Zwinglius Redivivus

Erfahrung im Alten Testament: Untersuchung zur Exegese des Alten Testaments bei Franz Delitzsch

Posted in Book Review, Books, Church History by Jim on 13 Jun 2018

Der Tatsache, dass die exegetische Arbeit des Leipziger und Erlanger Theologen Franz Delitzsch schon zu seiner eigenen Zeit als altmodisch galt, entspricht nicht die Rezeption und Aufmerksamkeit, die seine Schriften im deutschsprachigen wie im englischsprachigen Raum genossen haben und teilweise noch genießen. Diese Dissertation untersucht mit Blick auf dieses Phänomen den von Delitzsch angewandten Ansatz und dessen Wurzeln in der lutherischen Erlanger Schule, zu der er – so zeigt es sich – eindeutig gehörte. Gegenwärtige Debatten über die Stellung des Alten Testaments in christlicher Theologie bestätigen die dauerhafte Relevanz solcher Untersuchungen, gerade wenn man Delitzschs bemerkenswerte Beziehung zum Judentum bedenkt.

EVA has also sent a copy of this for review.

The volume at hand is a revised doctoral dissertation, submitted to the Humboldt University in Berlin in 2016.

Chapter One serves to introduce the reader to the biographical waystations of Prof. Delitzsch, from his youth through his time at Leipzig, Rostock, Erlangen, and back to Leipzig.  It also includes an excursus on the exegetical environment and Delitzsch’s place in the history of research at the time.

Chapter two moves into the chief contributions of Delitszch overturning the allegorical approach by means of  the ‘Salvation Historical’ approach.  This chapter is incredibly interesting and opens an important window on a very significant period of the development of academic theology.

Chapter three presents a more problematic aspect of D’s work- his belief that Christianity (and Christ) are resident within the Old Testament.  To be sure, his approach was remarkable for its time- but we have learned better.

The fourth chapter is what I would term a highwater tirade against Marcionitism as found in the modern Church and its refusal to appreciate fully the Old Testament.  This wide ranging section includes such aspects as the work of the prophets and their inspiration as well as a discussion of the Psalms and wisdom literature.

Chapter five is also quite illuminating from a historical perspective because it discusses various of the academic battles fought between the school of Wellhausen and the conservatives (including Delitzsch).

Finally, in the sixth chapter, Corzine provides a summary of the argument of the entire volume.  This is followed by a bibliography of Delitzsch, a subject index, an index of persons, and an index of places.

This is a lovely volume and very informative.  Did you know, for instance, that Delitzsch was born on 23 February in 1813 and that he began the study of Hebrew at the Nikolaigymnasium in 1827?  He was, then, studying Hebrew at the age of 14.  He was also tremendously interested in the mission to the Jews.  So interested, in fact, that he translated the New Testament into Hebrew and that translation still stands as the most widely used and cited.  Here is a sampling:

עַל־כֵּן גַּם־הָאֱלֹהִים נְתָנָם לַטּוּמְאָה בְּתַאֲוֹת לִבָּם לְנַבֵּל גְּוִיּוֹתֵיהֶם אִישׁ בְּרֵעֵהוּ׃
אֲשֶׁר הֵמִירוּ אֲמִתּוֹ שֶׁל הָאֱלֹהִים בַּשָּׁקֶר וַיְכַבְּדוּ אֶת־הַבְּרִיָּה לְעָבְדָהּ תַּחַת בֹּרְאָהּ הַמְבֹרָךְ לְעוֹלָמִים אָמֵן׃
בַּעֲבוּר זֹאת נְתָנָם הָאֱלֹהִים לְתַאֲוֹת בּוּשָׁה כִּי־נְשֵׁיהֶם הֶחֱלִיפוּ אֶת־דֶּרֶךְ אֶרֶץ בְּשֶׁלֹּא כְּדֶרֶךְ אָרֶץ׃
וְכֵן גַּם־הַזְּכָרִים עָזְבוּ דֶרֶךְ גֶּבֶר בְּאִשָּׁה וַיֵּחַמּוּ זֶה בָזֶה בְּתַאֲוָתָם וַיַּעֲשׂוּ תוֹעֵבָה זָכָר עִם־זָכָר וַיִּקְחוּ שְׂכַר מְשׁוּבָתָם הָרָאוּי לָהֶם בְּעֶצֶם גּוּפָם׃
וְכַאֲשֶׁר מָאֲסוּ דַּעַת אֱלֹהִים נְתָנָם הָאֱלֹהִים בִּידֵי דֵעָה נִמְאָסָה לַעֲשׂוֹת אֵת אֲשֶׁר־לֹא יֵעָשֶׂה׃

Few scholars have impacted Conservative (in the best sense of that much maligned word) scholarship than Delitzsch.  His commentary on the Old Testament, his translation of the New Testament, and his many monographs have shaped the minds of many.  This present book is a glorious introduction to the man in his time and place and to his contributions in their historical contexts.  I highly recommend it.

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