze ; Ebeling, Luther, ch. 6; Ebeling, comparison of Luther with early Fathers in Evangelische Evangelienauslegung ; Calvin, Institutes, chs. X and XI in Book I; Calvin Commentaries; Kraus, "Calvin’s Exegetical Principles"; Flacius, secs. 1-4 of Clavis Scripturae I ;Schwartz, Die theologische Hermeneutik des Matt. Flacius Illyricus (1933); Preger, Flacius, vol. 2, final chapter: "Die hermeneutischen und exegetischen Arbeiten von Flacius."

Section III:

Spinoza and the Rise of Rationalist and Critical-Historical Exegesis

          Spinoza, Tractatus Theologico-Politicus, VII; Wolfson, "Spinoza"; Wolle, Regulae XXX hermeneuticae (1722); Rambach, Institutiones hermeneuticae sacrae (1723), and "Erläuterung über seine IHS"; Baumbarten, Biblische Hermeneutik ; Semler, Vorbereitung zur theologischen Hermeneutik (or Abhandlungen von freier Untersuchung des Kanon, 4vols.); Ernesti, Principles of Interpretation (1762); Herder, Theologische Werke ; Morus, On Translating the Scriptures ; Beck, Rules of Higher and Lower Criticism, Keil, Elementa Hermeneutica.

Section IV:

18th Century Philological Hermeneutics: Forerunners of Schleiermacher

          Winkelmann, sels.; Herder, Kritische Wälder ; Schlegel, Lessings Geist and Charakteristik Wilhelm Meisters ; Wolf, Vorlesungen über die Enzyklopädie der Altertumswissenschaften; Ast, Grundlinien der Grammatik, Hermeneutik und Kritik ; Szondi on Ast in his Einführung in die literarische Hermeneutik ; also Dilthey on the forerunners of Schleiermacher in his Leben Schleiermachers. [See also Mueller-Vollmer’s "Introduction: Language, Mind, and Artifact: An Outline of Hermeneutic Theory since the Enlightenment" in The Hermeneutics Reader (1985)].

Section V:

Schleiermacher and the Uniting of Sacred and Secular Hermeneutics

          Aphorisms ; The Compendienartige Darstellung of 1819 ; Kimmerle, Introduction and postscript to his edition of Schleiermacher Hermeneutik (1968).


Volume 4

Philological and Theological Hermeneutics since Schleiermacher: Major Texts

Part 1: Philological Hermeneutics

Section I: The Rise of Comparative Linguistics in the Romantic Period

          Schlegel, Über die Sprache und Weisheit der Inder ; Bopp on Sanscrit; Humboldt.

Section II: Mid-Nineteenth Century Altertumswissenschaft and the "Historical School"

          Boeckh, introduction to his Enzyklopädie und Methodologie der philologischen Wissenschaften ; Blass, Hermeneutik und Kritik ; Steinthal, Die arten und Formen der Interpretation ; Droysen, Historik.

Section III:

The Flowering of Romance Philology in the Nineteenth Century

Diez, Gröber, and Meyer-Lübke, articles on these by Curtius in his Gesammelte Aufsätze.

Section IV: Three Great 20th Century Romance Philologists

E. R. Curtius on his method of working in "Marcel Proust," Franzosicher Geist im 20. Jahrhundert and ELLMA;; Spitzer, Linguistics and Literary History ; and Auerbach, on figural interpretation.     

Section V Twentieth Century German Classical Philology

          Wilamowitz, Jaeger, and the Marburg school.

Part 2: Theological Hermeneutics

Section VI: The Quest for the Historical Jesus

          Strauss, The Life of Christ, intro; Renan, Vie de Jesus ; Schweitzer, The Quest for the Historical Jesus.

Section VII: The History of Religions School and Dialectical Theology

          Kamlah, Troelsch, and Harnak; Barth, Epistle to the Romans (foreword); Brunner, Wahrheit als Begegnung ; Bultmann, intro to Jesus, Jesus Christ and Mythology, and "The Problem of Hermeneutics"; Buber, "On the Interpretation of the Bible."

Section VIII: The "New Hermeneutic" and Language-Event Theology

          Ebeling, policy statement on taking over the Zeitschrift für Theologie und Kirche , Fuch, Hermeneutik ; Heidegger, "Toward a Nonobjectifying Thinking in Theology"; Ebeling, "The Significance of the Critical Historical Method in Protestantism" (abridged); Ebeling, "Word of God and Hermeneutics."

Section IX: The New Quest for the Historical Jesus

          James M. Robinson.

Section X: The Death of God Theology and Hermeneutics

          Selections from Vahanian, Altizer, and Hamilton.

Section XI: Narrativity and Hermeneutics

          Frei and Ricoeur

Section XII: The Hermeneutics of Parable

          Perrin, Rediscovering the Teaching of Jesus ; Funk, Language, Hermeneutic and Word of God ; Via, The Parables ; Crossan, In Parables ; Teselle, Speaking in Parables.

Section XIII: Hermeneutics and God-Talk

          Hart, Unfinished Man and the Imagination ; Gilkey, Naming the Whirlwind.

Section XIV: Hermeneutics and Process Theology: The New Metaphysics?

          Schubert Ogden, The Reality of God ; L. Ford, The Lure of God ; Russel Pregeant, Christology Beyond Dogma ; David Lull, "What is the Task of Hermeneutics?"

