Category Archives: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht

Martin Kählers biblische Theologie: Grundzüge seines theologischen Werkes

Die vorliegende Studie versteht sich im Anschluss an die ältere und jüngere Kählerforschung und greift die offene Frage nach einem Verständnis des Lehrganzen (Johannes Wirsching) der Theologie Martin Kählers auf. Hierfür lehnt sie sich an Gerhard Sauters Rede von der Dogmatik als einem lebendigen “Sprachkörper” an, deren eigentümlicher Charakter sich in einer “ständig wiederkehrende(n) Struktur von Wörtern und Objekten” (Zugänge zur Dogmatik) niederschlägt. Diesen Sprachkörper versucht die Studie durch die Analyse der späten Kreuzesschrift (1911) von Martin Kähler in einem ersten Arbeitsschritt zu erschließen. Das Resultat, nämlich die Grundbegriffe Bild, Wort, Geist und Geschichte werden dann im Folgenden gleichsam als Suchbegriffe auf repräsentative Schriften des sich über fünf Jahrzehnte erstreckenden Gesamtwerkes Kählers angewendet. Dabei wird u.a. deutlich, dass die wohl bekannteste Kählersche Schrift “Der sog. historische Jesus und der geschichtliche, biblische Christus” mit ihrem starken Bezug auf den Bild- und Geschichtsbegriff nicht nur ein Einzelstück des theologischen Denkens Martin Kählers darstellt, sondern inhaltlich eingebettet ist in das Gesamte seines theologischen Denkens. Vor dem Hintergrund der persönlich-biographischen Prägungen sowie der theologischen Prägungen verdichtet sich im Durchgang durch das theologische Werk Kählers das Bild von einer im Großen und Ganzen inhaltlich einheitlichen Theologie, die konsequent an Text und Sprache der Heiligen Schrift orientiert ist.

Creator and Creation according to Calvin on Genesis

In her work Rebekah Earnshaw provides an analysis of Creator and creation according to Calvin on Genesis. This offers a new theological reading of Calvin’s Genesis commentary and sermons, with an eye to systematic interests.

This analysis is presented in four chapters: The Creator, The Agent and Act of Creation, Creatures, and Providence. Calvin on Genesis gives unique insights into each of these. First, the Creator has priority in Calvin’s thought. The Creator is l’Eternal, who is infinitely distinct and abundantly for creatures in his virtues. Second, the agent of creation is triune and the act of creation is “from nothing” as well as in and with time. This is a purposeful beginning. Third, Calvin affirms creaturely goodness and order. The relation of humans and animals illustrates Calvin’s holistic view of creation as well as the impact of corruption and disorder. Providential sustenance and concursus are closely tied to the nature of creatures and the initial word. Fourth, fatherly governance for the church is presented separately and demonstrated by Calvin’s treatment of Abraham and Joseph.

Earlier presentations of Calvin on Creator and creation are incomplete, because of the lack of sustained attention to Calvin on Genesis. This analysis supplements works that concentrated on the Institutes and Calvin on Job, by bringing new material to bear. Further, throughout this analysis lies the implicit example of a biblical theologian, who pursues what is useful from scripture for the sake of piety in the church.

Insights from Calvin’s thought on Genesis provide a foundation for systematic work that reflects on this locus and the integrated practice of theology.

Rebekkah’s little book (just over 200 pages) aims to

… provide …  a theological analysis of Creator and creation according to Calvin on Genesis. This brings together three elements: a doctrinal locus, a man, and his exposition of a biblical book in commentary and sermon. Until now, this combination has not been thoroughly scrutinised. Therefore, the question at hand is what contribution do these texts make to our understanding of Calvin’s theology in this area and, hence, in what areas might contemporary theological research be furthered by heeding this new insight.

A simple enough thesis, right?  But filled with perilous paths and dangerous potential pitfalls.  For instance, which of Calvin’s materials to examine?  In what languages?  How extensively?  With what focus?  All of these dangers are seen in advance:

This investigation is prompted and shaped by four factors of increasing specificity: theological interest in Creation, the inclusion of exegesis of Genesis in previous theological work on Creation, publication and translation of Calvin’s Genesis sermons, and limited attention to Genesis in earlier treatments of Calvin on Creation. Each of these makes the present question significant and can be considered in turn.

As part of her survey of the material, E. remarks

This sweeping survey of treatments of Calvin on Creation cannot do justice to their scholarship. However, the purpose here is more modestly to identify that within these earlier works there has been some reference to Calvin’s treatment of Genesis, but there has been no study of its contribution as a whole in this area. The brief comments from the end of Book One of the Institutes remain the authoritative account despite more recent broadening of the horizons within Calvin studies to focus on other texts or diachronic analysis.

