Category Archives: Books

Radicalism and Dissent in the World of Protestant Reform

From V&R.

The 500th anniversary of the onset of the Protestant Reformation is receiving global attention, both from the public and from academic researchers. However, the significance of the year 1517 has been an issue of scholarly debate for quite some time, and its importance as a caesura in European history has been questioned. The popular picture, in particular, of Martin Luther nailing his 95 theses to the Wittenberg church doors on 31 October 1517 and thereby unleashing both the Reformation movement and the modern era has been successfully challenged by research.

Our understanding of the Reformation has become more differentiated and complex, and this has been and will be documented in the context of the quincentenary in many events, publications and exhibitions around the world. The acknowledgement of plurality and dissent within early modern Protestantism is one key aspect of this differentiated picture of the Reformation. The symposium “The Protestant Reformation and its Radical Critique”, which was held at the German Historical Institute in London from September 15–17, 2016, concentrated on radical currents within the Reformation movement, most of which were inspired by a critical engagement with Luther and the other magisterial reformers. These radical groups and theologies are of particular interest because they link British, German, Dutch, French and North American experiences and historiographies.

The period on which the essays in this volume focus extends from the early Reformation of the 1520s to the Pietist movement of the late 17th and early 18th centuries. This broad chronological perspective will help to shift the anniversary discussions from their predominant focus on the sixteenth century. A public lecture given at the British Museum within the framework of this symposium positioned the various strands of early-modern religious radicalism within an even wider temporal framework and linked them to those of the 20th century. The symposium itself was structured thematically around issues such as group formation, religious radicalism in politics, gender and family relations, missionary activity, radicalism across borders, and radical history writing.

Radicalism is one of the unintended consequences of Luther’s reformatory efforts. Once the floodgates were opened, thanks to Luther’s own doctrine of the priesthood of all believers, all bets were off concerning what people would do with that freedom. Unsurprisingly, many misused it and others abused it.

In the present volume the contributors show the variety of ways in which the chief Reformers (Luther and Zwingli) had their work distorted and mistreated by various radical groups. As such, it is a wonderful historical examination and a delightful look at the nature of history as it sometimes surprises its inhabitants.

Who were these Radicals?

The radical reformers, as classified by George Williams in his encyclopaedic The Radical Reformation, were the Anabaptists, the Spiritualists and the Anti-Trinitarians (p. 8).

Or are they?

As John Coffey points out in his essay for this volume, producing taxonomies of radicalism, as Williams did, is analogous to ‘fixing butterflies on a wall rather than tracking their unpredictable movements through the air’ (p. 9).

The volume presently under review, then, strives to move us forward from the common understanding of the Radical Reformation by shedding new light on a number of particular historical events. We have, in short, at hand here a series of historical case studies.

Of particular significance, in this reviewer’s estimate, is the essay by Lehmann. He writes

No wall that Luther erected was high enough, however, to prevent some of the ideas that he had formulated and propagated from spreading. The centrality of the Scriptures for all Christians, for example, captured many people’s minds, in towns and in the countryside. For Luther, this notion was closely tied to his most effective form of defense against papal arguments. As a professor of biblical studies he was convinced that he knew, and understood, God’s words at least as well, and in fact much better than anyone else. Early on, in 1518 or 1519, when being attacked, he asked his opponents to base their arguments on scriptural evidence. No doubt this method worked very well to his advantage, for example at the hearings in Worms. In keeping with this, Luther demanded that future pastors should receive a solid university education in biblical studies. As a result, what he created, together with Melanchthon, was nothing less than a new clerical elite, a professional corps of theological experts trained to explain the true meaning of God’s word to the uneducated, thus eroding the foundation of his very own slogan of the priesthood of all believers. Within just a few years he dropped the idea that anyone could simply go ahead and read and understand the message of the Bible (p. 17).

I offer that extensive quote because it shows both the quality of Lehmann’s writing and the cogency of his argument. This is a stupendous collection and I confess to having learned much from each of the essays included herein.

Those interested in the contents and the front matter of the present work are encouraged to visit the PDF of those materials kindly provided by the publisher.  I genuinely enjoy historical studies of the Radical Reformation (perhaps because at heart I’m a bit of a Radical myself), and I enjoyed this volume more than I’ve enjoyed any movie or TV show I’ve seen this year.  This book is worth turning the TV off for (and I love TV) and setting Facebook aside for a few hours for and even ignoring Twitter for a time, and times, and half a time.

CHRISTIANITY IN EURAFRICA: A History of the Church in Europe and Africa

Nothing has bound Africa and Europe more together than the history of Christianity. From Paradise onwards, the Church has been the communion of believers. As the Body of Jesus Christ she started in Jerusalem. Through the proclamation of the Gospel the Church soon reached parts of Africa and the Atlantic Coast, from where – after the Middle Ages and particularly in the 19th and 20th centuries – she took deep root in Sub-Saharan Africa. Today, in post-modern times, African Christianity is being challenged to re-plant the Church in secularized Europe.  

This textbook for learners and teachers of the History of the Church focuses on the West and the South, on Europe and Africa, the continents whose histories have been increasingly intertwined since Antiquity. Since the 1960s, the classical dependence of the South on the North has changed dramatically. There is a clear shift in the centre of gravity of Christianity from the north to the south Atlantic, making African Christianity increasingly important. The future of European Christianity largely depends on a much-needed shift to mission-mindedness in the African churches.

