Feb 28, 2011

The Principal Rule

Above all, read the N.T. without a commentary. Would it ever occur to a lover to read a letter from his beloved with a commentary!

In connection with everything which qualitatively makes a claim of having purely personal significance to me, a commentary is a most hazardous meddler.

If the letter from the beloved were in a language I do not understand — why, then I learn the language — but I do not read the letter with the aid of commentaries by others. I read it, and since the thought of my beloved is vividly present and my purpose in everything is to will according to her will and wishes, I understand the letter all right. It is the same way with the Scriptures. With the help of God I understand it all right. Every commentary detracts. He who can sit with ten open commentaries and read the Holy Scriptures — well, he is probably writing the eleventh, but he deals with the Scriptures contra naturam.

That is, while reading the letter you are occupied with yourself and your relation to the beloved, but you are not objectively occupied with the beloved's letter, that this passage, for example, may be interpreted in ten ways — oh, no, the important thing for you is to begin to act as soon as possible. Besides, should it not mean something to be the lover, should it not give you what the commentators do not have? Everyone is the best interpreter of his own words, it is said. And next comes the lover, and in relation to God the true believer. Pereat the commentators!

— Kierkegaard

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