This volume remedies that.  Quite nicely and thoroughly.  As she notes later on

Throughout his work on Genesis Calvin promotes faith in the Creator that issues in piety; that is, his exegesis develops doctrine with pastoral outworking. This is not accidental, as Calvin happens to be a theologian who enters a pulpit. Rather, Calvin continually concerns himself with the use of Creation in accordance with scripture in the life of God’s church. His conclusion to his first Genesis sermon is typical in this regard.

That, then, is what we need to remember about these words of Moses, and we must, in short, apply ourselves to this endeavour and become acquainted with God our Creator in such a way that we pay him homage with our lives, acknowledging him also as our Redeemer and confessing that we are doubly obligated to him, so that we may dedicate ourselves completely to his service in all holiness, righteousness, and integrity.

Calvin may be outdated in terms of his scientific understanding of the ‘how’ of creation.  But he remains incredibly relevant when it comes to the theological ‘why’ of creation.  And this book, well written and well executed, helps we 21st century folk hear that ‘why’ with a certain clarity and forcefulness.

Petrus van Mastricht (1630-1706): Text, Context, and Interpretation

Petrus van Mastricht (1630–1706): Text, Context, and Interpretation »is not just a statement of the state of the art on Mastricht studies. It also points the way forward for further exploration of Mastricht’s thought and the history of Reformed Orthodoxy in general« from the Preface by Carl R. Trueman.

This volume presents collected essays from scholars around the world on various aspects of Petrus van Mastricht (1630-1706) theology, philosophy, and reception in the context of the challenges of orthodoxy in his day. This book, then, locates Mastricht’s ideas in the context of the theological and philosophical currents of his day. The pre-Revolutionary status of theology and philosophy in the wake of the Enlightenment had many of the same problems we see in theology today as relating to the use and appropriation of classical theology in a 21st-century context. Ideas about the necessity of classical primary sources of Christianity in sustaining Reformed theology are once again becoming important, and Mastricht has many insights in this area. The last thirty years have witnessed a remarkable revolution in the study of Reformed Orthodoxy, that broad movement of theological consolidation which took place in the two centuries between the early breakthroughs of the Reformation and the reorganization of intellectual disciplines within the university world heralded by the arrival of the various intellectual and cultural developments known collectively as the Enlightenment. The old models which tended to prioritize one or two figures in the Reformation. In place of this older scholarship, we now have a growing number of studies which seek to place Reformed thinkers of the period in a much wider context. One of the results of this is that serious scholarly attention is now being directed at figures who were previously neglected, such as Petrus van Mastricht, a German-Dutch theologian, who has emerged as significant voices in shaping the Christianity of his day. He was the author of a major system of divinity. This work is in the process of being translated into English (two volumes are available at the time of writing). Mastricht is also the subject of a growing body of literature in English, of which this volume is a fine example. The essays contained in book work represent precisely the range of scholarly interests that the new approach to Reformed Orthodoxy has come to embody. Dealing specifically with the areas of theology, philosophy, and reception, this book points toward three critical areas of study.

The obvious benefit of this volume is that if presents readers a basic overview of the works of a once famous and now all but forgotten theologian.  Van Mastricht isn’t the usual topic of conversation at AAR and certainly not at SBL.  He doesn’t generate the interest of Barth or Calvin or Zwingli or Luther or even Brunner.  He wasn’t ‘flashy’ or ‘stupendous’ and he clearly did not leave such a legacy that children are named after him.

But in his day he was so very important.  And even today he deserves an audience.  And this book may serve a purpose if it causes people to think about the contributions of van Mastricht to Reformed theology.

To kick things off, Trueman offers as good an apologia for van Mastricht research as anyone could.  This is followed by Neele’s Preface which contains a short summary of the volume’s contents.

The body of the volume itself is comprised of a section on Theology, one on Philosophy, and one on Reception.  Important appendices provide readers with a chronology of his life and work, a bibliography of his publications, and a fairly extensive (if the fairly small body of secondary literature on an undeservedly obscure theologian can be called ‘extensive’) list of secondary materials.

The Theology section is the most interesting to me.  It provides essays on van Mastricht’s understanding of the twofold kingdom of Christ, the external and internal call, Christology of the Old Testament, and practical theology.  The Philosophy section and its three essays will appeal to those with a philosophical bent.  And the Reception section will appeal to those whose interests are more centered in historical theology.

The contributors are a relatively diverse group, including several Europeans, several Asians, and many Americans.  One is an entrepreneur, several are Professors, and one is a PhD student.  Their wide range of backgrounds means that this volume engages a range of perspectives.

In terms of the contents of the volume in relationship to scholarship and scholarly insight, it is very good indeed.  One essay was relatively weak but the remainder were really very well executed.

Petrus van Mastricht was a really very interesting person.  He could be a bit dry and a tad boring at times but that’s true of everyone who writes and especially is it true of theological works.  And that’s fine.  I much prefer someone who is a bit dull and yet remains relevant to someone who peppers their works with pop culture references that are outdated within a year or two of publication.  While trying to be witty and contemporary what they actually achieve is planned obsolescence.   Their jokes and puns and asides where reference is made to Spiderman or Captain Kirk may generate buzz, at the end of the day that’s all that’s generated.  They are all form and no substance.

