Daily Archives: 10 May 2019

Word of God, Words of Men

The book presents many aspects of the phenomenon of translation and commentary work of the Bible in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the 16th and 17th centuries. It contains studies of eminent scholars as well as of some young adepts, coming mainly from Poland, but also from Lithuania and Czech Republic. The texts present various aspects of the researches conducted on this phenomenon nowadays. As it was an exceptional movement, extremely varied and long-time lasting, it would be difficult to offer its complete synthesis in one volume. Though, the exhaustive presentation of the historical and linguistic contexts allows the reader to understand the phenomenon. Intensified interest in translations of the Bible is closely connected with the interest in the Polish language, its literary expression as well as its grammatical and orthographic standardisation that occurred just in the same time. The intellectual activity related to the Bible contributed simultaneously to the development of the Polish literary language and even inspired the translations of the sacred texts of other religions present in the country. Moreover, contacts between different languages of Central and Eastern European area, where many attempts of new translations appeared, are very important. A quick rise of the different Reformation movements contributed to a »natural« need for new translations and commentaries to be used by community members. These new currents, first easily accepted and spread in the country, even when suppressed, could not stop this activity, and later new Catholic translations and commentaries of the post-Trident period, both in Polish and Lithuanian, proved it. Big part of study is also dedicated to particular typographical realizations of this activity and an interesting example of the musical expression directly inspired by the biblical translation, is also provided.

This work is extremely specialized and its focus is extraordinarily narrow.  Laser beam narrow.  I think it can be said with confidence that its audience will be a quite specific group of readers; which is a shame, because it is engaging, well written, and informative.

The link above takes readers to the book’s webpage where one finds a ‘leseprobe’.  There readers can sample the table of contents and the front matter.  Please do take a look at some point.

As I suggested above, this volume is quite focused and its chapters are very narrow in scope.  For instance:

Words of God Cut in Wood. Some Remarks about the Illustrations in Polish Renaissance Editions of the Bible.

And

Calvinist Bibles in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.

And

The Lexis of the Gdansk Bible’s New Testament (1632) in Comparison to the Brest Bible’s New Testament (1563) and the New Testament of the Jakub Wujek Bible (1599) – in Search of Adequacy of the Translation into Renaissance Polish.

Such essays will be of interest primarily to specialists in the Eastern European Reformation.  Readers outside of that particular field will probably not be drawn by the title to the contents and readers of the contents will probably not be drawn to read the essays by means of the essay titles.  But, again, they should do so.

Although extremely specialized, these essays provide exactly what historians need: details.  They also provide very fine examples of how particularized historical studies should be pursued.

In our day of dilettantes and pseudo-scholars and when there is widespread belief that if you just read a wikipedia article on a topic, you are well informed and competent, such a study reminds us that historical research is complex and complicated and takes years of familiarizing oneself with primary and secondary sources.

This work, in other words, is a very helpful corrective to dilettantism and amateurism. Even if potential readers don’t think this volume is ‘their thing’, they should take a look.  Where else, after all, will you discover

True to the Humanist principle, the Protestants published new versions whose trademark was the claim, on the title page or in the preface, that the translation had been made from the originals. Often these translations were indeed based on the Hebrew and the Greek, but in their concern to fill an urgent need some translators had recourse to other strategies such as basing themselves on other vernacular or Latin versions reputed to be particularly faithful to the originals. The translation method was either philological, if the original was closely followed (as Erasmus did in his Latin version), or inspired, in a tradition going back to Luther (for this use of the terms philological and inspired cf. Schwarz: 1955, 61 ff). Translators representing the philological tradition seek to echo every Hebrew of Greek word as emanating from the Holy Ghost; an inspired translator will render his source text as faithfully as he can while being driven by the concern to make his language sound natural and idiomatic. The difference boils down to a choice between the ad verbum and the ad sensum principles.

This book teaches.  Enjoy learning.

Quote of the Day

We need Greek & Hebrew because, in our own language, biblical images can come to us blunted & disarmed so that we yawn at the very verses in English that ought to make us burn with shame, be struck dumb with terror, or be carried out of ourselves by ravishing hopes & adorations. — JRR Dodson

Feel Sad for America, People

Today in America if you disagree with anyone you’ve ‘insulted’ them and are subject to bile and grudging.  What tender souls abide here in this formerly great land and how sad that no sort of sensible discourse can be conducted without feelings being hurt and most of all if there isn’t absolute agreement, then you become the enemy.

We have become, truly, a nation of infants.  From the man or woman on the street to the academic in their ivory tower.  Infants abound.

The Vatican Document on Sex Abuse Reporting is a Joke

This is a farce. Until a mandate is issued demanding reporting sexual abuse to state and government police and not just internally to the Church, nothing will change.

A person who hurts children has no place in ministry or even in the church. Such a person is unregenerate, demonic, depraved.

Get your head out of the sand, Pontiff, and do what’s needed and stop aiding and abetting these perverts.

And that goes for all denominations. Root out the reprobates and leave them to damnation, or actual life altering repentance. Whichever they choose.

Bullinger for Today

They serve God … who by faith and obedience gather themselves into the holy assembly at specified times; who keep the ecclesiastical discipline derived out of the word of God; who hear the word of God, or the holy exposition of the sacred scriptures; who pray publicly with the church; who religiously participate in the sacraments; and observe other lawful and wholesome rites or ceremonies. By this their service they glorify God among men… 

Truce-breakers are they, disloyal, and infamous through their adultery, whosoever, being not knit to one God by faith, or worship him alone, or call upon him through Christ, and who do not serve him also as he himself hath said in his word he would be served. — Heinrich Bullinger

On The Anniversary of The German Book-Burning of 10 May, 1933

It may be important- nay- it is important to learn that

buecherverbrennungDoch anders als viele Menschen denken, wurden sie nicht von der NSDAP oder einem Ministerium organisiert, sondern von der Deutschen Studentenschaft, die sich, so vermuten Wissenschaftler, damit den Nationalsozialisten andienen wollten.

