Mark Through Old Testament Eyes

Through Old Testament Eyes is a new kind of commentary series that opens the New Testament writings in greater depth to anyone committed to understanding or teaching Scripture. In this inaugural volume, the richness of Old Testament allusions and background in Mark clarifies puzzling passages and explains others in fresh ways.

The exodus motif structures Mark. Mark also presents Jesus as the true temple of God in contrast to the existing temple, which has been corrupted. These important themes are hidden to modern eyes without the insight of an Old Testament perspective, and this commentary builds on that insight to emphasize how the gospel applies to the daily lives of Christians today. 

Kregel was kind enough to send a review copy.  I’ve always loved the ‘Old Testament in the New Testament’ aspect of biblical studies and indeed, my ThM thesis was on the use of Isaiah in the Gospel of John.  So this is, as they say, right up my alley.

The bulk of the volume is made up of verse by verse commentary on the Gospel of Mark but it also includes an Introduction and a list of abbreviations and a select bibliography, end notes, and Scripture index.

The introduction covers some unusual topics (for a commentary) such as a few paragraphs explaining the New Testament writers’ familiarity with the Old Testament, the treatment of obscure references, and then the more normal topic of the structure of Mark, who Mark was, and his use of the Old Testament.  It’s a quite helpful guide to what the author is aiming to achieve here.

The Commentary proper is then immediately turned to.  Phrase by phrase and sometimes word by word, Le Peau guides readers not only through the Marcan text but through the Old Testament subtext.  For instance, of 1:4, he writes

In the wilderness.  Allusions to the exodus of Israel in the wilderness that began in 1:2-3 continue here.

And then of course he goes into further detail for another full page on this verse alone.

One of the things readers can expect to find fairly regularly is the phrase ‘See comment at ______________’ (where the blank indicates the passage location where the issue is previously discussed).  Cf, for instance, at Mark 3:1.

Throughout the volume there are ‘blocks’ of material that in other volumes would be excurses or extensive footnotes.  These are set off from the body of the text by use of greyed boxes.  They range in length from fairly short to very long, depending on our author’s perception that a particular issue needs more or less extensive discussion.

The author does not include the long ending of Mark in his exegesis and instead relegates it (rightly, since it is not authentic) to one of his many greyed-box excurses.

Overall, then, this volume does the job it was intended to do.  It explains the text of the Gospel of Mark by paying particular attention to the points of contact Mark contains in connection to the Old Testament.  It is simple and at places simplistic, utilizing fairly standard tropes like ‘the number seven is the number of perfection’ and that sort of thing as well as taking the reconstructed history of Israel based on a simple straightforward reading of the Old Testament as a given.  Readers will enjoy it so long as they don’t expect too much of it.  It doesn’t address textual or historical issues (relating to the Gospel itself) and there are not what one might consider a lot of endnotes (just about 6 pages for 310 page book).

It is not an academic volume, and does not wish to be.  What it wishes to be is a study guide for small groups or churches and in that respect, with that aim in mind, it achieves its goal magnificently.

Keep Up Your Greek, Hebrew And Aramaic

 

We all know a lot of people who, if they took the biblical languages at all, soon let them go through indifference and failure to keep up by reading.  This looks like a great tool to correct that failure.  Hendrickson has sent each for review, so stay tuned for my take on them.

Reformation of Prayerbooks: The Humanist Transformation of Early Modern Piety in Germany and England

In her study Chaoluan Kao offers a comprehensive investigation of popular piety at the time of the European Reformations through the study of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Protestant prayerbooks. It pursues a historical-contextual approach to spirituality by integrating social and religious history in order to yield a deeper understanding of both the history of Christian piety and of church history in general. The study explores seven prayerbooks by German authors and seventeen English prayerbooks from the Reformation and post-Reformation as well as from Lutheran, Anglican, and Puritan traditions, examining them as spiritual texts with social and theological significance that helped disseminate popular understandings of Protestant piety. Early Protestant piety required intellectual engagement, emphasized a faithful and heartfelt attitude in approaching God, and urged regular exercise in prayer and reading. Early Protestant prayerbooks modeled for their readers a Protestant piety that was a fervent spiritual practice solidly grounded in the social context and connections of its practitioners. Through those books, Reformation could be understood as redefining the meanings of people’s spiritual lives and re-discovering of a pious life. In a broader sense, they functioned as a channel of historical and spiritual transition, which not only tells us the transformation and transmission of Reformation historically but also signifies the development of Christian spirituality. The social-historical study of the prayerbooks furthers our understanding of continuity, change, and inter-confessional influence in the Christian piety of early modern Europe.

V&R have provided a review copy.  Stay tuned.

Sacred Dissonance: The Blessing of Difference in Jewish-Christian Dialogue

Moving beyond the all-too-common shallow recognition of differences, Sacred Dissonance: The Blessing of Difference in Jewish- Christian Dialogue explores the essential distinctions between religious identities and the cultural boundaries between Jews and Christians. Co-authored by colleagues deeply committed to their respective faiths—one a Jewish lawyer, one a Christian New Testament scholar—this book stands in opposition to the notion that all religions are basically the same, an idea commonly put forward in many secular circles or among those who follow personally appointed folkways rather than traditional religions.

Through deeply introspective essays on topics as personal as neighborhood relations and hospitality, and as difficult and sweeping as the Holocaust, Sacred Dissonance challenges the notion that a passive and self-contained approach to religious distinction will bring about peaceful coexistence. In candid conversations between the authors, every section of Sacred Dissonance models the ways in which conversation can be the means of both addressing a difficult past and a challenging present. In the course of exploring the ways in which Jews and Christians can speak to one another, Le Donne and Behrendt show that Christianity can become a “pro-Jewish” religion, Judaism can become a “pro-Christian” religion, and communities of faith can open space for others, rather than turning them away, even without breaking down the differences between them.

Hendrickson has provided a copy for review.

Allow me to begin this review not with the contents of the book proper but with the Foreword- by AJ Levine.  It’s the ideal lead-in to the volume and is worth the price of admission all by itself.  Her taxonomy of debate and conversation is one of the most astute pieces of literary art you’ll ever read.  And it only gets better from there.  Her 3 pages are super.

The volume itself is a series of chapters written by our dialogue partners addressing specific questions of Jewish-Christian dialogue and then a recording transcript of their followup discussions.  So, for instance, when they discuss the Holocaust we have a chapter by Behrendt and then a chapter by Le Donne and then a transcript of their followup discussion.