And that’s an accusation that can never be made against those theologians whose works stand the test of time.  They are substance first and care nothing for the act of putting makeup on a pig.  They exalt substance over form, unlike the soon irrelevant form over substance crowd.

Petrus van Mastricht is all substance.  Whatever one thinks of his form.  And this little book is an ideal entry into his thought-world.  Give it a read.  You won’t regret it.  And there isn’t a pop-culture reference in the whole thing.  Thanks be to God.

Learn About Calvin

With this.

Der Römerbrief

Dieser Kommentar bietet eine allgemeinverständliche Auslegung des Römerbriefs. Er berücksichtigt die neuesten Ergebnisse der Bibelwissenschaft, konzentriert sich aber darauf, den Leserinnen und Lesern die Botschaft dieses Briefs aufzuschließen. Dabei werden auch schwierige Details erklärt und der Zusammenhang mit grundlegenden alttestamentlichen Aussagen und der Botschaft anderer neutestamentlicher Schriften berücksichtigt. Ziel aber ist es, den Brief als Ganzes von seiner Prägung durch die Rechtfertigungsbotschaft des Paulus her zu erklären. Dieser Kommentar ist der erste der neuen Reihe “Die Botschaft des Neuen Testaments”.

Für die Auslegung aller Bände ist maßgebend: 1. Obwohl der Stand der wissenschaftlichen Auslegung voll verarbeitet wird, soll der Text des Kommentars wirklich allgemeinverständlich sein. 2. Die historischen Fragen zur Entstehung der jeweiligen Schrift werden berücksichtigt, im Mittelpunkt der Auslegung steht aber die Erfassung der Botschaft des Textes. 3. Deshalb werden in der jeweiligen Einleitung nur die notwendigsten Hinweise für das Verständnis des Textes gegeben. Die entscheidenden historischen und theologischen Fragen werden am Text mit den Lesern und Leserinnen erarbeitet. Ein Schlussteil fasst dann die Ergebnisse zusammen. 4. Die eigens für den Kommentar erarbeitete Übersetzung bietet einen ersten Einstieg in die Auslegung.

Die Folgebände – als nächster Band folgt: Das Markusevangelium – werden mehrheitlich von Walter Klaiber verfasst, ergänzt allerdings durch Kommentare weiterer namhafter Theologen. Bei Subskription der Kommentarreihe “Die Botschaft des Neuen Testaments” vermindert sich der Verkaufspreis um ca. 15 %.

This is the last of the 4 volumes I received to review.  Of the four, this is the largest.  As with the others, each pericope is translated, exegeted, and contains additional historical material in the form of ‘grey boxes’.  An exceptionally important few pages where the key theological themes of Romans are discussed, a brief bibliography and list of abbreviations followed by a subject index round out the volume.

‘Of the making of books there is no end’ is certainly true.  So each book or series of books needs to contribute something to the larger corpus of its subject matter.  That something can be a new observation, or a new summary, or a new approach.  Or it can be an aspect of the topic overlooked or too complex in other volumes.  Or it can be written with a new audience in mind.  I.e., instead of being for academics, it can be for lay-folk.

Of all the books of the New Testament that have been subjected to treatment the Book of Romans ranks up there among the most frequently addressed.  So doing something unique seems virtually impossible.  ‘There’s nothing new under the sun’ applies especially to books about the Bible.  And yet people keep trying.

Which is why Klaiber’s volume is so important.  He makes genuinely fresh and stimulating observations about familiar texts.  His examination, for example, of Romans 1, is both intelligible and engaging.  His treatment of the ‘homosexuality’ issue from that passage is one of the best I have ever seen.  He doesn’t fall into the trap of being ‘too clever by half’ which bedevils so many who examine the text.  Their attempts to read out of the text what they have only read into the text betrays them as eisegetes.  And Klaiber is no eisegete.

This is demonstrated in the clearest way in Klaiber’s exposition of Romans 9-11, which he titles “Gottes Ja zu Israel ist unwiderruflich”.  And with equal sensibility Klaiber shows how Romans 12-15:13 is the ethical outworking of God’s encounter with Gentile and Jew.  And finally, in his exposition of Ch 16, he spends sufficient time with the issue of the diaconate of Phoebe such that readers cannot be mistaken concerning his view of the ordination of women.

In terms of the larger project, this piece fits brilliantly within it.  Of the volumes I have looked at, I have discovered no egregious theological or exegetical errors.  The author’s are not the focus of attention (as happens in Barth’s ‘Romans’ where the reader comes away with a very good understanding of Barth and very little understanding of Romans, and as happens in so many commentaries today where the author is the voice heard and not the voice of the text).