I genuinely enjoyed Stephen’s earlier book on Christian Zionism so I was keen to read this, which he’s sent along for review.

In the volume at hand Paas traces the history of the Christian movement from its inception to the recent past.  In the introductory chapter he discusses the chief characteristics of Church history and its sources and rationale as well as its various branches.  The first major segment, ‘From Galilee to the Atlantic’ is a sweeping description of the historical setting of the early Church through the work of Augustine and the collapse of the Roman Empire and on to the rise of the Church in the West, the rise of Islam in the East, and the intersection of Church and State.

Then Paas turns his attention to the 16th century ‘Reformation Era’ and in the pages which follow the life and work of Luther, Zwingli, Bucer, Calvin, the Radical Reformers, and the Reformation in France, the Netherlands, England, and Scotland before he turns to the Counter Reformation.

Paas next describes the spread of Protestantism in Europe and North America and how Christianity proclaimed its variety of theologies through the 19th and 20th centuries.

The Second Part turns away from Europe and North America and instead focuses on the expansion of Christianity in Africa and the variety of missionary activities and theological expressions carried out and manifested on that continent from the beginning to the present.

This work truly is a sprawling and all encompassing survey of history and theological variety.  It is an impressive volume achieving in its pages what many longer and, frankly, more tedious works do not: the bestowal on the reader of a very thorough grasp of the history of the Church.

Paas’s expertise is on full display and his knowledge of the grand sweep of the history of the Church is astonishing.  There are, however, parts where he is dependent on the general consensus even when that consensus is incorrect.  So, for example, in his discussion of Zwingli, he writes

Zwingli officially turned to the Reformation after he had become priest in the cathedral of Zurich (p. 176).

This is, to be sure, the Lutheran perspective: the portrayal of Zwingli dependent on Luther in order to arrive at a proper Reformation viewpoint.  However Zwingli’s own testimony, and there’s no reason to doubt it, is that his own turn came as early as 1515 after the horrors of the Battle of Marignano.  By the time he reached Zurich in 1519 he had already become well acquainted with Paul’s theology and was slowly but surely, as was his custom, changing things where he was.

This caveat aside, the volume is a genuinely extraordinarily useful and informative work.  It is thoroughly illustrated with over 170 graphics and it is laced with useful bibliographies.  An index is also provided but in all frankness it is not necessary: the table of contents is one of the most thorough I’ve seen in any history of the Church.

I recommend this work for, especially, students of Church History who are early in their work; interested lay people; College and University Professors looking for a comprehensive textbook; and theologians concerned with the history of Dogma.

Tolle, Lege!  This is the most affordable, most comprehensive volume on the topic you’re likely to find anywhere.  And it is a pleasure to read.

 

When Texts are Canonized

How did canonization take place, and what difference does it make?

Essays in this collection probe the canonical process: Why were certain books, but not others, included in the canon? What criteria were used to select the books of the canon? Was canonization a divine fiat or human act? What was the nature of the authority of the laws and narratives of the Torah? How did prophecy come to be included in the canon? Others reflect on the consequences of canonization: What are the effects in elevating certain writings to the status of ‘Holy Scriptures’? What happens when a text is included in an official list? What theological and hermeneutical questions are at stake in the fact of the canon? Should the canon be unsealed or reopened to include other writings?

Edited by Timothy Lim.

»What is Human?« Theological Encounters with Anthropology

The present volume is the result of an interdisciplinary project within the Department of Theology at Aarhus University. The project was related to the research programme: “Christianity and Theology in Culture and Society: Formation – Reformation – Transformation”, running from 2012–2016 at the Institute of Culture and Society, Faculty of Arts, Aarhus University. The idea was to bring together scholars from all disciplines of Theology at Aarhus University in order to stimulate and coordinate disciplinary and interdisciplinary research cooperation. One substantial fruit of this endeavor can be found in the form of the present volume.

The front matter can be read here.  With thanks to V&R for the review copy.  Stay tuned for more.

The New ISD Religious and Biblical Studies Catalog

Here.

#ICYMI – An Overview of James Barr’s Collected Essays

The three volumes published by Oxford and edited by John Barton feature all of these:

VOLUME 1: INTERPRETATION AND HISTORY 

Foreword, John Barton
James Barr Remembered, Ernest Nicholson & John Barton
Introduction, John Barton

I: Biblical Interpretation and Biblical Theology 
1. Does Biblical Study still belong to Theology?
2. Biblical Scholarship and the Unity of the Church
3. Historical Reading and the Theological Interpretation of Scripture
4. The Bible as a Document of Believing Communities
5. Some Thoughts on Narrative, Myth and Incarnation
6. Reading the Bible as Literature
7. Divine Action and Hebrew Wisdom
8. Biblical Scholarship and the Theory of Truth
9. Literality
10. Exegesis as a Theological Discipline Reconsidered, and the Shadow of the Jesus of History
11. Biblical Criticism as Theological Enlightenment
12. Jowett and the Reading of the Bible ‘like any other book’
13. The Bible as a Political Document
14. Revelation through History in the Old Testament and in Modern Theology
15. Semantics and Biblical Theology
16. Story and History in Biblical Theology
17. Biblical Theology
18. Biblical Theology and Revelation in History
19. Trends and Prospects in Biblical Theology
20. The Theological Case against Biblical Theology
21. Some Problems in the Search for a Pan-Biblical Theology
22. Predictions and Surprises: A Response to Walter Brueggemann’s Review

