News From BNTS

Booking for this year’s conference closes on August 18th. Please make sure you book your place before then. http://maynoothcollege.ie/pontifical-university/2017/04/10/british-new-testament-conference-31st-aug-2nd-september-2017/

The conference begins on Thursday 31st August, with Registration at St Patrick’s College from 3pm. The first event is a wine reception at 5.30pm.  There is an opportunity to take part in an additional trip to Dublin on Thursday morning, and accommodation can be booked for the Wednesday evening.

There is a handy Travelling to Maynooth Section on the University website here: https://www.maynoothuniversity.ie/location along with maps of the campus.
St Patrick’s College is on the South Campus. Most of the accommodation is on the North Campus.  International Colleagues should check visa arrangements and ensure any necessary paperwork is completed in order to leave and re-enter the UK.

We very much look forward to welcoming everyone to Maynooth.
Best wishes,
Paul

Dr Paul Middleton
Secretary, The British New Testament Society

The Reticence of the Editors of Luther’s Works in English to Publish his Book on the Jews

In the preface, the editors of the American Edition of Luther’s works write

The fact that Luther, during the last years of his life, wrote treatises harshly condemnatory of the Jews and Judaism is rather widely known. The treatises themselves, however, have not previously been available in English. The publication here of the longest and most infamous of them, On the Jews and Their Lies, will no doubt prove dismaying to many readers, not only because it shows Luther at his least attractive, but also because of the potential misuse of this material. The risk to Luther’s reputation is gladly borne, since the exposure of a broader range of his writings to modern critical judgment is an inherent purpose of this American edition. However, the thought of possible misuse of this material, to the detriment either of the Jewish people or of Jewish-Christian relations today, has occasioned great misgivings. Both editor and publisher, therefore, wish to make clear at the very outset that publication of this treatise is being undertaken only to make available the necessary documents for scholarly study of this aspect of Luther’s thought, which has played so fateful a role in the development of anti-Semitism in Western culture. Such publication is in no way intended as an endorsement of the distorted views of Jewish faith and practice or the defamation of the Jewish people which this treatise contains.*

Luther’s book doesn’t just make us squirm today, it was also viewed negatively in Luther’s own day, among his own supporters!

Already upon its first appearance in the year 1543, Luther’s treatise caused widespread dismay, not only among contemporary Jews but also in Protestant circles. Melanchthon and Osiander are known to have been unhappy with its severity. Henry Bullinger, in correspondence with Martin Bucer, remarked that Luther’s views reminded him of those of the Inquisitors. And a subsequent document prepared by the churches of Zurich declared (speaking specifically of the treatise Vom Schem Hamphoras, published later in 1543), that “if it had been written by a swineherd, rather than by a celebrated shepherd of souls, it might have some—but very little—justification.”*   [The Zurich document is cited in WA 53, 574. For the views of Melanchthon, Osiander, Bullinger, and other Reformers, see Lewin, Luthers Stellung zu den Juden (cited above, p. 96, n. 35), pp. 97 ff.]

wa53-574

(WA 53,574)

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*Luther’s works, vol. 47: The Christian in Society IV.

Signs of the Times- the 1531 Edition

S. Jackson relates

[In the Summer of 1531] Zurich was again visited by the plague, though not in severe form. Like others of his time, Zwingli believed in signs and portents …. So he was greatly disturbed at an extraordinary communication from Schenkenberg, near Brugg, in Aargau, some seventeen miles north by west of Zurich, written by the magistrate of the village and dated July 29, 1531, to the effect that on July 24th blood had been seen issuing in a stream from the earth!

Other equally circumstantial reports of uncommon physical phenomena were:

-that at Zug, some fifteen miles south of Zurich, on Lake Zug, a shield had been seen in the air;
-on the river Reuss, which runs into Lake Zug, shots were heard at night;
-on the Bruenig Pass, some twenty-five miles south of Luzern, flags flew in the heavens,
– and on the Lake of Luzern phantom ships sailed filled with ghosts in warriors’ garb.

At Goostow, in the county of Gröningen, belonging to Zurich, a poor peasant woman, Beatrice of Marckelssheim, bore a child that had two heads with faces, three legs, and three arms, but only one body. Two of the arms hung from the sides as usual, but the third came out of the back between the shoulders, and had on the end two hands clasped. Two of the legs were also normal, but the third hung from behind for all the world like a tail! One of the heads died in the birth, the other lived a short time after it.

But still more alarming was the comet, of which Zwingli writes, on August 16th: “Some have seen a comet here in Zurich for three nights. I for one only, i. e., August 15th; what we shall see to-day, the 16th, I don’t know.” Bullinger thus relates the incident:

“Upon [St.] Lawrence [day, Thursday, August 10, 1531], appeared at sunset a right fearful comet whose long and broad tail stretched to mid heaven. The colour was pale yellow. And when Zwingli was asked what it meant by George Müller, abbot at Wittengen, as standing in the churchyard of the Great Minster, near the Wettinger House, they contemplated it together, he replied: ‘Dear George, it will cost me and many an honest man his life, and truth and Church will yet suffer; still Christ will not desert us.’ ”

In our day we just have an orange politician…  Evil portent indeed.