It is not wrong to recommend this series.  Nor is it wrong to recommend the present volume.  Rather, it would be wrong not to.

Der erste und zweite Thessalonicherbrief

The next volume in the series- Der erste und zweite Thessalonicherbrief – is reviewed below.

Die Kommentarreihe “Die Botschaft des Neuen Testaments” richtet sich sowohl an Theologen als auch an theologisch interessierte Laien. Die einzelnen Bände bieten eine fundierte Auslegung der Schriften des Neuen Testaments – nah am Text, um die Logik der Aussagen der Autoren zu verfolgen und deren Botschaft nachvollziehen zu können. Zentrale Begrifflichkeiten werden vor ihrem biblischen und zeitgenössischen Hintergrund erläutert, wichtige Beobachtungen am Urtext auch für diejenigen erschlossen, die kein Griechisch können. Allgemeinverständlich formuliert, ohne dabei das Niveau der Reflexion zu beeinträchtigen, richtet sich diese Kommentarreihe an alle, die die Bibel besser verstehen wollen. Dieser Kommentar fragt nicht nur nach den Unterschieden zwischen den Thessalonicherbriefen, sondern auch nach ihrer Einheit, wie sie sich vom 2. Thessalonicherbrief her ergeben soll. Im 1. Brief, mit dem die Missionare Paulus, Silvanus und Timotheus ihre unverzichtbare Stellung in der Gemeinde von Thessalonich untermauern, begegnet uns eine Spielart urchristlicher Theologie. Dem gegenüber möchte der 2. Thessalonicherbrief eine bestimmte eschatologische Deutung des 1. Briefes “korrigieren”, indem er ihn in einen neuen literarischen Kontext stellt, sodass sich einige seiner Bedeutungsspielräume verschieben. Der Kommentar nimmt damit die potenzielle Mehrdeutigkeit von (biblischen) Texten ernst.

One of the most interesting aspects of the series in which this volume appears is that it is so similar, in many ways, to Schlatter’s earlier work.  But whereas Schlatter’s New Testament Commentary was written by a single person, this series is the work of a number of really remarkably talented scholars.

Interesting too is the appearance of the series:

A white upper quadrant and a green lower in both series seems too coincidental to be a coincidence.  Are the editors of the present series paying homage to Schlatter’s work?  The fact that both are aimed at making Scripture plainly comprehensible also does not seem to be merely coincidental.  Could the present series be, subtly, a replacement for the earlier work of Schlatter?  Perhaps.  In any event the newer work is very much in the same line as Schlatter in that excellent scholarship is made available to intelligent Christians in the clearest of ways.

Hanna’s volume, like the earlier we’ve seen from the series, gives readers the text in pericope chunks and commentary on those chunks.  It provides internal notes (in smaller font) and differently shaded text boxes which give further historical data and which can be skipped by those wishing to follow the exegesis without interruption. Each letter’s treatment (exegesis) is followed by a summary of the message of each and the entire volume ends with the shortest of bibliographies, a list of abbreviations, and a brief index of subjects.

1 Thessalonians is understood to be an authentic Pauline epistle whereas, according to Roose, 2 Thessalonians is a pseudepigraph.   Her reasons for doing so are clearly spelled out and they are not unreasonable.  Indeed, they follow the usual lines of critical scholarship in their understanding of the issues.

The exposition of 2 Thessalonians 3:10, the famous ‘If they will not work, let them not eat’, is superbly handled.  Setting the proper context, Roose shows that the sentiment is neither unique to the author nor is it, as is usually understood, an encouragement to ‘anti-laziness’ (my term, not hers).  She includes a useful Wirkungsgeschichte of the passage as well, showing its history within Christianity.  It is truly a genius example exegesis.

This is a genuinely helpful and useful volume.  It should find a place on your shelves, and you should make use of it the next time you study the Thessalonian correspondence.

Der erste, zweite und dritte Johannesbrief

Die meisten Kommentare und Untersuchungen zu den Johannesbriefen sehen sie in der Auseinandersetzung mit einer gnostischen Strömung. Demgegenüber – so wird gesagt – versuche der Autor, seine Adressatengemeinden zur Rechtgläubigkeit zu rufen, während die Gegner als Verführer und Antichristen bezeichnet werden. Der vorliegende Kommentar macht aber deutlich, dass es in den Johannesbriefen nicht um die Frage der Recht- oder Falschgläubigkeit geht. Dem Verfasser geht es um das eine Bekenntnis zu Jesus Christus, dessen Bejahung einen Christen von einem Nichtchristen unterscheidet. Die Gemeinden, die er am Ende des ersten Jahrhunderts im Blick hat, werden von staatlicher Seite massiv gefährdet und unter Druck genommen.