It’s a pretty neat way to organize a volume and they cover the central issues except the one that I wish they had discussed- the Modern State of Israel and Christian Zionism.  And apparently they knew I would be interested in that (along with others no doubt) because in the Preface they explain why that discussion is absent.  I honestly wish they had come to a different conclusion because to my mind the question of Jewish-Christian relations cannot move forward until we discuss the interconnectedness of Evangelical Fundamentalism as manifested in Christian Zionism and the Modern State of Israel’s courting that movement for its own ends.

What they do discuss, though, is quite engaging: how they came to dialogue; ‘borders’; the Holocaust; ‘Posture’.  And then they offer some concluding thoughts and a brief Afterword.

My reaction to the volume is 90% positive (it really is a finely organized and engaging work) and 10% negative.  The absence of the issue of modern Israel is too big a lacuna to simply ignore.  It needs to have been included because without it we are genuinely left with a quite truncated and incomplete discussion.  The discussion we have, let me hasten to add, is great.  But the absence of that one issue is so stark and so inexplicable (in spite of the authorial protest to the contrary) that 9% of me is saddened.  The other 1% of my disappointment stems from the fact that the authors do some things that they shouldn’t.

Allow me to explain: first, they cite Wikipedia.  Why would anyone cite Wikipedia when there are reliable sources available?  And second, they haul into the discussion various philosophical perspectives without ever really explaining what those perspectives are.  Trocme?  Why?

In any event, this is a very worthwhile read.  I can overlook their use of Wikipedia and their trotting out dead philosophers.  I can accept, grimacing, their bypassing of the central issue of our day (Christian Zionism and the State of Israel), and I can heartily recommend this volume to you.  If you are concerned about Jewish-Christian relations this work will get the door open and hopefully it will provoke some genuine conversations between genuine people.

If it does that, I suspect its authors will be quite pleased.  Maybe they’ll be pleased enough to finish the conversation themselves…  Stay tuned for Volume 2: Christian Zionism and Modern Israel….

The Personal Luther: Essays on the Reformer from a Cultural Historical Perspective

Overwhelmingly, Martin Luther has been treated as the generator of ideas concerning the relationship between God and humankind. The Personal Luther deliberately departs from that church-historiographic tradition. Luther was a voluble and irrepressible divine. Even though he had multiple ancillary interests, such as singing, playing the lute, appreciating the complexities of nature, and observing his children, his preoccupation was, as he quickly saw it, bringing the Word of God to the people.

This book is not about Luther’s theology except insofar as any ideational construct is itself an expression of the thinker who frames it. Luther frequently couched his affective utterances within a theological framework. Nor is it a biography; it does not portray a whole life. Rather, it concentrates on several heretofore neglected aspects of the Reformer’s existence and personality.

The subjects that appear in this book are meant to demonstrate what such core-taking on a range of mainly unexplored facets of the Reformer’s personality and experience can yield. It will open the way for other secular researchers to explore the seemingly endless interests of this complicated individual. It will also show that perspectives of cultural historians offer the broadest possible evidentiary base within which to analyze a figure of the past.

Brill have sent along a review copy.

First, in terms of contents- the volume consists of the following chapters (along with the usual preface and introduction and an index)

1 Luther’s Ego-documents: Cultural History and the Reconstruction of the Historical Self
2 Luther’s Conscience: A Template for the Modern West?
3 Luther’s Friendship with Frederick the Wise
4 Luther’s Relational God. Finding a Loving Heavenly Father
5 Fleshly Work. The Sex Act as Christian Liberty
6 The Masculinity of Martin Luther. Theory, Practicality, and Humour
7 The Tenderness of Daughters, the Waywardness of Sons. Martin Luther as a Father
8 Martin Luther’s Heart
9 Martin Luther’s Perfect Death
10 The Imprint of Personality upon the Reformation

The volume is rich in details and documentation and even richer in breadth of scope. Many volumes on Luther focus on his theology. Many focus on his biography. But few (and the good ones doing so are even fewer and further between) examine Luther the ‘person’. What kind of person was Luther? What were his attitudes towards himself, his friends, God, liberty, masculinity, sexuality, children, and death? This work attempts to examine precisely those questions.

Our author expresses the book’s intention thusly:

This book is not about Luther’s theology except insofar as any ideational construct is itself an expression of the thinker who frames it. Luther frequently couched his affective utterances within a theological framework. Nor is it a biography; it does not portray a whole life. Rather, it concentrates on several heretofore neglected aspects of the Reformer’s existence and personality.

Those ‘neglected aspects’ of Luther’s existence are genuinely engaged and explored. Each chapter can be read independently and they need not be read in order. Those interested in Luther’s attitude to sex and his understanding of sexuality (a hot button these days if ever there were one) can feel comfortable reading that segment of the tome without feeling as though they are missing something of the argument if they skip what comes before it. These chapters are not interlocked.

Susan’s writing style is professional and enjoyable.  She can write.  She can inform, without being a bore.  For example,

From Martin Luther’s perspective, fatherhood was central to Protestant masculinity. Luther had launched a revolution in the clerical world not just of theology but of the social placement of the pastor. In a literal sense, Luther had clergymen rejoin society by marrying and founding households. Henceforward, their liaisons were public and legitimate, and very quickly their spouses came to be drawn from social ranks that were commensurate with their own. Concubines had a more humble provenance, which symbolized their fragile respectability. After the Reformation, pastors, preacher, and deacons no longer paid concubinage and cradle fees, for they were doing nothing to be fined for. Late medieval and early modern secular society regarded marriage and reproduction as the norm. Even though the Catholic priesthood had officially practiced celibacy, chastity in the form of sexual abstinence often did not accompany the unwed state. Probably out of their desire for stability and a sense of the irresistibility of sexual desire, communities tolerated the long term cohabitation of priests and their ‘housekeepers’. For similar reasons and their monetary advantage, bishops, too, accepted an annual fine and ‘looked through their fingers’ at paired-off clergymen.59 Their progeny were a bit of an embarrassment and an inconvenience. They were barred from craftguilds and from claims to inherit.

I recommend all who wish to understand Luther better, as a person and not simply a hero or a villain or a theologian or a translator or a Professor take this book in hand and make use of its learning to enhance your own.

