Remembering Adolf Schlatter on the Day He Died

Adolf Schlatter died on the 19th of May in the Year of Our Lord, 1938.  I love Schlatter.  His work is impeccable (yes, literally without sin) and his influence abiding.

I am unashamed to say that I think him one of the smartest exegetes of the 19th or 20th centuries.  He knew the text and it shows on every page of every commentary he wrote.  And he wrote one on every book of the New Testament.  Indeed, several New Testament books were treated more than once!  Sadly, very few of his works have been translated into English, which means he is essentially unknown in the non-German speaking world.

But he also wrote an introduction to the Bible (as a whole), dogmatic, and philosophical works.  He was well read and very learned, as even a cursory glance at his biography will show.

He has been accused of antisemitism by his detractors, and he may well have suffered a bit of it in his last years.  His little piece titled Wird der Jude über uns siegen?  Ein Wort für die Weinachtszeit, which he published in 1935, is more an encouragement to Christian fidelity to the standards of the faith and the uniqueness of Christianity than an attack on Judaism.   Yet, it is more than a little discomfiting.  Especially when Schlatter writes Der Jude haßt- Jesus nimmt dagegen jedem, den sein Wort erfaßt, den Haß aus der Seele.  I sure wish he hadn’t.  But I also wish Luther hadn’t written what he did about the Jews.

Yet the memory of neither Luther nor Schlatter should be controlled by one ill conceived idea when the vast majority of their work was positive and beneficial.  People shouldn’t be remembered only for their mistakes (though of course this is often what happens- in some cases deservedly admittedly).

So, today, read this very well written dissertation on Schlatter.

About Jim

I am a Pastor, and Lecturer in Church History and Biblical Studies at Ming Hua Theological College.
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