Daraus resultiert eine Abwanderungsbewegung, der sich der Verfasser speziell des ersten Johannesbriefs entgegenstellt. Glaube ist deshalb für ihn nicht eine Satzwahrheit, sondern Ausdruck der ausschließlichen Bindung der eigenen Existenz an Jesus Christus. Das Bekenntnis zu Jesus vermittelt zugleich die Zugehörigkeit zur Bekenntnisgemeinschaft der »Kinder Gottes«. Nur denjenigen, die an diesem Bekenntnis trotz hoher Gefährdung festhalten und gegenüber der christlichen Gemeinde gegenüber solidarisch bleiben (»Bruderliebe« üben), ist das ewige Leben zugesagt. Das Bekenntnis zu Jesus Christus zielt also sowohl auf die Vergewisserung der eigenen Heilsorientierung – der gegenwärtigen Gefährdung zum Trotz – als auch auf die Abgrenzung nach außen. Eine innerchristliche Differenz ist im ersten Johannesbrief nicht im Blick.

As is true of the other volumes in this series, the introductory material is quite brief, covering only those issues deemed most important for understanding the text at hand.  Each pericope is offered in translation, examined exegetically word by word or phrase by phrase, and adorned with various side-bars and smaller fonted historical information.

Then following the exposition is further discussion of the message of the scripture.

Rusam’s exegesis is engaging and stimulating, as he clearly explains quite patiently and thoroughly the meaning and significance of the passages piece by piece.  He notes, to begin with, that 1 John is one of the most influential NT texts containing, as it does, one of the central truths of the Christian faith: God is love, and those who love know God while those who do not love their brother, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not.

Rusam further asserts that 1 John is the most read NT book.  He may well be right.  I suspect he is.

Excurses include one on gnosis, one on the death of Jesus in the Gospel of John, and one on the opponents of the author.  Among many others.  Rusam’s examination of 2 and 3 John follow the same pattern of introduction, exposition, and key theological themes found in the book.  There is a bibliography, a list of abbreviations, and a very short subject index.

Much larger volumes accomplish far less.  This book, and the series in which it appears, are the best thing to have happened to German New Testament commentary series’ in years.  Indeed, this series is the finest of them all to see the light of day since Schlatter’s.

If you are looking for works that will actually help you understand the message of the New Testament, this is what you’ve been looking for.


Die neutestamentliche Forschung hat sich in den letzten Jahren eingehend mit dem letzten Buch der Bibel befasst. Von den Ergebnissen ist freilich wenig in der kirchlichen Verkündigung und bei normalen Bibellesern und -leserinnen angekommen. Dieser Kommentar möchte deshalb in allgemeinverständlicher Sprache den Ertrag der wissenschaftlichen Auslegung der Offenbarung einer breiten Leserschaft vermitteln. Er fragt aber darüber hinaus auch nach ihrer Botschaft für uns heute. Die Situation der Empfängergemeinden wird erklärt und die zeitgeschichtlichen Hintergründe werden hervorgehoben. Vor allem aber werden die Perspektiven herausgearbeitet, die über die zeitbedingten Aussagen hinausführen. Die alttestamentlichen Quellen der Visionen werden aufgezeigt und zur Entschlüsselung ihrer Symbolik genutzt. Auch die genaue Analyse des Aufbaus der Schrift wird zu einer wichtigen Lesehilfe. Die Spannungen innerhalb der Botschaft des Buchs werden klar benannt: Rigoristische Anforderungen an die Treue der Gemeinde neben bedingungsloser Einladung zu Gott, Theologie des Kreuzes neben blutigen Gewaltfantasien, Betonung der gnädigen Erwählung und die Bedeutung der Werke für das Urteil Christi. Doch es sind diese scheinbaren Widersprüche, die der Botschaft ihr besonderes Profil und Tiefenschärfe geben. Die Ermutigung zu einem Verhalten, das sich nicht von der Vergötterung menschlicher Macht verführen lässt, und zur Hoffnung auf den Sieg der gerechten und gnädigen Herrschaft Gottes hat bleibende Bedeutung auch für die Kirche heute.

Following a brief introduction and outline of the book of Revelation, the author launches immediately into his treatment of the text.

First, he provides a translation of each pericope to be discussed.  For instance, he subdivides chapter one into several expositional units.  Vv. 1-3 are discussed as a unit, followed by discussions of vv. 4-8, and vv. 9-20.  There are discussions of important exegetical points in blocked units marked by darker boxes and other issues discussed in smaller font paragraphs and these two special features are in addition to the main exegetical discussion which follows a verse by verse, phrase by phrase, or word by word arrangement.

Klaiber’s analysis of the Letters to the Seven Churches features a very helpful and exceptionally informative table where the letters are described side by side in terms of speaker, message, and addressees.

At the conclusion of the commentary proper, which runs from pages 17-296, there are a series of short ‘essays’ (for lack of a better term) which discuss the message of the book, its theological themes, and its relevance for the present.  And finally there is a discussion of the place of the book of Revelation in the larger New Testament (pp. 297- 328).