Bultmann Handbuch

bultmann

This gem has been published by Mohr

Rudolf Bultmann (1884–1976) prägte durch seinen hermeneutischen Ansatz die exegetischen und systematisch-theologischen sowie kirchlichen Diskurse des 20. Jahrhunderts wesentlich mit. Als Mitbegründer der formgeschichtlichen Schule und früher Vertreter der Dialektischen Theologie setzte er sich in den 1920er Jahren kritisch mit Positionen der liberalen Theologie auseinander und rückte die hermeneutische Frage nach den Verstehensbedingungen der biblischen Texte sowie deren Bedeutung für die Leserinnen und Leser in der Moderne in den Fokus seiner wissenschaftlichen Arbeit. Seine Theologie entwickelte Bultmann im Gespräch und in der Auseinandersetzung; so pflegte er einen intensiven Austausch mit Kolleginnen und Kollegen auch anderer wissenschaftlicher Disziplinen, mit Studentinnen und Studenten, mit Pfarrerinnen und Pfarrern.

Dieses Handbuch bietet neben einem ersten Orientierungsabschnitt über Bultmanns Werke und den gegenwärtigen Forschungsstand, in einem zweiten Abschnitt einen Zugang zur Person. Darin werden die Biographie, die theologischen Prägungen, die Beziehungen zu wichtigen Gesprächspartnern und seine politisch-gesellschaftlichen Kontexte in den Blick genommen. Eine Beschäftigung mit dem Werk Bultmanns findet im dritten Abschnitt statt. In diesem Abschnitt werden die vielfältigen Gattungen und Themen seines Œuvres behandelt sowie die sein Gesamtwerk prägenden Strukturen. Schließlich wird die Wirkung und Rezeption seiner Theologie insbesondere im deutschsprachigen Raum dargestellt und diskutiert. Das Handbuch eignet sich für eine erste Orientierung in der Beschäftigung mit Bultmann; es ist darüber hinaus auch ein Nachschlagewerk für Fachleute und Bultmann-Kenner.

The publisher has sent along a review copy. More soon.

Philipp Melanchthon in 100 persönlichen Briefen

Philipp Melanchthon (1497–1560) had been a colleague and close collaborator of Martin Luther’s in Wittenberg for 28 years. 100 selected letters in chronological order illuminate important events from his life. Most of them now appear in German translation for the first time. Melanchthon’s manifold scientific interests, his reformatory and pedagogical work express themselves in those letters, as especially private aspects such as friendships, emotions, hopes and dreams do, too. This allows deep insight into everyday life during the Reformation in Germany and direct access to his life.

My review of this exceptionally enjoyable book will post tomorrow.

Im Jubiläumsjahr 2017 eine Auswahl von Melanchthons Briefen in deutscher Übersetzung vorzulegen, ist ein doppeltes Statement: 1. Ohne Philipp Melanchthon bleibt jedes Reformationsgedenken und -narrativ unvollständig. Und 2.: Der beste Gewährsmann für MelanchthonsWirken istMelanchthon selbst. Aus den rund 9.750 noch erhaltenen Texten seines Briefwechsels eine Auswahl von 100 Briefen zu treffen, ist allerdings ein schwieriges Unterfangen, das einem viel Mut zur Lücke abverlangt. Der Kreis der hierbei ausgewählten Adressaten umfasst Könige und Fürsten, Humanisten und Reformatoren, Familienangehörige und Freunde, Kollegen, Studenten und Schüler sowie deren Väter und Mütter. In wenigen (sechs) Fällen wurden auch Gegenbriefe aufgenommen, so dass an diesen Stellen der dialogische Charakter der Textgattung Brief jeweils sehr deutlich zum Ausdruck kommt.

This fine little collection of letters, with their thorough documentation and helpful notations, is a quite healthy reminder of the significance of someone besides Luther and the contributions others besides Luther have made to the progress of Christianity in the 16th century.  What Melanchthon writes in these letters is revealing of the inner workings of the chief actors of that historical drama.

Take, for instance, this brief passage, from him to Henry VIII of England in London, from Frankfurt/Main, 26. March, 1539:

Obwohl Deine Hoheit dieses Wohlwollen bereits früher deutlich zum Ausdruck gebracht hat, habe ich mich trotzdem gefreut, dass mir Deine überaus freundlichen Äußerungen von demjenigen überbracht wurden, den ich als mein zweites Ich betrachte.Weil Du unseren Arbeiten wohlgesonnen bist, empfehle ich mich Deiner Hoheit ehrerbietig.

Or this one- to Paul Eber in 1547:

Obwohl ich mir die Trostgründe, die zur Linderung der Trauer überliefert werden, vor Augen halte, quält es mich unglaublich, wenn ich an die Tränen meiner Tochter denke, als sie nach uns gefragt wurde. Dieses Schweigen und ihre Tränen haben meine Seele unheilbar verwundet. Aber schlimmer als dieser private Schmerz ist der öffentliche. Bucer schrieb einen reichlich kühlen Brief. Er hofft auf Frieden und eine unversehrte Stadt. Uns erschüttert die Sorge um „das ganze Staatsschiff“, wie es einst hieß. Wir wollen zu Gott beten, dass er „im Zorn seiner Barmherzigkeit gedenkt“ und das private wie das öffentliche unglück mildert. Ich schickeDir ein Blatt mit Trostgründen, das ich verfasst habe.

These and many others show readers the web of connections between the well known and the unknown.  This volume is important precisely because it shows us behind the scenes into the true inner workings of the minds of Melanchthon and his contemporaries.  It’s one thing to read a formal work like the commentary to Romans or the Loci and quite another to read personal letters never intended for wide public consumption.  We learn more from letters, oftentimes, than we do from formal treatises.

Those, then, interested in learning about Melanchthon should do themselves the favor of obtaining and absorbing this very handy collection of thoughtful and provocative lines from Philipp’s pen.

Die schweizerische Reformation: Ein Handbuch

Die Reformation ist eines der grossen Ereignisse der Schweizer Geschichte. Die neuen religiösen Auffassungen lösen heftige soziale Konflikte aus, die die Vertrauensbasis zwischen den katholischen und protestantischen Orten erschüttern und den Zusammenhalt der Eidgenossenschaft infrage stellen. Der starke Einfluss des Humanismus, die ausgewogenen Machtverhältnisse in den Städten und die religiöse Autonomie vieler Landgemeinden – das alles zusammen gibt der Reformation in der Schweiz ein unverwechselbares Profil.

Das Handbuch zeichnet detailliert die Ausbreitung der reformatorischen Bewegung in den Städten Zürich, Bern, Basel, St. Gallen, Schaffhausen und in den ländlichen Gebieten wie Graubünden, Appenzell und der französischsprachigen Schweiz, aber auch die gescheiterten Reformationen oder die Täuferbewegung nach. Es zeigt, wie sich im Lauf des 16. Jahrhunderts aus einer diffusen Bewegung eine disziplinierte Gruppe von Kirchen mit definierten Glaubenssätzen und eigenständiger Kultur entwickelt hat, und erkundet die Langzeitfolgen der Reformation auf die schweizerische Gesellschaft, auf die religiöse Kultur wie die Alltagskultur, auf Bildung, Gemeinwesen und Politik.  Mit Beiträgen von Irena Backus, Jan-Andrea Bernhard, Erich Bryner, Amy Nelson Burnett, Emidio Campi, Bruce Gordon, Kaspar von Greyerz, Sundar Henny, Karin Maag, Thomas Maissen, Martin Sallmann, Regula Schmid und Andrea Strübind.