II: Authority of Scripture 
23. Has the Bible any Authority?
24. Biblical Hermeneutics in Ecumenical Discussion
25. The Authority of Scripture: Dictionary Definition
26. Scriptural Proof
27. The Authority of Scripture: The Book of Genesis and the Origin of Evil in Jewish and Christian Tradition
28. Review of William J. Abraham, Divine Revelation and the Limits of Historical Criticism

III: Judaism 
29. Judaism: Its Continuity with the Bible

IV: Natural Theology 
30. Biblical Faith and Natural Theology
31. Mowinckel, the Old Testament, and the Question of Natural Theology
32. Biblical Law and the Question of Natural Theology
33. Greek Culture and the Question of Natural Theology
34. Ancient Biblical Laws and Modern Human Rights

V: Environing Religions 
35. Philo of Byblos and his ‘Phoenician History’
36. The Question of Religious Influence: The Case of Zoroastrianism, Judaism and Christianity
37. The Language of Religion
Index

VOLUME 2: BIBLICAL STUDIES 

Introduction, John Barton

I. Old Testament 
1. The Old Testament
2. The Old Testament and the new crisis of Biblical Authority
3. The Meaning of ‘Mythology’ in Relation to the Old Testament
4. Theophany and Anthropomorphism in the Old Testament
5. The Image of God in Genesis: Some Linguistic and Historical Considerations
6. The Image of God in the Book of Genesis: A Study in Terminology
7. The Symbolism of Names in the Old Testament
8. The Book of Job and its Modern Interpreters
9. Jewish Apocalyptic in Recent Scholarly Study
10. An Aspect of Salvation in the Old Testament
11. Review article of M. Brett, Biblical Criticism in Crisis?
12. Hebraic Psychology
13. Review of James L. Kugel, The Idea of Biblical Poetry
14. The Synchronic, the Diachronic, and the Historical: A Triangular Relationshipa
15. Some Semantic Notes on the Covenant
16. Was Everything that God Created really good?: A Question in the First Verse of the Bible
17. Reflections on the Covenant with Noah
18. A Puzzle in Deuteronomy
19. Mythical Monarch Unmasked? Mysterious Doings of Debir King of Eglon
20. Did Isaiah know about Hebrew ‘Root Meanings’?
21. Thou art the Cherub’: Ezekiel 28.14 and the Post-Ezekiel Understanding of Genesis 2-3

II. New Testament 
22. Which Language did Jesus speak? Some Remarks of a Semitist
23. Words for Love in Biblical Greek
24. Abba isn’t ‘Daddy’
25. The Hebrew/Aramaic Background of ‘Hypocrisy’ in the Gospels

III. Methods and Implications 
26. Allegory and Typology
27. The Literal, the Allegorical, and Modern Biblical Scholarship
28. Allegory and Historicism
29. Childs’ Introduction to the Old Testament as Scripture
30. Man and Nature: The Ecological Controversy and the Old Testament
31. Biblical Language and Exegesis: How far does Structuralism help us?

IV. Biblical Chronology 
32. Why the World was Created in 4004 BC: Archbishop Usser and Biblical Chronology
33. Biblical Chronology: Legend or Science?
34. Luther and Biblical Chronology
35. Review of W. Adler, Time Immemorial: Archaic History and its Sources in Christian Chronography from Julius Africanus to George Syncellus
36. Pre-scientific Chronology: The Bible and the Origin of the World

V. Fundamentalism 
37. Fundamentalism
38. Fundamentalism and Biblical Authority [Religious Fundamentalism]
39. The Fundamentalist Understanding of Scripture
40. The Problem of Fundamentalism Today
41. Fundamentalism’ and Evangelical Scholarship
42. The Dynamics of Fundamentalism
43. Foreword to Fundamentalism edited by Martyn Percy

VI. History of Scholarship 
44. John Duncan
45. H. H. Rowley
46. Godfrey Rolles Driver
47. George Bradford Caird
48. Remembrances of ‘Historical Criticism’: Speiser s Genesis Commentary and its History of Reception
49. Wilhelm Vischer and Allegory
50. Friedrich Delitzsch
51. Morris Jastrow
52. Foreword to In Search of Wisdom: Essays in Memory of John G. Gammie
Index

VOLUME 3: LINGUISTICS AND TRANSLATION 

Introduction, John Barton

1. Ancient Translations 
1. Vocalization and the Analysis of Hebrew among the Ancient Translators
2. Three Interrelated Factors in the Semantic Study of Ancient Hebrew
3. Guessing’ in the Septuagint
4. Doubts about Homeophony in the Septuagint
5. Did the Greek Pentateuch really serve as a Dictionary for the Translation of the Later Booksa
6. Seeing the Wood for the Trees? An Enigmatic Ancient Translation
7. erizw and ereidw in the Septuagint: A Note principally on Gen. xlix.6
8. Aramaic-Greek Notes on the Book of Enoch
9. The Meaning of epakouw and Cognates in the LXX
10. Review article of J. Reider, An Index to Aquila
11. Review of P. Walters (Katz), The Text of the Septuagint
12. Review article of Bruce H. Metzger (ed.), The Early Versions of the New Testament
13. Translators’ Handling of Verb Tense in Semantically Ambiguous Contexts
14. Cr)b – MOLIS; Prov. xi.31, 1 Peter iv.18

