Three New Volumes From Bloomsbury

Isaiah 6-12– in the long esteemed ICC series.

This eagerly anticipated volume is the second installment in H.G.M. Williamson’s International Critical Commentary on first Isaiah.  For over one hundred years International Critical Commentaries have had a special place among works on the Bible. They bring together all the relevant aids to exegesis – linguistic, textual, archaeological, historical, literary, and theological – to help the reader understand the meaning of the books of the Old and New Testaments. Williamson continues in this tradition, adding to his already published volume on Isaiah 1-5. Covering the next seven chapters of Isaiah Williamson incorporates a range of secondary scholarly material with examination of all the key textual and critical issues surrounding the text.

The Bible and the Qur’an

The Bible and the Qur’an provides an overview of all the figures and groups who are mentioned in both the Bible and the Qur’an. Principal focus centres on the similarities and differences between the presentations of these characters in the two texts, with special emphasis placed on how they appear in the Islamic text. References are also included to how many of the individuals/groups discussed are treated in other Islamic sources.  Each figure or group includes: (1) a list of relevant Qur’an passages; (2) a description of how the individual/group is presented in the Islamic Texts; (3) questions and issues to consider; (4) suggestions for further readings. An introductory section provides a basic orientation to the Qur’an and other Islamic sources.

Reading Christian Theology in the Protestant Tradition

Reading Christian Theology in the Protestant Tradition offers a distinctive approach to the value of classic works through the lens of Protestantism. While it is anachronistic to speak of Christian theology prior to the Reformation as “Protestant”, it is wholly appropriate to recognize how certain common Protestant concerns can be discerned in the earliest traditions of Christianity. The resonances between the ages became both informative and inspiring for Protestants who looked back to pre-reformation sources for confirmation, challenge, and insight.  Thus this book begins with the first Christian theologians, covering nearly 2000 years of theological writing from the Didache, Justin Martyr, and Origen to James Cone, José Míguez Bonino, and Sallie McFague. Five major periods of church history are represented in 12 key works, each carefully explained and interpreted by an expert in the field.

Bloomsbury have provided review copies of each.  Stay tuned, once I work through them I’ll report on them.

Shadowy Characters and Fragmentary Evidence: The Search for Early Christian Groups and Movements

This one looks interesting, doesn’t it-

The present volume contains the proceedings of an international colloquium that dealt with heavily fragmented texts and hypothetical sources, and the “shadowy” characters and movements they feature. These two aspects are combined and studied to ascertain how they have been handled in the history of research, to find out what they reveal about the community or the group expressing itself through (or hiding behind) them, and to establish the role these documents and figures or groups should be given in reconstructing an overall picture of developments in the theology and religious life of early Christianity. As can be imagined, such documents and sources have sometimes been taken as an open invitation to come up with all sorts of highly creative exegesis, adventurous reconstructions of texts and movements, and quite daring suggestions about identifying particular groups or presumed literary influences between documents. The essays contribute to the writing of a critical history of researching these types of documents and movements.

Go to the link for the contents.

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.

The volume contains a series of examinations of various English and German prayer books.  The purpose of the volume, then, is quite straightforward: to investigate the form and purpose of these kinds of texts in their 16th and 17th century contexts.  Along those lines, the author writes

… the study will mainly explore seventeen English texts from Anglican, early Puritan groups in addition to seven German texts from the Lutheran group for consulting or for reference.

In the course of the work, which is carefully written, we learn the following:

In the seventeenth century, German prayerbooks slightly changed their focus and methods of expression to better sustain their readers’ spiritual growth.

And

The first women’s writing for female readers can be found in Prayers or Meditations, a text published under the name of Queen Katherine Parr (1512– 1548) and was printed by Thomas Bertheletin in Londonon June 2, 1545.

This latter fact is one of many interesting snippets which bring to our awareness the fact that both women and children were not only engaged by prayerbooks but in the case of women, were instrumental in their composition.  The old notion that the Reformation was man’s work is debunked thoroughly not just here but in much recent Reformation scholarship.