The publisher has graciously provided a review copy.  More in due course.

The Dictionary of the Bible and Ancient Media

The Dictionary of the Bible and Ancient Media is a convenient and authoritative reference tool, introducing specific terms and concepts helpful to the study of the Bible and related literature in ancient communications culture. Since the early 1980s, biblical scholars have begun to explore the potentials of interdisciplinary theories of oral tradition, oral performance, personal and collective memory, ancient literacy and scribality, visual culture and ritual. Over time these theories have been combined with considerations of critical and exegetical problems in the study of the Bible, the history of Israel, Christian origins, and rabbinics. The Dictionary of the Bible and Ancient Media responds to the rapid growth of the field by providing a source of reference that offers clear definitions, and in-depth discussions of relevant terms and concepts, and the relationships between them.

A review copy was provided some weeks ago and my thoughts on the work follow:

The volume contains a list of entries, a list of contributors (which is almost as long as the list of entries), editorial bios of the three chief editors, a little entry called ‘How to use this book’ and an introduction to media studies and biblical studies.

Entries include such topics as ‘Jan Assmann’, ‘Rudolf Bultmann’, ‘Circumcision’, ‘Code Switching’, ‘Dance’, ‘Epigraphy’, ‘Guslar’ (and I admit, I had no idea what that was supposed to be.  I imagined it must be some sort of Hipster beer or some such thing), ‘Iconography in the Hebrew Bible’, ‘Libraries’, a half dozen or so entries on some aspect of ‘Memory’ (which one would expect given the presence of Chris Keith on the editorial board), ‘Susan Niditch’, ‘Pilgrimage’, ‘Plato (on Writing and Memory)’, ‘Riddles’, ‘Social Memory’ (!), ‘Targums’, ‘Verbatim Memory’ (!!), ‘Wax Tablet’, and a great hoard of others.

It may seem, at first glance, that the topics  selected for entry are completely random, or ideologically motivated.  But that isn’t actually the case.  Rather, the selected topics all do ‘fit together’ and when the volume’s opening section is consulted (the bit called ‘How to use this book’) it all makes actual sense.  It aims, according to the editors, to introduce users to the blossoming field of Media studies and its fruitfulness (or at least potential fruitfulness) for biblical studies, ‘… by providing a convenient handbook of key terms, concepts, methods, and voices that are frequently encountered in media-critical studies of the Bible’.

Naturally, they continue, the entries in the Dictionary are not exhaustive, and many other topics could be included.  Yet it seems clear to this reader that their own key term is ‘communications culture’.  That is the term that summarizes the volume and its central concern.  It is, I presume, the newest ‘buzzword’ and I suspect in the next few years many, many papers at SBL will include somewhere in their titles the phrase ‘Communications Culture’ or ‘Media Culture’.  This volume, to put it plainly, will probably just be the first of many which focus on ‘communications’ in connection with Biblical Studies.

Whether ‘communications culture’ will become the latest flash in the pan fad of biblical studies or whether it will eek out a permanent place in the methodological universe remains to be seen.  We appear to be merely at the opening of the play, with several acts to follow (to mix metaphors).

The question, at present, remains:  is this a useful volume?  Every reader will have their own opinion on the topic and answer to that question, but for my part, I would say yes, very much so; and no, perhaps not.  Allow me to excerpt a portion in illustration of my answer by means of a snippet of the entry on Bultmann:

I think it fair to say that Bultmann would be very surprised to learn that he was a practitioner of ‘Media Criticism of the Bible’.  So perhaps the method is a bit forced at this point.  Perhaps it’s seeing ‘media criticism’ where none is really to be found.  But of course this is a natural stage in the development in any new methodology: in striving to justify its existence, it must provide examples of it.  Sometimes those examples are more than a little tendentious.

However, let me hasten to say that the book does better.  Here’s an excerpt from an entry that actually does have to do with media:

Thus the volume strives mightily to justify itself and its nascent methodology and at some points it fails but in many it succeeds.  For what is essentially the first attempt at a new field in relationship to study of the bible, it’s very useful.

I recommend it.  It will surely be turned to by students and scholars in the near future as a groundbreaking resource.  Whether, however, it has shelf life remains to be seen.

Nestle-Aland 28 With the NRSV and REB in Parallel

This is the twenty-eighth edition of the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece (NA28). NA28 is the standard scholarly edition of the Greek New Testament used by scholars, Bible translators, professors, students, and pastors worldwide. Now NA28 has been revised and improved:

  • Critical apparatus revised and easier to use
  • Papyrii 117-127 included for the first time
  • In-depth revision of the Catholic Epistles, with more than 30 changes to the upper text
  • Scripture references systematically reviewed for accuracy
  • The NA28 with NRSV/REB Greek-English New Testament includes the 28th edition of the Nestle Aland Novum Testamentum Graece, the New Revised Standard Version, and the Revised English Bible.

Naturally, given that each of these editions of the Bible have been around for years now and been reviewed and available for examination by students, scholars, and exegetes there’s no need at all to reinvent the wheel and review them all individually.  The NRSV is an exceptionally well constructed edition of the English Bible.  The 28th edition of Nestle-Aland is the standard scholarly text for a reason.  And the Revised English Bible is, as I have said in several different ways at several different times, simply the best, most accurate, most judicious, and most exciting translation of the Bible in English yet produced.

It is with the latter point in mind that the present volume under discussion deserves attention: for it is the first edition to include the REB on facing pages with the Greek text of the New Testament.  The Greek text is printed on every other page and on the facing page two columns consisting of the NRSV in regular print and the REB in italic print are made available.

The immediately obvious benefit of an edition of the Greek text like this is that while reading the Greek text, two superb editions of the English can be consulted immediately, without needing multiple volumes open on one’s desk.  Likewise, if the English text is being studied then access to the Greek text is immediate and simple.

Editions of the Bible which print the original languages (Hebrew and Greek) on pages facing an English version are superior to interlinears as well.  The reader has to know the original language in order to locate words and phrases in verses that are consulted whereas with an interlinear the reader can pretend knowledge which he or she in fact does not possess.