2. Modern Translations 
15. Biblical Translation and the Church
16. After Five Years: A Retrospect on Two Major Translations of the Bible
17. Modern English Bible Versions as a Problem for the Church

3. Hebrew and Semitic Languages 
18. Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek in the Hellenistic Age
19. Hebrew Linguistic Literature: From the 16th Century to the Present
20. The Nature of Linguistic Evidence in the Text of the Bible
21. Reading a Script without Vowels
22. Semitic Philology and the Interpretation of the Old Testament
23. The Ancient Semitic Languages: The Conflict between Philology and Linguistics
24. Common Sense and Biblical Language
25. Etymology and the Old Testament
26. Limitations of Etymology as a Lexicographical Instrument in Biblical Hebrew
27. A New Look at Kethibh-Qere
28. Determination and the Definite Article in Biblical Hebrew
29. St Jerome s Appreciation of Hebrew
30. St Jerome and the Sounds of Hebrew
31. Migrash in the Old Testament
32. Ugaritic and Hebrew sbm?
33. One Man or All Humanity? A Question in the Anthropology of Genesis 1
34. Some Notes on ben ‘between’ in classical Hebrew
35. Hebrew d( especially at Job i.18 and Neh. vii.3
36. Why?’ in biblical Hebrew?
37. Is Hebrew ‘nest’ a Metaphor?
38. Hebrew Orthography and the Book of Job
39. Three Interrelated Factors in the Semantic Study of Ancient Hebrew
40. Scope and Problems in the Semantics of Classical Hebrew
41. Hebrew Lexicography
42. Hebrew Lexicography: Informal Thoughts
43. Philology and Exegesis: Some general Remarks, with Illustrations from Job iii
44. Review of J. Yahuda, Hebrew is Greek
45. Review articles on Koehler-Baumgartner, Hebraisches und Aramaisches Lexikon zum Alten Testament, parts 1 and 2
46. Review article on E Ullendorff, Is Biblical Hebrew a Language?
47. Review of J. Blau, Grammar of Biblical Hebrew
Index

Have you ever seen a more comprehensive collection by a scholar more capable of such wide ranging interests and abilities?  The nice thing about all this is that you can start reading in the section which suits your interests.  So, naturally, I’ve started in Volume 2, Chapter VI.

I feel confident that I’ll have more to say about this as the weeks go by.

Christophe Chalamet Has a New Book Out

Une voie infiniment supérieure: Essai sur la foi, l’espérance et l’amour

Le professeur de théologie Christophe Chalamet propose un essai audacieux qui, en s’appuyant autant sur ses convictions intimes que sur d’innombrables ressources théologiques, cherche à réfléchir sur la foi, l’espérance et l’amour. Pour l’auteur en effet, cette « triade » doit se comprendre en tant qu’actes humains qui répondent à un agir antécédent qui les fonde ; en définitive, selon Christophe Chalamet, c’est la puissance de Dieu – avant tout le reste – qui permet à la foi, à l’espérance et à l’amour d’émerger chez l’être humain. Un passionnant parcours et une réflexion théologique inédite.

Luther’s Wife, Luther’s Life

Here’s a new volume that will interest folk:

Wenn Engel lachen: Die unverhoffte Liebesgeschichte der Katharina von Bora

Fabian Vogt

Weder die eigenwillige Katharina von Bora noch der ehrenwerte Professor Martin Luther hätten gedacht, dass aus ihnen mal ein Paar werden würde. Denn Katharina war unsterblich in einen Patriziersohn verliebt, während Luther ein Auge auf Katharinas Freundin Ava geworfen hatte. Beide wollten sie ein gutes Wort für den jeweils anderen einlegen.

Wie aus dieser Abmachung im Atelier von Lukas Cranach schließlich doch eines der berühmtesten Paare unserer Geschichte wird, erzählt Fabian Vogt höchst unterhaltsam und spannend. Und nimmt uns mit hinein in eine Liebe, in der sich die ganze Dynamik der Reformation widerspiegelt. Ein mitreißendes Lesevergnügen.

Dear Academics

Pile of BooksIf you agree to provide an essay for a collection of essays or a Festschrift please respect the deadlines which the editors establish.  Taking said deadlines halfheartedly is a tremendous problem for those who are putting volumes together and strains nerves, hearts, and minds.

Would you allow your students to take weeks or in some cases months past course assignment deadlines to turn work in?  I wouldn’t.  You wouldn’t either.

So why treat your colleagues that way?  If you don’t have the time, don’t agree to participate.  If you agree to participate, make the time.

Please.

[Written on behalf of all those poor benighted editors who are crushed to the point of asylum despair thanks to missed deadlines and mountainous excuses the post-doc equivalent of ‘the dog ate my assignment’].

Grazie.  Mille grazie!

Two New Volumes Worth Sharing

First, for the Melanchthon-ites out there (and who in their right mind isn’t?)

Written by a team of internationally renowned scholars, this newly conceived handbook provides a reliable introduction to the life, work, and impact of Philipp Melanchthon. It presents the latest research on Melanchthon’s role in Reformation history, but beyond this, reveals his importance in intellectual history as a universal scholar of the 16thcentury.