Section XV: Hermeneutics and Revisionist Theology

          Tracy, Blessed Rage for Order ; "Five Theses" and "Interpretation Theory"

Section XVI: Theological Hermeneutics and Rhetoric

          Crossan, Raid on the Articulate ; Via; etc.

           (sections and selections above are tentative, illustrative, and may provoke

                   dialogue and suggestions. Traditional and fundamentalist hermeneutics              receive little attention, for instance.)


Vols. 5 and 6: General and Philosophical Hermeneutics

Vol. 5: "General Hermeneutics" from Chladenius to Apel

Section I: Johann Martin Chladenius (1710-1759)

          Einleitung zur richtigen Auslegung vernünftiger Reden und Schriften (1742); Müller, Johann Martin Chladenius; Szondi, on Chladenius in Einführung in die literarische Hermeneutik (1975).

Section II: Georg Friedrich Meier (1718-1777)

          Versuch einer allgemeinen Auslegungskunst (1757); Geldsetzer’s introduction to it in his 1965 reissue of Meier; Szondi on Meier, chs. 6-7, in the Einführung in die literarische Hermeneutik (1975).

Section III: Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768-1834)

          Selections from Schleiermacher, Notes 1805-1811, ed. H. Kimmerle; Szondi, chs. on Schleiermacher’s hermeneutics in ibid., pp. 155-191.

Section IV: Wilhelm Dilthey (1833-1911)

          "The Rise of Hermeneutics" (1900); selections from his Preisschrift on the early development of hermeneutics: Flacius, Wolff, Chladenius, Baumgarten; portions of his Leben Schleiermacher not in the Preisschrift early essay; on Michaelis, Semler, Ernesti, Kant, Ast, Schelling, Fichte, Schlegel, and Schleiermacher.

Section V: "General Hermeneutics" after Dilthey (except Betti & Hirsch)

          Spranger, Zur Theorie des Verstehens und geisteswissenschaftliche Psychologie ; Bollnow, Zum Begriff der hermeneutischen Logik, or Das Verstehen ; Rothacker, Logik und Systematik der Geisteswissenschaften (1927); Bubner, "Transcendentale Hermeneutik?"; Apel, Das Verstehen: Eine Problemgeschichte als Begriffgeschichte (1955), and "Scientistics, Hermeneutics, Critique of Ideology: An Outline of a Theory of Science from an Epistemological-Anthropological Point of View"(1980), translated in Mueller-Vollmer’s The Hermeneutics Reader (1985).

Section VI: Emilio Betti (died ca. 1973)

          Allgemeine Auslegungslehre als Methodik der Geisteswissenschaften (1967), a German translation of his Italian masterwork; Die Hermeneutik als allgemeine Methodik der Geisteswissenschaften (1962).

Section VII: E. D. Hirsch, Jr.

          Validity in Interpretation (1967) and appendix on Gadamer; The Aims of Interpretation (1976).

Vol. 6

Philosophical Hermeneutics:

A Collection of Texts from Plato to Derrida

Section I: Twelve Philosophical Contributors from Plato to Wittgenstein

1. Plato: On dialectic, words and language, knowing and perceiving, the weakness of writing, on love and the ascending levels of understanding.

2. Aristotle: On appropriate exactness in interpretation, practical wisdom, enunciation.

3. Vico: from his De nostri temporis studiorum ratione.

4. Schleiermacher: On understanding as reconstruction: on understanding an author better than he understood himself; on divinatory understanding.

5. Hegel: On experience, on dialectic, on the speculative sentence, and on desire and self-consciousness.

6. Kierkegaard: On indirect communication.

7. Nietzsche: "On Truth and Lying in the Extramoral Sense"; on scholars and objectivity; on several themes in The Will to Power. (continued in Foucault, Power/Knowledge.

8. Dilthey: On Geschichtlichkeit; on the historical character of self-understanding; on life speaking to life in all the deeper forms of communicating of understanding; on Erlebnis-Ausdrück-Verstehen ; on Verstehen and Erklären

9. Husserl: On the intentionality of consciousness; overcoming the subject-object dichtomy through phenomenology; on the life-world.

10. Wittgenstein: On the nature of language; on language game and family resemblances; on understanding as "being able to go on."

11. Habermas: Selection from the appendix of Knowledge and Human Interests ; parts of The Theory of Communicative Action and Hermeneutics in Ethics and Social Theory.

12. Apel: Section from Towards a Transformation in Philosophy.

Section II: Four Major Figures: Heidegger, Gadamer, Ricoeur, Derrida

1. Heidegger: Selections from Being and Time ; selections from writings of the later Heidegger, including the discussion of hermeneutics in "Dialogue with a Japanese."

2. Gadamer: Selections from Truth and Method ; "Hermeneutics and Historicism"; "Replik" in Hermeneutik und Ideologiekritik ; "Hermeneutics and Deconstruction" and others.

3. Ricoeur: "The Hermeneutics of Symbols and Philosophical Reflection"; "Existence and Hermeneutics"; "Explanation and Understanding"; portions of the introduction to Freud and Philosophy, portions of his Interpretation Theory lectures indicating his rejection of Schleiermacher’s hermeneutics; selections from The Rule of Metaphor and Time and Narrative.

4. Derrida: Selections from Voice and Phenomenon; On Grammatology; Glas, "White Mythology," and "Signatures: Deux Questions."

Return to R. Palmer Home              




On Hermeneutics and Postmodernity

On the Scope of Hermeneutics

Book Reviews 



Dr. Richard Palmer
Box 1085 MacMurray College
447 East College Avenue
Jacksonville, IL 62650



Last update: August 2, 2000