One of the greatest frauds presently perpetrated against students and church folk is the lecturer or preacher pretending knowledge of the Biblical languages (which they actually do not possess).  This is normally done either by a fraudulent reference to one of the meanings provided by ‘Strong’s Concordance’, a terribly outdated and essentially useless tool beloved of the linguistically illiterate; or by means of an interlinear.  With that ‘tool’ in hand, even the most inept pseudo-scholar can appear learned.  However, such dishonesty usually becomes quite apparent as soon as the lecturer or preacher attempts to pronounce a Hebrew or Greek word and bungles it so miserably that anyone with as much as an elementary knowledge of the language catches the nonsense immediately.

In sum, then, the new NA28 with NRSV and REB is a superb resource for students of the Bible and is so much better than any interlinear that one may be tempted to acquire that such an acquisition (of said interlinear) would be foolhardy.

Many years ago a famed Biblical Scholar told his students to go and sell whatever they needed to sell in order to buy a Septuagint.  I would modify that a bit and urge you to go and sell whatever you need to sell in order to buy this edition of the Greek New Testament.  Mine goes with me everywhere.  I can’t leave home without it.

Theodizee

V&R published this volume just last year, but it seems particularly relevant these days. The link provides a flipbook showing the table of contents and other front matter.

The question of the justice or righteousness of God has tormented (or at least troubled) believers since at least as long ago as the period of the composition of Job (and doubtless much earlier).

Philosophical attempts to answer the question are set alongside theological attempts in this learned volume and readers are provided with all the major attempts to untie  this Gordian Knot, and left free to choose for themselves which is most satisfying.

Our author sets forth his aim thusly-

Ich versuche das alte Problem auf der Basis biblischer Zeugnisse neu zu bestimmen, so dass die theologische Perspektive nicht als eine Art „Krisenmanagement“ erscheint, sondern als eigenständiger Zugang sichtbar wird.

Insightfully he remarks

Nicht unser Wissen ist hier gefragt, sondern unsere Hoffnung.

And that’s certainly true.  Those who approach this issue aren’t really looking for answers to their questions, they are looking for hope, not knowledge.  The achievement of this quest follows a most sensible outline (on which, once more, see the link above and visit the table of contents).

The journey Link takes us on is one of thoughtful discovery and profound reflection as we ascend ever further, in concentric circles, visiting with philosophers and theologians along the way, towards the apex of the problem.  Towards the summit we read

Noch erfahren wir die Wirklichkeit des Bösen am eigenen Leibe, noch gibt es das „ängstliche Seufzen der Kreatur“ (Röm 8,19). Noch haben wir keine Antwort auf die Frage, warum das alles so sein muss. Auch die Kirche ist noch nicht an ihrem Ziel, sondern unterwegs. Sie kann den Grund ihrer Gewissheit nicht als Tatsache aufweisen. Sie „hat“ ihn nur in der Präsenz des Zeichens: in der Auferweckung des Gekreuzigten und in der Ausgießung des Geistes. Darum ist sie an den historischen Ort dieses Zeichens, die „Umgebung von Golgatha“ (Barth), gewiesen und blickt von dort aus in die Zukunft. Das aber tut sie schon heute in der Gewissheit, dass ihre Situation sich tatsächlich gewandelt hat gemäß dem Wort des Apostels Paulus: „Die Nacht ist vorgedrungen, der Tag aber nahe herbeigekommen“ (Röm 13,12).

Perhaps that’s the solution to be seen from the peak of this theological Himalaya: the night is passing, and day is dawning.  This volume pushes the mists of misprision aside and exposes the heart and soul of an ever abiding theological dilemma.

Link may not solve the problem, but he helps us towards it more than any of his predecessors, and that’s an amazing accomplishment itself.  Here we have a book worth reading several times.  And that’s my current plan.  I’m going to read it again.  I invite you to join me.

Rudolf Bultmann: Briefwechsel mit Götz Harbsmeier und Ernst Wolf 1933–1976

Die Briefwechsel Rudolf Bultmanns mit dem Praktischen Theologen Götz Harbsmeier sowie dem Kirchenhistoriker und späteren Systematiker Ernst Wolf werden in einer gemeinsamen Edition zugänglich gemacht. Schließlich berühren sich die beiden Korrespondenzen nicht nur vielfach inhaltlich, sondern nehmen auch aufeinander Bezug. Somit wird eine facettenreiche und differenzierte Wahrnehmung der verhandelten Themen möglich, denen nicht nur eine theologiegeschichtliche Bedeutung, sondern auch eine hohe Relevanz für Theologie und Kirche in der Gegenwart zukommt. Die Themenpalette reicht dabei von der Entmythologisierungsdebatte, über die Schuldfrage und den Neuanfang in Kirche und Gesellschaft nach 1945, die Verhältnisbestimmung von Bekennender Kirche und liberalem Protestantismus, bis hin zum Problem der politischen Aktivität innerhalb der Kirche. Die Briefwechsel sind eindrucksvolle Zeugnisse theologischer und persönlicher Weggenossenschaft.

The one aspect of Rudolf Bultmann’s life with which too many are unfamiliar is his amazing collegiality.  Here at hand in the present volume one discovers the richness and fullness of that collegiality as Bultmann corresponds with a Pastor and a Philosopher.  The volume begins with an impressive introduction, a table listing all of the correspondence included in the book, a list of abbreviations, and various photographs and facsimilies.

The first half of the volume is then comprised of letters between Bultmann and Harbsmeier (126 in all) and a series of appendices which consist of letters from Karl Barth to Harbsmeier, a series of theses by H., a bit of correspondence between Wolf and H., and other important historical documents.  There are 11 of these appendices in the first half of the entire collection.

The second half of the book is the correspondence between Wolf and Bultmann (70 in all) and then again a series of 10 appendices included a brief biography of Wolf, a bit of Thielicke correspondence, a brilliant, brilliant essay by Bultmann titled ‘For Christian Freedom’ (1949) which really ought to be widely read in our own troubled times, and other equally engaging historical documents.

The volume concludes with a bibliography, biblical index, institution index, periodical index, an index of places, people, and subjects.  So, for instance, if one wishes to read about the ‘wrath of God’, the places where that concept is discussed is easily discoverable.  Even Zwingli is included (!) (on page 569).

The most delightful aspect of the collection is, however, the amazing information we discover in the letters themselves.  on 17 October, 1969, for instance, we learn that Bultmann’s wife had been very sick for some weeks and was hospitalized and that Bultmann’s eyes were giving him trouble.