German students came up with the bright idea to burn all those books.  Remarkable.  One of the most senseless acts of Nazi history wasn’t thought up by the leadership- it was an act of University students…  the very people who ought to know better.

The essay from which that snippet is drawn is very much worth reading it its entirety.

Today With Zwingli: The Zurich Marriage Ordinance of 1525

zwingliAnother important piece of internal regulation, viz., relative to marriage and divorce, inspired and formulated by Zwingli, was passed by the Councils on May 10, 1525.

Briefly, marriages were usually to be public, in churches, and with the consent of parents or guardians. Even though the discovery should soon be made that the parties were unfitted for living together, still they are to live together for a year, and then they may be divorced.

Divorces may be granted for other causes. Adultery is a crime to be severely punished by the authorities. So also seduction and like offences when marriage cannot be arranged. Those who commit adultery hoping thereby to secure a divorce and so be free to contract another marriage, or to live unchastely, were to be excommunicated and for ever banished. By thus claiming for Zurich the adjudication of the matrimonial cases the break with the past was still further emphasised, as formerly all such cases came to the episcopal court in Constance.  (S.M. Jackson)

Karl Barth as Foe of Naziism

barthDer Schweizer Karl Barth gilt als das theologische Genie des 20. Jahrhunderts. Er hat die Bekennende Kirche mit am stärksten beeinflusst – auch dort, wo man sich seiner Radikalität nicht anschloss. Obgleich konsequent reformierter Theologe hat er doch über die Konfessionsgrenzen hinweg den evangelischen „Kirchenkampf“ maßgeblich bestimmt, zunächst als Theologieprofessor in Bonn, später von Basel aus, wo er für viele Angehörige der Bekennenden Kirche die prominenteste Bezugsperson blieb.

Geboren am 10. Mai 1886, war Barth fest im religiösen Milieu seiner Heimatstadt Basel verwurzelt. Schulzeit und Anfänge des Theologiestudiums verbrachte er in Bern, wechselte später nach Berlin, Tübingen und Marburg. Nach Vikariat und Examen 1908 kam er als Redaktionsgehilfe zur Marburger Zeitschrift „Die Christliche Welt“. Von nachhaltiger Bedeutung wurde ab 1911 seine erste Pfarrstelle in Safenwil im Schweizer Kanton Aargau, wo er mit den sozialen Problemen des Arbeiteralltags konfrontiert wurde. In dieser Zeit intensiver Unterrichts- und Predigtarbeit erfolgte der endgültige Bruch mit der Liberalen Theologie und die Initiative zu einem neuen theologischen Modell – in Gestalt von Barths dort niedergeschriebenem „Römerbrief“ (1918/19). Dieses Buch gilt als Gründungsdokument der Dialektischen Theologie, die den unendlich großen Abstand zwischen Gott und Mensch betont. Noch einflussreicher wurde die zweite Fassung, die Barth 1922 als Honorarprofessor in Göttingen schrieb. Dort gründete er mit Freunden die Zeitschrift „Zwischen den Zeiten“ als Organ der neuen Richtung. Von 1925 bis 1930 folgte eine Professur in Münster, ab 1930 in Bonn, wo die jahrzehntelange Arbeit an der „Kirchlichen Dogmatik“ begann.

Nach der nationalsozialistischen Machtübernahme wurde Barth rasch eine führende Autorität des Kirchenkampfes. Seine Schrift „Theologische Existenz heute!“ (1933) trug maßgeblich zu einem Rückgang der nationalen Begeisterung unter protestantischen Pfarrern und zu einer Rückbesinnung auf Bibel und Bekenntnis bei. Die „Barmer Theologische Erklärung“ (1934) ist wesentlich von ihm bestimmt. Doch bald mochten große Teile der Bekennenden Kirche Barths radikale Absage an die nationalsozialistische Kirchenpolitik und generell an Hitlers Staat in der von ihm eingeforderten Konsequenz nicht mehr mitvollziehen. Als ihm wegen Eidesverweigerung ein Dienststrafverfahren angehängt wurde, blieb öffentlicher Protest der Bekennenden Kirche aus. Barth zog sich, nachdem er 1935 vorzeitig in den Ruhestand versetzt wurde, auf eine Professur nach Basel zurück. Als „Schweizer Stimme“ ermunterte er die Deutschen fortan nachdrücklich zum aktiven Widerstand.

Nach dem Krieg führte Barth die theologische Arbeit fort, vor allem in Gestalt seiner „Kirchlichen Dogmatik“, die er allerdings nicht mehr abschließen konnte. Bis zu seinem Tod am 10. Dezember 1968 blieb er eine der gefragtesten Autoritäten des Protestantismus.

Get the Commentary Barth is Presently Reading…

And that’s this one.  Oh yes, they have books in heaven.  That’s what makes it heaven.

Barth told Brunner today ‘If I had read this commentary earlier in my life I would have avoided every exegetical error I made.’

I know because Brunner told me.  Email me for the pdf, mention this post, and in honor of Barth’s birthday get the entire series for $75.  Today only (along with every other day)