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International online journal launched

By Janet Harron | March 25, 2009

Memorial University’s website is now host to Analecta Hermeneutica (, the official journal of the International Institute for Hermeneutics.

Many years in the planning, this journal will provide a forum for interdisciplinary, inter-religious and international hermeneutic research.

The philosophy department’s Dr. Sean McGrath has been involved with the Institute since 2001 when it was founded by Dr. Andrzej Wiercinski at the University of Toronto. Dr. McGrath is now editor of the journal with Dr. Wiercinski, currently at the University of Freiburg, acting as editor-in-chief.

Dr. McGrath explains that hermeneutics refers to questions of how to interpret texts. It developed out of medieval theology and legal studies into a philosophical theory of human understanding in the 20th century. Highly interdisciplinary in its scope, hermeneutics is also by definition inclusive. In his introduction to the first edition of the journal, Dr. McGrath writes, “The point is not that ‘there is no truth’; it is rather than there are so many possible truths.  AH is a space within which the varieties of human truths can show themselves.”

The online format is the best fit for this journal, explains Dr. McGrath. “Online publishing used to be sneered at but that is no longer the case. The likelihood of getting read is far greater on the web than it is on paper. More importantly, we believe in the principle of open access publishing. Knowledge is not a commodity; it should therefore be accessible to anyone with the capacity to interpret it. We are taking advantage of the online medium by inviting readers to contribute papers responding to each issue, which, if accepted, will be included as addenda, so therefore each issue can continue to grow.”

Dr. McGrath is quick to pay tribute to Memorial for helping to bring the project to fruition and says that resources here have been instrumental in the journal’s successful launch. “The administration and faculty have been enthusiastic and supportive from the beginning. Allan Farrell in the Dean of Arts Office is our technician and played a key role in the design. At a crucial stage in the project, the Office of Research actively supported the project. Last but not least MUN graduate students have been essential, assisting me with editing and technicalities. Without MUN this would not have happened.”

There are benefits for Memorial as well through the associations with universities around the world, whose faculty are members of the International Institute for Hermeneutics.

The journal publishes research in the form of articles, reviews, and other scholarly contributions in all related fields, with a particular focus on philosophy, theology, and comparative literature. The current issue is drawn from papers presented at scholarly events that have been hosted by the institute over the years as well stand-alone submissions. Volume 2, to be posted in early 2010, is already under way. The topic is philosophical theology. The title of Volume Two will be Questioning the Absolute: Re-thinking the Ground of Existence. Dr. McGrath invites submissions on this theme from faculty working in Religion, Theology, Literature, or Philosophy. With an outstanding editorial board in place, Dr. McGrath has no doubts that the Analecta Hermeneutica will quickly emerge at the forefront of research in the humanities.

Founded in 2001 with a mandate from Hans-Georg Gadamer, the International Institute for Hermeneutics ( facilitates the fusion of horizons of human meaning through historical, philosophical, and theological research. It is founded upon the conviction that interdisciplinary, inter-religious, and inter-linguistic discussion must be at the forefront of the pluralistic university of the twenty-first century.