24 August, 1936 finds us reading over Bultmann’s shoulder as he writes in the most straightforward terms concerning the German Christians.   He signs the letter quite formally, and authoritatively ‘D. Rudolf Bultmann, o. Professor der Theologie’.  Bultmann was unafraid to speak out as one of the leading authorities in German theology on the issues of the day, even as others feared reprisal or expulsion.

There is, as I’ve mentioned before, so much to learn from the personal correspondence of the great.  Sometimes we learn more from letters than we do formal essays or books.  Letters open up lives.  Students of Bultmann or just students of Church history will find this volume to be amazingly engaging.  It is certainly, then, most heartily recommended.

Ad fontes!

The Unreformed Martin Luther: A Serious (and Not So Serious) Look at the Man Behind the Myths

After five hundred years of examining the life of the “father of the Reformation,” we must surely know all there is to know about Martin Luther. But is that true?

  • Did he really nail his Ninety-Five Theses to the church door?
  • Did he throw an inkpot at the devil?
  • Did he plant an apple tree?
  • Did his wife escape her convent in a herring barrel?

German radio and television journalist Andreas Malessa looks at the actual history of Luther and concludes that many of the tales we know best are nothing but nonsense.

Diving gleefully into the research, Malessa investigates many of the falsehoods and fallacies surrounding the reformer, rejecting them in favor of equally incredible facts. Full of humor and irony, this book educates and entertains while demonstrating a profound respect for Luther’s life and mission.

If you’re looking for the truth of the man behind the theses, come discover his faith and influence–with the myths stripped away.

Kregel have provided a review copy.   It is an English edition of this little and thoroughly fantastic book.  If the English rendition is as good as the German original, this book belongs in every person’s hands.

The Complete Hebrew – Greek Bible

Hendrickson have just published this new volume:

Hendrickson’s The Complete Hebrew-Greek Bible combines under one cover the complete text of the Hebrew Bible and the Greek New Testament. Ideal for pastors, students, scholars, and anyone else who has studied both Greek and Hebrew, this is an excellent volume for those who want a complete original-language Bible in an attractive package and at an affordable price.

The Hebrew text is a beautifully typeset version of the Biblia Hebraica Leningradensis, edited by Aron Dotan.
Features:
– Qere forms are clearly set off in the margin (with corresponding unpointed Kethiv forms in the main text).
– The text is unencumbered by a critical apparatus, allowing for ease of reading.

The Greek New Testament is a recent typesetting of the edition produced by B. F. Westcott and F. J. A. Hort.
Features:
– Pericopes are labeled in English, and in the Gospels these labels are accompanied, where appropriate, by the verse references of their synoptic parallels.
– Quotations and allusions to the Old Testament are indicated in the Greek text in bold, with references at the bottom of the page.
– A straightforward, unobtrusive apparatus is found at the bottom of the page that presents the differences in wording between the Westcott-Hort edition and the 27th edition of Nestle-Aland’s Novum Testamentum Graece, as well as the Byzantine text edition prepared by Maurice Robinson and William Pierpont.

I will presume, for the sake of argument, that readers of the Greek New Testament and the Hebrew Old Testament are familiar with the standard scholarly editions: Westcott-Hort, Nestle-Aland, Leningradensis, BHS, BHK, BHQ, etc.

I will also assume, for the sake of brevity, that those same readers are familiar with the textual apparatus of the GNT and the HB in their various incarnations.  In accordance with those two assumptions I will in what follows not bother to ‘review’ either Westcott-Hort nor Nestle-Aland nor Leningradensis.  Familiarity with those is presumed.

What I will do is point out the makeup of the present edition and highlight its particular contribution to textual criticism and study of the biblical texts in their original languages.

First, the volume can be opened from either direction.  If from the ‘front’ (for those familiar with Western language books) then one opens into the New Testament.  If opened from the ‘back’ (the front for readers of Hebrew and other Northwest Semitic languages), one commences with the Hebrew Bible.

The New Testament portion of the volume includes a list of abbreviations and a Foreword by Eldon Jay Epp.  Here he describes the development of Westcott-Hort’s text and offers a nicely well rounded bibliography for further study.

Next follows an Introduction to the present edition wherein the editors have described all the factoids useful for a proper appreciation and use of the volume.  The textual apparatus is incredibly simple and consists of variants between WH, NA27, and Robinson/Pierpont’s Byzantine text.  These variants are located at the bottom of each page.  Further, the text proper of the New Testament includes bold face sections which indicate Old Testament citations or allusions.  Section headings are in English (rather like UBS 4 and 5).

The font utilized is really quite lovely and the paper is thin but not ‘Bible paper’ thin.  It’s nice.  The pages are single column.

Turning to the Hebrew Bible, the text is Leningradensis.  There are no footnotes of any kind and very few Masoretic notes – and these are in the margins.  The Hebrew font utilized is bold and graceful.

Following the text of Leningradensis, a series of appendices are provided.  These are

  • A- Manuscript variants
  • B- Petuhot and Setumot (Torah and Esther)
  • C- The Shape of the Songs in the Manuscript
  • D- Deviation in Gemination in the Tiberian Vocalization
  • E- Scripture Readings

Each will be of particular interest to liturgical users of the Hebrew Bible.

So, to the question at hand- why another edition of the Hebrew Bible and Greek New Testament?  First, might I remind readers that just a few years ago, there were NO editions of the Hebrew Old Testament and Greek New Testament under one cover.  The German Bible Society published the first such edition, and titled it Biblia Sacra Utriusque Testamenti Editio Hebraica Et Graeca. This volume is, however, already out of circulation and only available at extortionist prices.  So at present the only option really available is the present Hendrickson edition.

Second, If history teaches us anything it’s that such volumes don’t hang around on the sale shelves long so I might recommend that you obtain a copy while you can.  It is very much worth having- both for the Westcott-Hort text and the simplified textual apparatus (and you can always consult the usual editions if you have more textual questions) and for the lovely Hebrew text.

The price is incredible.  You won’t find a one volume edition of the Bible (old and new testaments in their original languages) any less expensively.  Anywhere.

Women and Lust

The author of the little gem titled ‘Women and Lust‘ sent a copy for review and I have to say, I think it’s one of the most important practical little booklets I’ve seen in many a year.  It discusses a topic seldom addressed in the context of the Church.  Indeed, it’s something I never have, and probably never will talk about specifically- the subject of women and lust.

We’re all familiar with the fact that men have a problem with lusting.  Jesus talked about it quite openly and all of us know the danger of lust and all its implications in modern life, in reference to men.  But women are hardly ever spoken to about the same issue.  Sarah’s book fixes that.