Prayerbooks served another purpose besides enabling piety: they also served as doctrinal instruction:

In addition, since the Protestant reformers believed that wrong doctrines of prayer led to wrong exercises and directed people to wrong practices, their prayerbooks emphasized the importance of correct doctrine.

But according to the author, the most important aspect of the new prayerbooks was the fact that…

… early Protestant prayerbooks moved people’s prayer schedule from the traditional seven or eight times a day to a more flexible pattern.

In all, the book is seriously significant and provides really important insights into the practices of the earliest generations of Protestants and Reformed.

It does, however, have one minor issue which I wish had been noticed at some point in the editorial process: it lacks a native English speaker’s eye.  For instance, in several places where the definite article is needed, it is absent.  And grammatical oversights like this one are not overly common, but they do occur:

Although Luther and Calvin kept a slight different concept of private confession,
they did open up a way for self-examination to their followers.

A native speaker will notice right away that ‘slight’ should be ‘slightly’ and ‘kept’ is rather odd sounding and should probably be replaced with ‘held’.  Non-native readers will probably not find the sentence as it stands odd or unusual, but native speakers will.

This isn’t meant as an overt criticism; rather, it should be understood as a constructive comment- i.e., something to keep in mind in future volumes.

The volume’s table of contents and other front matter along with samples are available here.  For that reason, the TOC is not reduplicated here.  Interested readers of this review are encouraged to check there for the minute details of the work.

I enjoyed this book.  And I learned from it.  Accordingly, I’m quite comfortable with recommending it to you.

«Gottes kräftiger Anspruch» : Die Barmer Theologische Erklärung als reformierter Schlüsseltext

Die sechs Thesen der Barmer Theologischen Erklärung von 1934 gehören zum protestantischen Traditionsgut. Aber wie vital sind sie eigentlich? Die Autorinnen und Autoren dieses Bandes konzentrieren sich auf das reformierte Profil der Barmer Thesen. Was heisst es heute, dass Jesus Christus das eine Wort Gottes ist? Was, ihn als «Gottes kräftigen Anspruch» auf unser ganzes Leben zu bekennen? Warum fehlen die Juden in diesem Text und mit welchen Folgen? Welchen Beitrag leisten die Thesen zur politischen Ethik? Die weltweite Rezeption der Barmer Theologischen Erklärung kommt ebenso zur Sprache wie die brisante Frage, ob und mit welchem Anspruch heute noch bestimmte Glaubenspositionen verworfen werden können. Alle Aspekte kreisen um die zentrale Frage: Warum sollen wir heute «Barmen» noch lesen, diskutieren, bekennen?

TVZ sent a review copy.  More anon.

Philipp Melanchthon: Der Reformator zwischen Glauben und Wissen. Ein Handbuch

This newly published work arrived in August for review from DeGruyter:

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 16th century.

The publisher, first of all, has provided the TOC here.  Consequently, I won’t duplicate that material at this place.  Readers are encouraged to take a look before moving forward with this review.

A work as massive as this, containing all of the information which it does, is difficult to summarize in a short space.  Nonetheless, it’s worth the effort:  The volume at hand is a complete guide to Melanchthon’s life, work, theology, relationships, influences, and reception.  And the use of the word ‘complete’ is no exaggeration for effect.  Literally every aspect of Melanchthon-studies is included.  No stone is left unturned in the editor’s quest to give students of Melanchthon everything they need to know under one cover.

Naturally, not everything that can be said is said.  Instead, the volume is the perfect starting point for those wishing to examine, and understand, every aspect and corner and stone in studies of the greatest of the German Reformers (in truth, Philipp was even greater than Luther).

The philosophical section of the volume is outside my wheelhouse and I confess to being less interested in it than I was in other parts.  Indeed, the most engaging portions have to do, for me, with Melanchthon’s life and theology.  Secondly, I found the Reception of Melanchthon in other European lands to be particularly engaging precisely because how those outside Germany viewed him is such an interesting topic.  Thirdly, the section which discusses the various genres of Philipp’s works was also incredibly engaging.  The man was a true genius, interested in and contributing to so many fields of knowledge.