And second, for the Reformation History folk (and who in their right mind isn’t)

Luther heute

In diesem Buch werden die Hauptthemen reformatorischer Theologie beleuchtet, die für die evangelische Kirche grundlegend sind, eine starke Wirkungsgeschichte entfaltet haben und bis heute das kirchliche Handeln wie das gesellschaftliche Leben prägen. Dabei sollen die zentralen theologischen Anliegen Martin Luthers einerseits in ihren Grundzügen historisch sorgfältig dargestellt, andererseits in ihrer Bedeutung für Kirche und Gesellschaft heute deutlich gemacht werden. Die einzelnen Beiträge sind für den Vortrag in einer Ringvorlesung der Evangelisch-Theologischen Fakultät in Tübingen zum Reformationsjubiläum im WS 2016/17 konzipiert worden. Der Band bietet einen konzentrierten Überblick über die wichtigsten Themen reformatorischer Theologie und Lebensgestaltung aus der Sicht unterschiedlicher Disziplinen. Er ist gedacht für alle, die sich für die Relevanz der Reformation für Kirche und Gesellschaft heute interessieren.

Inhaltsübersicht
  • – Christoph Schwöbel: Sola Scriptura – Schriftprinzip und Schriftgebrauch
  • Friedrich Hermanni:Luthers Lehre vom unfreien Willen. Ein Plädoyer
  • Friederike Nüssel: Sola gratia – in einer gnadenlosen Wettbewerbsgesellschaft?
  • Walter Sparn: »Er heißt Jesus Christ, der Herr Zebaoth, und ist kein andrer Gott«. Solus Christus als Kanon reformatorischen Christentums
  • Eilert Herms:»Der Glaube ist ein schäftig, tätig Ding«. Luthers »Ethik«: sein Bild vom christlichen Leben
  • Ulrich Heckel: »Wasser tut’s freilich nicht« – Taufe und Glaube bei Luther
  • Volker Leppin: Priestertum aller Gläubigen. Amt und Ehrenamt in der lutherischen Kirche
  • Jürgen Kampmann: »Lasset alles ehrbar und ordentlich zugehen« (1 Kor 14,40): Anliegen und Maßstäbe reformatorischer kirchlicher Ordnung
  • Johannes Schilling: Luther, die Musik und der Gottesdienst
  • Reiner Preul: »Du sollst Evangelium predigen« / »nihil nisi Christus praedicandus« – Gesetz und Evangelium in der Predigt
  • Birgit Weyel: »(D)aß ein Mensch den anderen trösten soll«. Überlegungen zu einem Grundanliegen reformatorischer Seelsorge aus heutiger Sicht
  • Albrecht Geck: Der Protestantismus und (seine) Bilder
  • Friedrich Schweitzer: Die Reformation als Bildungsbewegung – nicht nur im schulischen Bereich. Ausgangspunkte, Wirkungsgeschichte, Zukunftsbedeutung
  • Wilfried Härle: »Niemand soll in eigener Sache Richter sein« – Luthers Sicht der Obrigkeit und der demokratische Rechtsstaat
  • Elisabeth Gräb-Schmidt: Gerechtigkeit und Freiheit in den Institutionen am Beispiel von Ehe und Familie
  • Bernd Jochen Hilberath: »Allein die Erfahrung«: Martin Luther – katholischer Theologe und Lehrer der Kirche
  • Thomas Kaufmann: Luthers Christus und die anderen Religionen und Konfessionen

The chief benefit of the present volume is the breadth and scope of the topics treated.  It provides readers nothing less than a ‘handbook on Luther’, giving the interested the most up to date scholarship on aspects of Luther’s thought as diverse as his view of marriage and his view of music.  It lacks any indices of any sort but that fact is understandable given the precise titles provided for the essays.  It also includes several (though not many) very nice illustrations in black and white.

The chief theological concerns of Luther are addressed herein.  Sola Scriptura, baptism, government, and all the rest are found with the incredibly interesting exception of any treatment on the topic of the Lord’s Supper.  Given the importance of that doctrine both in Luther’s day and in our own this is quite astonishing.  Indeed, it is shocking.  One is forced to wonder why this is the case yet one will seek in vain for an explanation in the Preface.

The essays here collected, however, serve quite well to explain concisely  what Luther thought and taught and, more importantly, how those views can lend themselves to interfaith dialogue in our time.  It is a commendable collection which I am happy to commend.

‘Eerdmans All Over’ This Week

Here.  Enjoy.

From Rome to Zurich

97463From Rome to Zurich, between Ignatius and Vermigli brings notable scholars from the fields of Reformation and Early Modern studies [together] …. Touching Protestant scholasticism, Reformation era life writing, Reformation polemics – both Protestant and Catholic – and with several on theology proper, inter alia, the essays collected here by a group of international scholars break new ground in Reformation history, thought, and theology, providing fresh insights into current scholarship in both Reformation and Catholic Reformation studies. The essays take in the broad scope of the 16th century, from Thomas More to Martin Bucer, and from Thomas Stapleton to Peter Martyr Vermigli.

Contributors include: Emidio Campi, Maryanne Cline Horowitz, A. Lynn Martin, Thomas McCoog, SJ, Joseph McLelland, Richard A. Muller, Eric Parker, Robert Scully, SJ, and Jason Zuidema.