To be sure, I am not a woman.  But I can nonetheless heartily recommend this tractate to women.  Sarah writes in an engaging style and illustrates the issue in a plainspoken, direct, folksy, down to earth way.  She relates the stories of women who suffer the problem of lust, the truth that it is a common problem among women, the biblical truth that sex is a gift of God and not a curse, that lust is not the unforgivable sin (my term, not hers), and biblical examples of the power of love to overcome sin in our lives no matter what it is.  She even cites John Calvin!

The only thing wrong with this little tome is that Sarah doesn’t cite Zwingli.  Other than that, it’s gloriously done and immensely insightful and utterly helpful.  I heartily commend it to the Christian women of the world.  I’m naming it my ‘book of the week’.

I can’t wait to see what she writes next.  She’s far better and far more theologically astute than the likes of Rachel Held-Evans and Nadia Bolz-Weber.   So, Sarah, we’re waiting quite eagerly for your next book.

Heinrich Bullinger: Briefe von Oktober bis Dezember 1546

Der neue Band des Bullinger-Briefwechsels enthält 130 zwischen Oktober und Dezember 1546 verfasste Briefe, denen jeweils eine ausführliche deutsche Zusammenfassung vorangeht. Involviert sind 42 Briefschreiber, insbesondere Ambrosius Blarer, Oswald Myconius, Johannes Haller und Martin Bucer. Der Band vermittelt Informationen zum Schmalkaldischen Krieg (1546/47), zur politischen Haltung der Eidgenossen, zum Geschehen in Augsburg, zur Schule in Kappel und Chur, zum Kirchenwesen in Basel und Bern, zum Bibliotheksnachlass des Zuger Reformators Werner Steiner wie auch zu zahlreichen zeitgenössischen Publikationen. Ausserdem finden sich im Band viele unbekannte biografische Details, u. a. zu einem Verwandten von Andreas Vesalius und zu den Berner Dekanen Jodocus Kilchmeyer und Johannes Fädminger.

With thanks to the publisher, TVZ, for the review copy.

As I’ve stated before in reviewing these volumes from TVZ, the importance of having primary sources is inexpressible.  Without primary sources, we have nothing of use in historical research.  Indeed, without primary sources, we are incapable of historical research.

Of particular importance are the letters to and from important historical personages.  This is true whether the letters come from the 4th century or the 14th or the 16th or the 20th or the 21st.  Letters allow us into the actual lives of people.  We read over their shoulder and find out the sorts of things that both motivated and troubled, encouraged and discouraged them.

In the case of Bullinger and his amazingly expansive correspondence, we learn that he talks about books a lot.  He talks about books he’s reading, books he has read, books he is writing, and books he wishes others would write (and not have written).  He discusses people, events, places, troubles, victories, joys, sorrows, and every little thing that crossed his mind.

The present volume contains letters Bullinger sent and received between October and December, 1546.  They include the known (Blarer) and the unknown (Bernhard von Cham).  The volume includes a foreword by Peter Opitz and a fantastic introduction by Reinhard Bodenmann extending from page 13 through page 46.

The index at the conclusion of the volume focuses primarily on people and places.  Correspondents are indicated by bold print.  There is no Scripture index.  The great thing about the index is that if a reader wants to consult letters which discuss a particular person (like Zwingli) then one is easily able to do so.  If one wishes to see what Bullinger and his correspondents thought about Luther or Melanchthon that is also quite easy to do.

In two years’ time, the present volume will be integrated into the electronic edition of Bullinger’s correspondence, in which the 2620 letters published so far in the previous 17 volumes are freely available on the website http://teoirgsed.uzh.ch/.

Unfortunately, because funding has been cut for the project, the publication of this invaluable source for European history in the age of the Reformation is at stake! Hopefully some institution or some rich donors willing to eternalize their names will be found in order to avoid such a shameful end!

Three Volumes: ‘Joshua’, ‘Job’ and ‘Jeremiah’

Bloomsbury is publishing, as I’ve mentioned before, a series of ‘Study Guides to the Old Testament‘ written by members of the Society for Old Testament Study.  I reviewed a couple for the Old Testament Book List and now I’ve received the volumes on Joshua, Job  and Jeremiah and here’s what my impression of them is:

McConville’s ‘Joshua’ provides an outline of the book, a discussion of the question of literary criticism, a look at Joshua as literature, the genre of Joshya: history and myth, the theology of Joshua, and Joshua in modern society.

Mills’ ‘Jeremiah’ talks readers through reading Jeremiah, historical criticism of the book, rhetorical critical issues, the rhetorical foci of Jeremiah, ‘bodies, space and excess’ as conceptual tools (and you’ll just have to read that chapter for yourself to enjoy it fully), and finally the theology of Jeremiah.

Already, then, it’s easy to see that the authors of these guides are not tied to any particular methodological procedure. This is certainly proven in Dell’s investigation of ‘Job’. She discusses the usual introductory matters, Job as wisdom text, Job as parody, Job in the context of the Ancient near eastern world, theological issues raised by Job, and reading Job in a ‘postmodern’ world.

Each author, set free to pursue matters of intrigue and interest particular to themselves and a slice of the reading public, engages each biblical text with vigor and adroitness.

Potential users of these books should not imagine them to be ‘study guides’ along the lines of Cliffs Notes. No indeed, these ‘study guides’ are instead quite thorough ‘introductions’ to particular biblical texts such as one would find in very thorough academic commentaries. Yet the writing is wide enough to be understood by interested layfolk. In other words, people who want to know what the biblical texts are about are invited in these volumes to a sort of open window on their meaning and significance. Reading these guides, and they genuinely are guides, is akin to being taken by the hand by a very experienced tour guide and shown things off the beaten path that other tourists never get the chance to experience.

I recommend them to students at college and graduate school level, interested lay readers, and most especially to Professors who will definitely want to use them as supplemental readings in Old Testament courses they are offering. I wish I had had ‘Jeremiah’ in hand when I taught that book a couple of years ago. When I offer Jeremiah again, it will certainly be required reading.

A Multi-part Interview With Matthew Bates on His New Book, Part One

Q– The tone of your book seems to imply that many have ‘gotten it wrong’ (i.e., salvation) up till now. Was that intentional, or is it merely a byproduct of your emphasis? Or, to put it more bluntly, the way it was put to Luther: do you think you are the only one to understand what salvation ‘is’ and everyone who came before erred?

AThe publication of Salvation by Allegiance Alone should be hailed as the second most important event in history, second by a narrow margin to Jesus’s death. I am fairly certain that nobody was actually saved until my book appeared to straighten this whole mess out. I allow that Jesus is still the Messiah, but I should at least get a prime-time talk show.