Indeed, the overarching ‘take-away’ from this important work is the fact that here Melanchthon is shown to be so much more than simply the sidekick of Martin Luther and the chap who helped him translate the New Testament because he was better at Greek than Luther was himself.  This tome is a wonderful instruction manual in Melanchthon-onia.

A few, a very few of the highlights of this collection of essays are (in order to provide potential readers with a sampling of the work):

Melanchthon hingegen gewann keinen sonderlich positiven Eindruck von Zwingli und bezweifelte, ob dieser überhaupt ein Christ sei (Scheible 1997a, 107). Sokames zu keinen weiteren direkten Begegnungen und Briefen zwischen den beiden Reformatoren mehr, doch herrschte in Zürich auch nach dem Zwinglis Tod im Jahr 1531 Melanchthon gegenüber eine freundliche Grundstimmung. Denn Melanchthon galt für Zwinglis Nachfolger als Vorsteher der Zürcher Kirche, Heinrich Bullinger, als große theologische und kirchenpolitische Autorität. Bekannt ist, dass der junge Student Bullinger, als er sich 1521/22 der Reformation zuwandte (Egli 1904, 6.14–15), stark von Melanchthons Loci communes beeindruckt gewesen war. Nach seiner Rückkehr in die Eidgenossenschaft hielt er zwischen 1523 und 1529 in Kappel Vorlesungen über Werke Melanchthons und verfasste einen – nicht erhaltenen – Kommentar zu zwei seiner Loci (Egli 1904, 8.11.13).

And

Melanchthon war persönlich anwesend auf den Reichstagen in Speyer 1529, Augsburg 1530 sowie Regensburg 1541. Von reichspolitischer Relevanz war außerdem seine Teilnahme anmehreren Reichsreligionsgesprächen, insbesondere den Verhandlungen zwischen Theologen und Kirchenpolitikern in Worms 1540/41 und Regensburg 1541, die zeitgleich mit dem Reichstag stattfanden. Zum Reichsreligionsgespräch in Regensburg im Jahr 1546 wurde Melanchthon nicht abgesandt; nach den Regensburger Erfahrungen fünf Jahre zuvor war er auch froh darüber, sich nicht an diesen Wortspaltereien beteiligen zu müssen (MBW 4140: „Sed illas conventuum σκιομαχίας non amo.“, MBW.T 15, 79,7– 8). Das letzte Reichsreligionsgespräch, an dem Melanchthon persönlich beteiligt war, fand 1557 in Worms statt.

And there are, as well, brilliant illustrations, including this one in the chapter discussing images of Melanchthon through the years-

melanch

Robert Boissard, Bildnis Philipp Melanchthon, aus: Jean Jacques Boissard, Icones quinquaginta virorum illustrium, Frankfurt a. M. 1597–99, Radierung/Kupferstich , 13,7 × 10,6 cm, Melanchthonhaus Bretten.

Melancthon was the most influential German of the 16th century.  It’s true, Luther is better known.  But once one learns what Melanchthon accomplished one swiftly discovers that Luther’s influence was narrowly framed (in theological and linguistic circles) whereas Melanchthon’s work touches every corner of academic inquiry.

This volume is as heartily recommended as I can manage.  do read it.

New Year’s Day Commentary Sale

From now through midnight Eastern Time on 1 January you can get the Commentary for $75.

The ‘Person in the Pew’ commentary series is the only series of Commentaries written by a single person on the entire Bible and aimed at layfolk in modern history.

the-person-the-pew-commentary-series

The books are in PDF format from yours truly for the just, again, $75.  Acquire them by clicking my PayPal Link.  It’s a good commentary.  Here’s what Athalya Brenner thinks of it-

Jim West is a man of very decided opinions. However, and this is much to his credit, in the Commentary I’ve read he does not advocate his opinions about Scripture. What he does is explain and simplify, working from the original language, without being simplistic. And this is to be commended. – Athalya Brenner

If You Don’t Return Books You Borrow, You Should Die… And Other Medieval Curses

All of which sound totally legit to me.