The volume is comprised of the following:

Introduction: The Editors

  • Reminiscences:
    I. An Irish-American Jesuit in the Madison Mafia. A. Lynn Martin
    II. Joseph McLelland
  • Bio-Bibliography O’Donnelly

Essays

  • Mourning in Lonely Exile: the Irish Ministry of William Good, S.J. – Thomas M. McCoog, S.J.
  • Man of Conscience, Martyr, and Saint: Thomas More’s Life and Death in the Memory of the English Catholic Community – Robert Scully, S.J.
  • Thomas Stapleton: Loathes Calvin; will travel – Gary W. Jenkins
  • Sixteenth- and Early Seventeenth-Century Ideas of Imagination – Maryanne Cline Horowitz
  • Calvinist Thomism Revisited: William Ames (1576-1633) and the Divine Ideas – Richard A. Muller
  • ‘Saint Dionysius’: Martin Bucer’s Transformation of the Pseudo-Areopagite – Eric M. Parker
  • “Protestant Monasticism between the Reformation Critique and New Monasticism” – Jason Zuidema
  • Cognition and Action: Conversion and ‘virtue ethics’ in the Commonplaces of Peter Martyr Vermigli – Torrance Kirby
  • Was Peter Martyr a grandfather of the Heidelberg Catechism? A relecture of Questions 47 and 48 against the background of Peter Martyr’s Christological controversy with Johannes Brenz – Emidio Campi

Index

As is the case with every Festschrift, the essays here collected aim to honor aspects of the honoree’s academic contributions.  This one highlights the vast interests of its recipient which extend quite widely to include such topics as Vermigli and monasticism and Calvinism and anti-Calvinism and others besides.

And like all such collections there are good essays and excellent essays.   Three here stand out.  First, Gary Jenkins’ wonderfully written explanation of Stapleton’s hatred of Calvin and Calvinism is superbly entertaining.  Jason Zuidema’s investigation of Protestant monasticism is both eye opening and enlightening.  And Emidio Campi’s work on the Heidelberg Catechism and Brenz is, as is the case with all of Campi’s work, a demonstration of the apex of historical knowledge.

Time is too short to engage with every essay so I would like to spend the remainder of the review engaging Jenkins’ work on Stapleton.   Stapleton, like so many figures in the history of the Church, is, I confess, a person previously unknown to me.  Jenkins’ chief accomplishment in his essay is to bring to life and light a man who clearly despised the heretic Calvin and was unafraid to speak his mind about him and his teachings.

As Jenkins notes:

For Stapleton, a prime evil afflicting Calvin was the notion of certitude (p. 78).

Calvin, in short, annoyed Stapleton precisely because Calvin was so sure of his views and so certain of his correctness.  Jenkins also observes

While Stapleton spent enormous effort in defending both Catholic Eucharistic doctrine and the Catholic doctrine of the authority and jurisdiction of the Roman Pontiff and the Church herself, the question of justification held the primary place in Stapleton’s mind as explanatory of the errors of Protestantism (p. 77).

And quite interestingly

For Stapleton, Calvin had so twisted the truth of Christianity that it was impossible to believe that he even worshiped the Christian God. In short, Calvin was an atheist, for he had so wildly corrupted the moral order that it stood unrecognizable in Stapleton’s mind as anything Christian (p. 74).

What I find so intriguing here is the fact that Stapleton, and English Catholic, had many of the same attitudes towards Calvin that our own modern day Arminians (Weslyans) do.  It’s passing odd that Catholics like Stapleton and Arminians like Wesley could find common ground in their unhidden disdain for Calvin.

There really is nothing new under the sun.  Not even hatred of Calvin.

Jenkins entire essay is a case study in English Catholic contempt for Calvinism.  It is no accident, then, that the concluding lines nicely summarize the situation:

It probably did not help Calvin’s standing in his [i.e., Stapleton’s] eyes that so many of his fellow English looked to Calvin, though ironically, many, like bishop Jewel, looked to Zurich. This Zurich turn of course was not the case when he wrote “contra Guillelmum Whitakerum Anglo- Calvinistam.” It is no jump, therefore, to assert that Stapleton the Catholic apologist saw in Calvin the star guiding so many of those who effected both his vagabond life and the odyssey of the exile English Catholic community.

Calvin, for Stapleton, was the root cause of all his struggles.

This is a very useful collection and I commend it to you and recommend it for inclusion in your University or College library (the cost being rather prohibitive for personal libraries unless researchers are engaged in examining a rather slim and concentrated period of the history of the Church).

The Best Bio of Brunner Yet Written

Anhand der Quellen, vor allem von Briefen, Tagebüchern und nicht publizierten Manuskripten, gibt Frank Jehle Einblick in Leben, Werk und Wirken Emil Brunners. Das theologische Werk des Schweizer Theologen steht im Zentrum dieser umfassenden Biographie: Mit «Der Mittler» hatte Brunner die erste ausgebaute Christologie der dialektischen Theologie vorgelegt. Seine Auseinandersetzung mit Karl Barth über die natürliche Theologie ist in die Theologiegeschichte eingegangen. Vor allem aber ragt Brunner als Ethiker hervor: «Das Gebot und die Ordnungen» von 1932 ist ein Meilenstein in der Geschichte der Sozialethik. Bestimmend war auch sein Einfluss auf die Weltkirchenkonferenz in Oxford 1937. Brunner wirkte mehrfach als Gastprofessor in den USA, nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg wagte er den Schritt nach Asien, u.a. nach Japan. – Erstmals dargestellt wird Brunners intensive Beziehung zu Leonhard Ragaz.Die hier vorliegende Biographie ist zugleich ein wichtiger Beitrag zur Theologiegeschichte des 20. Jahrhunderts und zur Geschichte der Schweiz im und nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg.