The work concludes with a bibliography, list of abbreviations, and a subject index.

When it comes to the exegesis offered in the work, it is wonderfully meticulous and incredibly clear.  Klaiber isn’t distracted, for example, in his exposition of Rev 13:18, by the lunacy so often associated with the passage.  Instead, he treats it as it should be treated: as a notion with relevance for the first readers of the book and the author’s intended audience.  The person described is simply an agent of evil and a servant of the satanic.  That image has modern relevance just as much as ancient, as evil continues to destroy lives.

Klaiber draws explanatory material from the Old Testament when that material is relevant to the meaning of the book of Revelation.  He does not simply pile up Old Testament citations and potential parallels in the manner of the dispensationalists who love to misquote texts in order to ‘prove’ their interpretation.

Throughout the exposition, Klaiber demonstrates himself to be thoroughly familiar with both exegetical and theological issues; and he addresses them spectacularly.  His use of sidebars and smaller fonts to assist readers in finding geographical or theological materials relevant to the pericope under discussion is also masterful.  He neither says too much, thus boring the reader with unnecessary details, nor does he say too little so that the reader is left wondering what something signifies.

There are a number of very helpful commentaries on the New Testament.  But few are as concise and yet as fully informative as the present volume on Revelation.  Readers are mightily encouraged to read this brilliant work.

Eschatologie und Wirklichkeit Jesu Christi: Zum Werk von Thomas F. Torrance

Viele biblische Texte sprechen davon, dass Gott unsere Welt auf eine fundamentale Weise neu schaffen wird. Wie ist das zu verstehen? T.F. Torrance, einer der meistrezipierten englischsprachigen Theologen des 20. Jahrhunderts, sagt: Wenn wir Jesus Christus als eine reale Größe in den Blick nehmen, können wir ein realistisches Bild der Neuschöpfung gewinnen. Diesen Zusammenhang rekonstruiert Geck in seiner historisch sensiblen Werkinterpretation. Torrance’ Entscheidungen fallen in seiner frühen Christologie, stehen in einer dialektisch gelesenen schottischen Tradition (u.a. Campbell, Forsyth, Mackintosh, Brunner), unterscheiden sich erheblich von Karl Barth und bleiben im ökumenischen Kontext sowie im Dialog mit den Naturwissenschaften prägend. Genial ist Torrance’ Gedanke, das Abendmahl als ‘Auferstehungsereignis’ zu verstehen. Doch sind seine latenten Dualismen zu korrigieren, um konsequent und realistisch von Gottes Neuschöpfung unserer Welt sprechen zu können.

Those who love Barth and Torrance will love this book.

Nach dem zweiten Weltkrieg gewinnt das Interesse an der Bedeutung biblisch-eschatologischen Denkens auch international an Intensität. Einer der ersten, die sich nun der Eschatologie widmen, ist der junge schottische Theologe Thomas F. Torrance (1913−2007). Er engagiert sich in der ökumenischen Bewegung, die in den 1940er Jahren an großer Dynamik gewinnt, und regt 1948 im britischen Zweig der Bewegung für Glauben und Kirchenverfassung (Faith and Order) an, sich intensiver mit der aktuellen Forschung zur Eschatologie zu beschäftigen. Er verfasst ein Gutachten zur zeitgenössischen Eschatologie und schreibt den Aufsatz Eschatology and Eucharist für einen Vorbereitungsband zur Faith and Order-Weltkonferenz in Lund.

With this background in mind

Fünfzig Jahre später haben diese Fragen keineswegs an ihrer Dringlichkeit verloren. Die enormen Gestaltungskräfte des Menschen lassen spätmoderne Propheten das neue Zeitalter des Anthropozän ausrufen, in dem die Menschen nicht nur ihren natürlichen Lebensraum, sondern auch ihre eigene Gattung zerstören können. Von theologischem Interesse ist hier nicht nur die Makroperspektive, die in säkularisierter und postmetaphysischer Manier nach dem Sinn und Ziel der uns zugänglichen Wirklichkeit fragt.11 Auch der erdenschwere Realismus dieser Zukunftsszenarien sollte die christliche Theologie nachdenklich machen. Sie muss sich keinesfalls von deren Denkmustern gefangen nehmen lassen, darf aber ihrem irritierenden Realismus nicht einfach ausweichen. Dazu besteht auch keine Notwendigkeit, ist ihr Erkenntnisgegenstand doch der dreieinige Gott, der sich in unserer Wirklichkeit – nicht aber an ihr vorbei – zeigt, um in und an ihr zu handeln.