The use of these book curses seemingly sits at odds with the monastic lifestyle. Medieval monks dedicated their lives to imitating Christ, including his virtues of patience, forgiveness and love for mankind. The fact that monks used these curses testifies to the immense material and spiritual value that they attributed to their libraries: their books had not only been extremely costly and labour-intensive to produce, but often they also contained the only copies of a particular work to which their communities had access. The loss of a book did not only mean a material loss, but it could have permanently deprived a religious community of a work of knowledge that was essential for preserving or developing its religious identity. This may explain why some religious communities went to great lengths to protect their books. Book curses were a radical but effective way of preserving their book collections.

The Biblical Canon Lists from Early Christianity: Texts and Analysis

This book contributes to the discussion on the development of the biblical canon by presenting clearly the early Christian lists of canonical books. Scholarly and popular literature frequently mentions the views of early Christians on the biblical canon, and frequently the information is wrong or insufficiently nuanced. This book clearly presents the early canon lists, with notes to guide the interpretation of the lists, and will clear up some confusion on the state of the Bible in early Christianity. The lists certainly do not solve every problem about the development of the Bible, and close study of their contents will in some ways add to the complexities of the subject. But in the belief that scholarship advances most soundly by constant interaction with the ancient sources that it seeks to interpret, ready access to a collection of canon lists in the original language with translation and notes should serve as a boon to biblical scholars and patristic scholars alike.

We shall see…  More anon…

Emidio Campi in the News

Kirchenhistoriker Emidio Campi hat sich mit der AZ zum Gespräch getroffen. Er spricht über das ausklingende Reformationsjahr – und wie er per Zufall nach Baden kam.

Das Reformationsjahr ist bald vorbei. Emidio Campi hätte sich manchmal ein etwas tiefgründigeres Jubiläumsjahr gewünscht. Der Badener ist emeritierter Professor für Kirchengeschichte und war von 1998 bis 2009 Leiter des Instituts für Reformationsgeschichte an der Uni Zürich. Seitdem wirkt er als Gastprofessor an europäischen und amerikanischen Universitäten und zuletzt in Seoul.

Als wir ihn im «Himmel» in Baden zum Kaffee treffen, möchte er weniger über sich als vielmehr über sein jüngstes Werk sprechen: Das Handbuch «Die schweizerische Reformation», das er Ende November im Auftrag des Schweizerischen Evangelischen Kirchenbundes auf Deutsch mitherausgegeben hat. Es ist jetzt schon das Standardwerk zu diesem Thema. Auf Englisch ist das Buch schon 2016 erschienen, als Editio minor auch auf Koreanisch.

Read the rest.

Crossing Traditions: Essays on the Reformation and Intellectual History in Honour of Irena Backus

Irena Backus’ scholarship has been characterised by profound historical learning and philological acumen, extraordinary mastery of a wide range of languages, and broad-ranging interests. From the history of historiography to the story of Biblical exegesis and the reception of the Church Fathers, her research on the long sixteenth century stands as a point of reference for both historians of ideas and church historians alike. She also explored late medieval theology before turning her attention to the interplay of religion and philosophy in the seventeenth century, the focus of her late research. This volume assembles contributions from 35 international specialists that reflect the breadth of her interests and both illustrate and extend her path-breaking legacy as a scholar, teacher and colleague.

Brill have sent a review copy, which I’m eager to get into.  More anon.