Read it.  It is the perfect antidote for the Barthian misinformation about Brunner that too many gullible and silly people accept without question.

Johannes Mathesius (1504–1565) – Reception and Dissemination of the Wittenberg Reformation through Preaching and Exegesis

Johannes Mathesius (1504–1565), preacher and pastor in Joachims­thal, Bohemia, belongs to the reformers who were strongly influenced by Wittenberg. After all, he was personally acquainted with Luther and Melanchthon. His sermons, of which the sermons on Luther are best known, have been reprinted in numerous editions in the 19th century and have been instrumental in the dissemination of the Wittenberg theology. Many generations of pastors did find here homiletical models and a clear implementation of the Wittenberg theology in the everyday life of the congregation. Under his leadership the Bohemian mining centre Joachimsthal became a reformed model community. The present volume is a collection of lectures of two conferences in 2004 and 2014.

Two Out of Three: Emil Brunner’s Dogmatics Online

brunner83The first two volumes of Emil Brunner’s Christian Dogmatics are online-

Unfortunately volume three isn’t.  But maybe it will be soon.  Or you could just buy the print edition.  It’s very much worth it.

The Myth of Rebellious Angels: Studies in Second Temple Judaism and New Testament Texts

9780802873156This excellent book arrived about a month back and I’ve since read through it.  Here’s the publisher’s blurb:

The mythical story of fallen angels preserved in 1 Enoch and related literature was profoundly influential during the Second Temple period. In this volume renowned scholar Loren Stuckenbruck explores aspects of that influence and demonstrates how the myth was reused and adapted to address new religious and cultural contexts.

Stuckenbruck considers a variety of themes, including demonology, giants, exorcism, petitionary prayer, the birth and activity of Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the conversion of Gentiles, “apocalyptic” and the understanding of time, and more. He also offers a theological framework for the myth of fallen angels through which to reconsider several New Testament texts—the Synoptic Gospels, the Gospel of John, Acts, Paul’s letters, and the book of Revelation.

Stuckenbruck has long been one of my favorite experts on Second Temple Judaism because he is simultaneously informative and articulate.  The present volume is something of a summary of his thoughts on some of the most interesting aspects of Second Temple belief.  In 14 chapters he discusses everything from giants and Genesis 6 to the need for women to cover their heads for the benefit of the angels in 1 Corinthians to the Apocalypse of John and 1 Enoch.

The essays are arranged in canonical order.  That is,

  1. Origins of Evil in Jewish Apocalyptic Tradition.
  2. Giant Mythology and Demonology.
  3. The Lamech Narrative in the Genesis Apocryphon and 1 Enoch 106-107.
  4. Demonic Beings and the Dead Sea Scrolls.
  5. Early Enochic and Daniel Traditions in the Dead Sea Scrolls.
  6. The Book of Tobit and the Problem of ‘Magic’.
  7. To What Extent did Philo’s Treatment of Enoch and the Giants Presuppose Knowledge of Enochic and Other Sources Preserved in the Dead Sea Scrolls?
  8. Conflicting Stories: the Spirit origin of Jesus’ Birth.
  9. The Human Being and Demonic Invasion.
  10. The Need for Protection From the Evil One and John’s Gospel.
  11. The ‘Cleansing’ of the Gentiles.
  12. Posturing ‘Apocalyptic’ in Pauline Theology.
  13. Why Should Women Cover their Heads Because of the Angels?
  14. The Apocalypse of John, I Enoch,, and the Question of Influence.

Stuckenbruck also provides an extensive bibliography and indices of passages, authors, and subjects.

The value of this volume is revealed and properly manifested in its broad scope and comprehensiveness.  Curious notions are examined and demons abound.  The stickier passages are approached fearlessly and competently so that persons interested in the origin of the giants or the reason women had to cover their heads in Corinth are provided sensible and cogent explanations.

The majority of the chapters have been published elsewhere while one appears here for the first time.  The notes are copious and the documentation (i.e., evidence for Stuckenbruck’s interpretations) exceedingly thorough, as one would expect of a scholar of his caliber.

This is a book for the curious by a scholar who understands that curiosity because he shares it.  And he has the background, training, and skills along with a profound familiarity with the primary sources that allow his expositions to capture the imagination at the same time that they convince the reader of their correctness.

This is a glorious example of biblical scholarship and it proves that detailed investigations of the highest quality needn’t be dry, boring, dusty, uninspiring, or lilting.  I hope one day to know as much about something as Stuckenbruck seems to know about second Temple Judaism.  To that end, I’m off to follow up several leads Loren suggested concerning those pesky headcoverings in Corinth.

My recommendation to you, dear reader, is that you read this book: not only because it will inform you, but rather because it will actually inspire you to better, deeper, more engaged scholarship.