What, then, is to be made of the intersection of time and eternity and resurrection in modern theology?  Or in the author of this informative volume puts it

Die Frage, ob Jesus wirklich auferweckt wurde, dient Torrance als eschatologischer reality check. An ihr entscheidet sich, ob die Verheißung der Neuschöpfung unserer Wirklichkeit gilt: „If Jesus Christ is not risen in Body, then salvation is not actualised in the same sphere of reality in which we are, and we are yet in our sins (1 Cor. 15.17)“. Es ist dieser Anspruch, der ihn dazu bringt, eschatologische Aussagen nicht von vornherein als uneigentliche Sätze zu behandeln, die in unserer Wirklichkeit keinen direkten Sachgehalt haben können, weil sie über die Erkenntnisbedingungen menschlicher Subjektivität hinausgehen.

The entire volume seeks to address that central question.  The last lines tell the tale in brief:

Die beschriebene Kontinuität zwischen dem erhöhten und dem kommenden Christus kann aber als Hinweis darauf dienen, dass sein schwer greifbares, endgültiges Kommen kein monolithisches Ereignis ist, welches den vielfältigen Welten, in denen wir leben, diametral entgegensteht. In dieser Hinsicht kann ein realistischer Blick auf die gegenwärtige Wirklichkeit Jesu Christi auch ein realistischeres Verständnis seiner ausstehenden Parusie ermöglichen.

This is a well written volume with a thorough bibliography.  And it uses footnotes instead of endnotes (and these days that’s a real blessing).  It is well presented and delightful.  You ought to read it.

[And, yes, this is a skeleton of a review.  It’s the best I could muster.  To be honest, as enjoyable as this book is, it just wasn’t exciting, and I find these sorts of things too meta.  Before long instead of studying a topic (eschatology) we will be studying what a particular theologian thinks about another particular theologian’s view of eschatology.  And, sure, there’s a place for all that, but it suggests that people are a) bored with eschatology; and b) bored with theology, but they have to write something so why not write about what someone else has written about about what someone else has written about…  Anyway, the pandemic is dragging me down man…. it’s just dragging me down….]

Calvinus frater in Domino: Papers of the Twelfth International Congress on Calvin Research

The 16th century Reformer John Calvin is an outstanding personality. That’s why the international Calvin Congress convenes every four years to share insights in the theology and context of his person. Whether it is about the relation between Christianity and politics, Calvin’s interpretation of biblical texts or if it’s about Calvin, the systematic theologian whose concepts build a cornerstone for nowadays schemes – the papers collected in this volume will help for a better understanding of his significant person and thoughts.

It was a fantastic conference!  And the papers were super.  If you missed the gathering, you should take advantage of this collection.

The six plenary papers included in this volume all examine various aspects of Calvin’s understanding of the Bible’s impact on politics and freedom. The editors also received numerous submissions of revised short papers for inclusion in this volume. Unfortunately we were not able to include all the offerings. The range of topics and approaches testifies to the ongoing health of the field of Calvin studies both in North America and worldwide.

The table of contents is available here.  Looking there will make potential readers aware that the volume is primarily consumed by the short papers which made up the bulk of the sessions; and the plenary papers had the largest attendance.  Attendees all had the opportunity to attend the plenary’s since these were held without any competitors for audience attention whilst the short papers were offered in simultaneous sessions and participants had to choose those papers of the greatest personal interest.

These stood out to me, both in terms of engaging content and brilliance of presentation:

Elsie McKee – Praying for the Dead or for the King? Prayers of Intercession in the Roman Catholic and Reformed Traditions

Olivier Millet – A Comparison of Calvin and Other Exegetes on 1 Samuel 8

Ariane Albisser – The Significance of Pneumatology for the Consensus Tigurinus [A paper which I really, really loved]

Pierrick Hildebrand – Civil Order and Covenant. Heinrich Bullinger and John Calvin compared [Another paper that I enjoyed tremendously]

Kirk Summers– Theodore Beza’s “Bare-Breasted Religion.” Liturgical Mystery and the English Vestments Controversy

I presented a paper on Zwingli (that I’m happy to say was standing room only and very well received) but since the focus of the Conference, as well as the Conference volume, was Calvin that paper was not included in the collection of papers.

Below are a few excerpts from Ariane’s essay:

Although it is important to understand the distinct influence of Bullinger and Calvin on the Consensus Tigurinus, it is also helpful to take seriously the Consensus itself. Taking it seriously as a compromise between Bullinger and Calvin, between Zurich and Geneva, means to acknowledge the Consensus first and foremost as a document of unity. So, even if the way to the consensus might be understood as a battlefield of theological arguments, the result is a compromise on which both sides, Bullinger and Calvin agreed freely.

And then further on

It is a central element of the compromise in the Consensus to establish the correct Reformed and biblically faithful understanding of the sacraments. In an intense discussion (Calvin’s “Propositiones”, Bullinger’s “Annotationes”, Calvin’s “Responsio” and Bullinger’s “Annotata”) Bullinger and Calvin tried to clear up misunderstandings on the sacraments and especially misunderstandings and misinterpretations of the Lord’s Supper. In this essay, I will not consider all the different ways to describe the sacraments – like for example the discussion whether they can even be called “sacramenta” – and focus instead on one concrete element of their eucharistic terminology, namely how the sacraments are used and given by the Holy Spirit.