Catholic Reform in the Age of Luther: Duke George of Saxony and the Church, 1488-1525

In his portrait of Duke George of Saxony (1471–1539) Christoph Volkmar offers a fresh perspective on the early Reformation in Germany. Long before the Council of Trent, this book traces the origins of Catholic Reform to the very neighborhood of Wittenberg. The Dresden duke, cousin of Frederick the Wise, was one of Luther’s most prominent opponents. Not only did he fight the Reformation, he also promoted ideas for renewal of the church. Based on thousands of archival records, many of them considered for the first time, Christoph Volkmar is mapping the church politics of a German prince who used the power of the territorial state to boost Catholic Reform, marking a third way apart from both Luther and Trent.

This book was orginally published in German as Reform statt Reformation. Die Kirchenpolitik Herzog Georgs von Sachsen, 1488-1525.

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.

The volume consists of

  • A. – Orientation
  • B. – Person
  • C. – Works
  • D. – Reception

The Orientation takes readers through a very extensive listing of Bultmann’s works and works about Bultmann.  Section B. introduces readers to the biography of Bultmann and then to those scholars and theologians who influenced him and with whom he interacted (including, but not limited to Rade, Gunkel, Barth, Heidegger, his Marburg colleagues and Fuchs.  This section also includes descriptions of Bultmann’s relation to the Jews, Politics, the Church, and Culture.  Section C. focuses on the works of Bultmann and is comprised of descriptions of the genres of his books and essays, the structures of his thought, and the chief themes he works with (including but not limited to Hellenism and Judaism, The New Testament, the Old Testament, eschatology, faith, ethics and hermeneutics.  Finally the volume concludes in section D. with the various debates provoked by Bultmann’s work (like demythologizing, Jesus research, Johannine research, and Pauline studies).

The work also includes a list of contributors and a general bibliography along with the usual indices.

The aim of the work is described by its editor in the opening pages: it’s goal is to deepen our understanding of Bultmann’s work, and more importantly, to provoke us to read Bultmann himself.  Each chapter is brief but utterly packed to the brim with important and useful information.  Each includes a bibliography and each is festooned with indicators of further information to be found in other parts of the volume.  So, for instance, if one is reading the subsection about Bultmann’s biography and is intrigued by details concerning his time at Marburg, parenthetical references direct readers to other places in the work where that information is expanded upon or described more fully.

This is an authentic handbook (in that typically understated German sense of actually describing an encyclopedia).  The learning on display is encyclopedic and this could easily be called a Bultmann encyclopedia.  And should.  Its one shortcoming is a lack of images and portraits of the great teacher in and amidst his environment.  The only photo graces the cover, and it is of Bultmann mid career.

The highlights of the volume are numerous.  The discussion of Bultmann’s connection to Luther is sublime, as are the discussions of Bultmann’s politics and his interactions with Judaism.  When it comes to Section C., III (Themes) the material is a primer in Bultmannian theology the likes of which have never been produced before.  If readers wish to know what Bultmann taught concerning Jesus, Michael Theobald’s treatment is perfection.  Similarly, Christof Landmesser’s treatment of Bultmann’s theology of Paul is so far superior to anything in the genre that it is worthy of special notice.

Andreas Lindemann’s discussion of the ‘Bultmann School’ in D. I. is superb, as is Francis Watson’s description of Bultmann’s reception in the English speaking world in D. VIII.

It’s no secret, at least to people who know me, that Bultmann has been and remains one of the most important theological influences in my own life.  Among the greatest-  Zwingli, Brunner, Luther, Calvin, Barth, von Rad, and Kierkegaard, Bultmann is among the top three.  It was Bultmann who convinced me, as a Grad Student, that Faith and Understanding were two sides of the same coin.  It was he who taught me the folly of attempting to read the Gospels as biography.  It was he who introduced me to the profundinty of Paul’s theology.  It was he who taught me to look at the Gospels through redaction-critical eyes.  Among New Testament scholars he is and will always be the most influential.