Joking aside, I think it may be unfair to suggest in such a sweeping fashion that my book implies that many have ‘gotten it wrong’ till now, for that flattens the kinds of ways the church can ‘get things wrong’.  Do I think the true church (in its full Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant expression) has always possessed the gospel in a saving fashion? Absolutely. So the church has never gotten it wrong in the ultimate sense.

Even when individual theologians, communities, and denominations have slightly (or even quite badly) misarticulated the gospel and/or salvation theory, I think the Holy Spirit was still operative in orchestrating salvation, so individuals could respond with saving allegiance through a tacit understanding of and response to the real gospel. It has been preserved and voiced every time the Scripture has been read down through the ages, and it has also been announced through liturgy and art. But this does not mean that there hasn’t been gospel confusion. A sufficient articulation is not the same as an exact articulation.

Yet, I can see why you might feel I am (overly?) bold, for I do make forceful claims about deformations within past and present soteriology. Salvation by Allegiance Alone develops four theses, the first two of which are relevant (and here I quote exactly from p. 9):

1. The true climax of the gospel—Jesus’s enthronement—has generally been deemphasized or omitted from the gospel.
2. Consequently, pistis has been misaimed and inappropriately nuanced with respect to the gospel. It is regarded as “trust” in Jesus’s righteousness alone or “faith” that Jesus’s death covers my sins rather than “allegiance” to Jesus as king.

Then I go on to assert:

“This inadequate identification of the climax of the gospel and faulty aiming of ‘faith’ is not a new problem. Nor is it a problem specific to certain Christian denominations or subgroups. It has been a norm across the full spectrum of the church for many hundreds of years. In fact, both Protestants and Catholics alike generally were invested in this slightly skewed scheme in the sixteenth century—indeed these problems extend at least in part all the way back to Saint Augustine in the fifth.” (Salvation by Allegiance Alone, p. 9).

So I do claim that my proposal might help correct historic and present missteps with regard to faith, works, and the gospel. I also assert that Saint Augustine injected a number of theological errors into the stream of Western soteriology, and that my book is making strides in the right direction. (On Augustine, see, e.g., Hart, “Traditio Deformis” [https://www.firstthings.com/article/2015/05/traditio-deformis]).

Yet, do I think my own thesis is a perfect articulation of salvation theory? Not a chance.

As I am able to build on many scholars and theologians who have labored to articulate salvation theory, I do hope it is nearer the truth than other expressions have been. I also think it is imperative that we re-cover and re-deploy the gospel in every era of church history, so serious attempts are necessary.

Q– The theological topic of ‘salvation’ seems to be making a bit of a comeback among theologians and layfolk. How do you see your book contributing to that discussion.

A- I think interest has been stirred by N. T. Wright’s popularization of elements of the New Perspective on Paul, his novel theory concerning “the righteousness of God,” and the debate this has caused, especially in Reformed circles. One thinks, for instance, of John Piper’s book, The Future of Justification, which has generate buzz among layfolk, and which deliberately responds to Wright’s proposals.

As I felt I had something to say to scholars, pastors, students, and general church-folk, I wrote for as broad an audience as possible. The numerous works of Wright (e.g. Jesus and the Victory of God; Paul and the Faithfulness of God; How God Became King), as well as books by Piper, Schreiner (Faith Alone), Barclay (Paul and the Gift), McKnight (The King Jesus Gospel), Teresa Morgan (Roman Faith and Christian Faith); Michael Gorman (Becoming the Gospel), Joshua Jipp (Christ is King); Michael Bird (The Saving Righteousness of God), and many others helped me refine my own proposal. In articulating my vision of justification, I found myself applauding and criticizing both Wright and Piper at times.

My book seeks to offer something new by reassessing the gospel and ‘faith’ simultaneously. If Jesus’s enthronement and kingly rule is not extrinsic to the gospel, but intrinsic to it, then this colors what it means to respond to the gospel in “faith”. It suggests that allegiance, including embodied obedience to Jesus the king, is essential to salvation.

Note: The other portions of the interview will be posted at the links below.  Those links will go ‘live’ when the interview segment is posted.

Adolf von Harnack und die deutsche Politik 1890–1930

Adolf von Harnack, a church historian and academic organizer in Berlin, was one of the most influential persons in liberal Protestantism in Germany. Christian Nottmeier examines the connection between Harnack’s outline for cultural theology and his political involvement after 1890.  “Overall, it is hard to imagine that this book could be bettered: it reveals a complex personality who sought to make religion relevant in a period of unprecedented change.” Mark D. Chapman in Ecclesiastical History, Volume 57, 2, 2006, p. 408–409.

This volume originally appeared as a doctoral dissertation at Humboldt University in Berlin in 2002 and was published in 2003.  This is a new second edition.  Various corrections have been made to the original text but for all intents and purposes, it is the same as its previous incarnation with the notable exception of an appendix which covers the relevant history of Harnack research in the intervening years and a discussion of Harnack’s abiding significance and contributions to scholarship.

The volume is comprised of seven major divisions:

  1. Von Livland Nach Leipzig
  2. Vom konfessionellen Lutheraner zum undogmatischen Dogmenhistoriker
  3. Liberaler Protestantismus, soziale Monarchie und die Anfänge gouvernementaler Gelehrtenpolitik
  4. Zwischen Kaiser und Kanzler
  5. Zwischen Kriegsgegeisterung und Reformbereitschaft
  6. Der konservative Republikaner
  7. Schlußbemerkung

Also included are the aforementioned appendix, a very extensive bibliography, an index of names and an index of subjects.

Adolf von Harnack is perhaps the most important historian of the 19th century and familiarity with his background and intellectual history are vitally important for both church historians and theologians.  Nonetheless he is widely unknown and unfamiliar, particularly to younger scholars and Barthians.

Indeed, it would be fair to say that thanks to Karl Barth (and his antipathy to what he termed the ‘liberal theology’ of his teachers, including von Harnack), very few moderns actually know very much about von Harnack at all, having dismissed him out of hand.  This volume corrects all that misunderstanding and, frankly propagandistic misinformation.  Here readers are exposed to the real von Harnack and to what it really was that drove him to the positions which he held.  Here we learn exactly how von Harnack became von Harnack.

In his time, at the height of his academic career, von Harnack was widely praised as the ‘greatest German scholar’ and at his death his obituary noted that ‘the Patriarch of German scientific research has died’.  This is certainly not an image which the Barthians and others who are unfamiliar with von Harnack’s massive body of work have encountered.  Here, by means of this volume, they can fill the hole in their intellect.

This book is excellent and I highly recommend it.  It educates.