Barth’s Last Word to Brunner

brunner5“Barth’s letter arrived on the morning of 5 April. Vogelsanger cycled to the clinic at Zollikerberg, and informed Brunner that “Karl Barth sends his greetings!” He then read Brunner this letter by his bedside. Brunner smiled, pressed his hand, and shortly afterwards lapsed into an uncon­sciousness from which he never reawakened. He died at noon on Wednesday, 6 April 1966 at the Neumünsterspital at Zollikerberg, near Zurich. His funeral at the Fraumünster in Zurich on 12 April 1966 was led by Vogelsanger. ” – Alister McGrath

A Review of the DBG’s Facsimile Edition of Luther’s 1545 ‘Biblia Germanica’

Published in 2017 for the 500th Anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation, this facsimile edition is an exact replica of Luther’s 1545 German Bible.  And the 1545 German Bible is Luther’s best edition, far superior to the two volume 1534 edition and much better than any of the earlier incarnations of Luther’s version.

This edition is distributed in North America by Hendrickson Publishers, as are all of the German Bible Society’s volumes.

Luther’s translation of the Bible alone makes him a figure of importance and it is not at all difficult to muster the argument that of all the works of Luther, it is the most significant.  To be sure, his great books of 1520 stand as monuments to the beginning of the Reformation and will always be valued for that historical reason alone.  But of Luther’s lasting contributions to Christian theology, they pale in importance to Luther’s rendition of Scripture.

The present facsimile edition is unaltered from its original form with only one exception: the ‘afterword’ provided by the German publisher.  Everything else, from font to woodcuts to prefaces and forwards are all exactly as published in 1545, a year before Luther’s death.  Those seeking Luther’s most mature thought on Amos or Hosea need simply read the preface he provides to those books (and all the rest).  Luther’s Preface to the Old Testament is still one of the best ‘introductions’ to the Old Testament to this very day as is his Preface to the New Testament to New Testament studies.  Luther was at his best and brightest when working directly with Scripture.  Would that he had avoided some of his more controversial efforts and simply stuck with exegesis; what a legacy he would have left behind.

The volume presently under discussion also comes beneficially ensconced in a very sturdy box and comes bound in a lovely and sturdy beige cloth cover.  The paper used in this edition is substantial and the volume thereby avoids the easy creasing so common to bibles published with paper which bleeds through.

The price is not exorbitant for the quality or historical significance of the volume though doubtless many will wish it were less expensive than it is.  Nonetheless, you ‘get what you pay for’ and the quality and importance of this facsimile are well worth the cost.  If potential buyers are stymied by the price, I would advise that they sell their collection of NT Wright’s works or their Joel Osteen volumes for whatever they can get for them and buy this instead.  It’s far more deserving of a place on your shelves and you’ll get more out of if in terms of theological education than either of those modern authors could proffer in all of their books combined together.

What follows below are a series of photos I snapped to provide readers with visuals of this fantastic and highly important and wonderfully accessible Bible.

I could recommend this edition with more than glowing words but I think it speaks for itself.  Students of the Reformation; students of the Bible; and people who love fantastic books will want it.  Crave it.  Need it.  Get it.

An Introduction to the Study of Jeremiah

9780567665720C. L. Crouch provides a clear and concise introduction to the complex text of Jeremiah. Readers are introduced to the diverse approaches to the book, with attention paid to the way that these approaches differ from but also relate to one another. After a brief introduction, Crouch addresses the formation of the book, especially in relation to its Hebrew and Greek versions; the theological interests of the book and the challenges posed by attempts to link these to an actual man ‘Jeremiah’; and the relationship of Jeremiah to other biblical prophets. Crouch focuses clearly on method and on approaches to the text, as is the mark of this series. This makes the book especially useful for students in the quest to navigate the diverse body of scholarly literature that surrounds this troublesome biblical book.

This volume is part of a quite extensive series, the several volumes of which you can examine here.

Crouch begins her introduction to Jeremiah in the first two chapters of the present book in the way in which students of biblical studies will be most familiar: i.e., by addressing the historical questions.  First she places Jeremiah in its historical setting and then she addresses the question of the two recensions of Jeremiah which we have in its Masoretic and its Greek form, by summarizing the contents of the book.

At this point Crouch abandons the usual introductory questions and turns instead to a reception-historical discussion of Jeremiah as the book has been studied in the 20th century.  The fourth chapter naturally follows from this and is a very fine discussion of Historical Criticism and the methods which have sprung from it and been somewhat hostile to it.

Chapter five is the heart of the book.  In it, Crouch illustrates, by means of the exposition of selected passages, how it is precisely that recent approaches handle the text of Jeremiah.  She analyzes the call of Jeremiah, the laments of Jeremiah, God’s judgement on Judah, Jeremiah’s purchase of a field, and Jeremiah’s friend Baruch and his scroll.

Crouch brings her intro to an end in the usual post-postmodern fashion by expressing the open-endedness of her own conclusions, titling the chapter In(-)Conclusions; thereby opening the door and even inviting both challenge and further work.

Readers will benefit immensely from the two appendices (on versification in the Hebrew and Greek traditions and a list of ancient kings) and even more from the very detailed bibliographies presented.

This is a fine little volume and it fits perfectly in a series which describes itself as ‘approaches to biblical studies’.  Anyone, whether seasoned veteran scholar or graduate student working on Jeremiah or interested layperson, will profit from a reading of it.  I heartily recommend it.