That’s why, primarily, I welcome this brilliant and useful volume, and recommend it to you so enthusiastically.  If you think you know Bultmann- his life, his works, his influence- then you will still learn much from this book.  If you don’t know much about Bultmann at all, this is the book to read.  And if you’re a serious New Testament scholar you already know that at some point or other you will have to interact with Bultmann’s scholarship- no matter which aspect of New Testament studies interests you.  Bultmann is the Himalaya over which every scholar must traverse in their intellectual and theological pilgrimage in order to be a real scholar.  This book will help you understand him far better than you ever have.

Paul as Pastor

Paul as Pastor demonstrates the critical nature of Paul’s pastoral care to his identity and activities. Despite the fact that Paul never identifies himself as a pastor, there is much within the Pauline letters that alludes to this as a possible aspect of Paul’s vocation and commitments, and this has been a topic of relative scholarly neglect. The contributors to this volume consider the household setting of Paul’s pastoral practice, the evidence of Acts and a survey of themes in each of the letters in the traditional Pauline corpus. Additionally, three chapters supply case studies of the Wirkungsgeschichte of Paul’s pastoral practice in the pastoral offices of the Anglican Communion in the denomination’s Ordinal, and in the lives and thought of Augustine of Hippo and George Whitfield. As such Paul as Pastor provides a stimulating resource on a neglected and critical dimension of Paul and his letters and an invaluable tool for those in pastoral ministry and those responsible for their training.

Bloomsbury have kindly supplied a review copy.  More in due course.

Kritiker und Exegeten: Porträtskizzen zu vier Jahrhunderten alttestamentlicher Wissenschaft

No one does this kind of work like Rudolf Smend.  He is, hands down, bar none, the BEST biographer of Old Testament theologians who has yet lived.  Truly, no one knows more about OT scholars than he does.

Die Hebräische Bibel der Juden, das Alte Testament der Christen ist seit dem Beinn der Neuzeit Gegenstand vielfältiger historisch-kritischer Bemühung gewesen, an der sich eine große Zahl bedeutender Gelehrter aus verschiedenen Nationen und Konfessionen beteiligt hat.

Das Buch von Rudolf Smend, Ergebnis jahrzehntelanger Forschung, führt 54 von ihnen vor, darunter J. Buxtorf, B. Spinoza, J. Astruc, R Lowth, J. D. Michaelis, J. G. Herder, E. W. Hengstenberg, A. Kuenen, J. Wellhausen, B. Duhm, R. Kittel, H. Gunkel, M. Buber, A. Alt, W. Vischer, G. v. Rad, M. Noth, I. L. Seeligmann, W. Zimmerli, H. W. Wolff.

Rudolf Smend ist der Meinung, dass jeder von ihnen zu seinem Teil, auf seine Weise und natürlich auch in seinen Grenzen das Ganze dieser Wissenschaft repräsentiert und dass sich von jedem noch heute etwas lernen lässt. Besonderer Wert wird darauf gelegt, sie auch mit ihren eigenen Worten zu charakterisieren. In der Begegnung mit ihnen begegnet man auch dem großen Gegenstand, dem sie alle gedient haben.

V&R have sent a review copy via their distributor here in North America, ISD.  More anon, after I read through the glorious behemoth.

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 is a great tool to correct that failure.  Hendrickson has sent each for review.

First, the volumes are really lovely aesthetically.  The binding is neither soft cover nor hardback but a kind of padded (if I can use that word) sort.  The books, as you grasp them, have a soft but firm feel to them.  Immediately upon opening them the user encounters not a plain white paper stuck to the boards but a lovely patterned print, unique to each volume.  The font used in each is clear and sharp and they all sport two cloth ribbon bookmarks sewn into the binding itself (in the style of the old Bibles which had those lovely ribbon bookmarks as standard equipment).

As to the contents themselves, they are an arrangement of daily readings intended to build vocabulary through usage (the way we actually learn words rather than simply repeating words from flash cards).  Each volume (Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek) are comprised of an English rendering of a verse (with key Hebrew, Aramaic or Greek words in parentheses) followed by a couple of vocabulary words (in descending order of usage in the Bible [so that vols 1 of the Hebrew and Greek works start with the 365 most used words and vols 2 of the Hebrew and Greek works start with the 366th most used word and continue in descending usage for the remaining 364 words]), which are defined.

