Original Research - Special Collection: Otto-Le Roux Dedication

We are shaped by past interpretations

Jurie H. le Roux
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 40, No 1 | a1945 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v40i1.1945 | © 2019 Jurie H. le Roux | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 30 October 2018 | Published: 12 December 2019

About the author(s)

Jurie H. le Roux, Department of Old Testament Studies, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


Eckart Otto’s four-volume commentary on Deuteronomy will remain for many decades a benchmark for the study of Deuteronomy and the Pentateuch. One important aspect of Otto’s work is his focus on research history, and in this article the importance of this kind of study is highlighted by means of Hans-Georg Gadamer’s view of ‘Wirkungsgeschichte’ or the ‘historically effected conscious’ and the notion that understanding is a way of participating in an intellectual tradition. In the first volume of his commentary, Otto took us through an interpretation history of more than three centuries. It was a staggering journey confronting us with many scholars, showing us that understanding also implies participation ‘in an event of tradition’. In the light of this history, Otto indicated how the problem of diachrony and synchrony could be approached.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This article highlights the importance of the history of research for the understanding of the Old Testament as well as the New Testament. It also emphasised the important contribution of philosophers such as Hans-Georg Gadamer and his emphasis on ‘Wirkungsgeschichte’.


History; History of research; Deuteronomy; Pentateuch; ‘Wirkungsgeschichte’; Synchrony; Diachrony


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