This is followed by the Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek verse (depending of course on which volume the reader is using).  And finally, there is a phrase by phrase breakdown of the verse, with the original on the left and the English on the right.

At the very top of the page there is a ‘Day’ ‘week’ and ‘Date’ provided so if, for instance, one wishes to read the page for December 19, one locates that page and finds week 51 and day 353.  This arrangement allows users to follow the calendar or their own system of days or weeks.

The benefit of such a tool can’t be exaggerated.  It is simply ideal for the busy student who has already acquired a year or so of the Languages but who doesn’t have an hour each day to devote to translating.  It will enable such a student to keep up with what they’ve learned and expand upon it.  It is also ideal for the Pastor who took the Languages but who has let them ‘lapse’.  Reading will achieve regaining.

If the works have a weakness I haven’t been able to discover it yet.  They are just simply brilliant and so I can heartily commend them to students and Pastors.  That said, they should not become an end in themselves but must achieve their real goal- of provoking Pastors and students to further reading of the Biblical texts in their original languages.  This tool is a means to an end: reading the Bible in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek.

Used correctly, after a year or two of spending a couple of minutes a day in the Bible, users of these volumes should find a student or Pastor to give them to as a gift and take in hand the Bible itself.

Intercultural Theology

A bit outside my usual stomping grounds– but it looks really interesting:

Recent years have seen a paradigm shift in Christian self-understanding. In place of the eurocentric model of ‘Christendom’, a new understanding is emerging of Christianity as a world movement with considerable cultural variety. Concomitant with this changing self-perception, a new theological discipline begins to take shape which analyzes the inter- and transcultural character and performance of global Christianity: Intercultural Theology.

Judith Gruber discusses this nascent theological approach in two parts. She first gives a critical analysis of its historical development – in the first part of the book, two theological sub-disciplines of particular relevance are analysed: (1) missiology and its reflection on the encounter of Western Christianity with other cultures in the context of colonialism; (2) contextual theologies which focus on the particularity and dignity of the diverse cultural contexts of theological practice, but fail to sufficiently integrate the universal dimension of Christianity into their theological reflections.

Secondly, this study offers a constructive theological approach to intercultural theology. It does that by bringing systematic theology into conversation with cultural studies. This interdisciplinary approach adds significant complexity to existing reflections on Intercultural Theology: Re-reading the theological history of Christianity within the critical framework of cultural theories exposes a host of disparate and conflictive Christianities underneath its dominant master narrative, and, moreover, it no longer allows a recourse to essentialist concepts of Christian identity, with which previous approaches to Intercultural Theology have mitigated this unsettling cultural plurality of Christianity: After the ‘Cultural Turn’, which has made a metaphysical epistemology untenable, new ways for thinking the unity and universality of Christianity have to be paved. The book draws on Paul Ricoeur’s and Michel Foucault’s concept of the event and on Michel deCerteau’s proposal of a ‘Weak Christianity’ in order to develop such a post-metaphysical framework, which allows to conceive of the unity and universality of Christianity without concealing its cultural plurality and contingency.

Crossing Traditions: Essays on the Reformation and Intellectual History in Honour of Irena Backus

Edited by Maria-Cristina Pitassi and Daniela Solfaroli Camillocci (University of Geneva).  Irena Backus’ scholarship has been characterised by profound historical learning and philological acumen, extraordinary mastery of a wide range of languages, and broad-ranging interests. From the history of historiography to the story of Biblical exegesis and the reception of the Church Fathers, her research on the long sixteenth century stands as a point of reference for both historians of ideas and church historians alike. She also explored late medieval theology before turning her attention to the interplay of religion and philosophy in the seventeenth century, the focus of her late research. This volume assembles contributions from 35 international specialists that reflect the breadth of her interests and both illustrate and extend her path-breaking legacy as a scholar, teacher and colleague.