The whole essay is worth reading.  As are the contents of this wonderful volume.

The next Calvin Conference will take place August, 22–25, 2022 at MacKenzie Presbyterian University, Sao Paulo, Brazil, and I am very much looking forward to it.

I may offer a paper titled ‘Zwingli: Calvin’s Better’. Or I may be Servetus-ized.

In all seriousness, do take this volume in hand and spend a week or so with it. You’ll come away with both a new appreciation for Calvin and a deeper understanding of his work.

Renaissance und Bibelhumanismus

Als im Jahr 1516 die neue Ausgabe des Neuen Testaments, das Novum Instrumentum des Erasmus von Rotterdam erschien, war dies ein herausragendes Ereignis mit weitreichenden Konsequenzen und Wirkungen. Sowohl die Reformation des 16. Jahrhunderts mit ihrer zentralen Stellung der biblischen Schriften und ihrer Exegese als auch die Entwicklung der in die Moderne weisenden biblischen Textkritik lassen sich ohne die Arbeiten des Erasmus kaum denken. Dennoch ist auch Erasmus in einem breiteren Zusammenhang der mannigfachen Bibel- und Text-orientierten Reformbewegung des Spätmittelalters, der Renaissance und des Humanismus zu sehen. Dies verdeutlichen die einzelnen Beiträge des vorliegenden Bandes.

This conference volume, the contents of which are discoverable at the link above…

… hatte sich die internationale Konferenz „Renaissance-Humanismus. Bibel und Reformbewegungen des 15. und 16. Jahrhunderts und ihre Bedeutung für das Werden der Reformation“ der Johannes a Lasco Bibliothek Emden zur Aufgabe gemacht.

It was held several years back, 14.–16. September 2016 in Emden.  The essays contained herein run the gamut of humanistic / theological enquiry and as a consequence there’s something of interest to all comers (readers).  So, for example, the essay titled Hebraism and Humanism asks the very important question- was Christian Hebraism a consequence of Renaissance Humanism?  And the answer?

The principal focus of medieval Hebraism is biblical exegesis as a tool for battling the Jews on their own ground.

Reading the Scriptures During the Early Reformation is another example of the broad-spectrum approach of the editors and their choices.  Its conclusion is that

Reading the Bible according to the liturgical reading schedule was a persistent phenomenon in both Catholic and Lutheran milieus, notwithstanding the publications of numerous complete Bibles.

Readers in the early Reformation era appear, then, to have been creatures of habit who stuck fairly closely to what they knew: the lectionary, preferring it to Scripture itself.

Included as well is the paper titled The ‘Golden Age’ of Catholic Biblical Scholarship.  This essay is extraordinarily interesting, asserting as it does that…

The aim of this contribution is to fill the notable gap regarding ‘Golden Age’ scholarship by offering an overview essay, based upon the most recent studies in the field, and contribute to a conversation about this lacuna in the history of Catholic biblical scholarship.

And it achieves its aim.  Notable passages like this populate the essay:

In many ways the ‘Golden Age’ came to a close in France just as it peaked. For although historical-critical questions had already been asked by figures such as Masius, Pereira, Bonfrère and Morin, it was only in the second half of the seventeenth century that scientific accuracy and the questioning of dogmatic decrees would enter the mainstream of biblical interpretation. Skepticism toward Mosaic authorship dominated this early current of historical criticism and the subsequent dissection of the Pentateuch was done with a much different attitude than that employed by Catholic scholars from the ‘Golden Age’ who combined biblical humanism with the Church’s tradition to strengthen Catholic faith and morals (as was comparable to the case in other Christian confessions).

All in all, this is a very enjoyable collection of essays which were first delivered at what must surely have been a very enjoyable conference.  But, like all conference volumes, it lacks that essential element of conference attendance; interaction.  We cannot question the presenters and that is why, although conference volumes will always remain invaluable, they can never really replace ‘being there.’

Die Botschaft des Neuen Testaments

V&R have announced a new series of volumes on the New Testament that you may be interested in:

Die Auslegungen der Reihe „Die Botschaft des Neuen Testaments“ sind auf dem heutigen Stand der Exegese, die Autor/innen kommentieren die neutestamentlichen Bücher aber allgemein verständlich. Die historische Situation der Texte wird erklärt, vor allem aber ihre Botschaft herausgearbeitet und nach ihrer Bedeutung für heute gefragt. Die Auslegungen haben interessierte Bibelleser im Blick, die keine theologischen Vorkenntnisse haben, sind aber durch die Verbindung von wissenschaftlicher Exegese und aktuellen Fragen auch für Pfarrer/innen, Religionslehrer/innen und Theologiestudierende hilfreich.

There’s an interview with the series editor here.  Review copies of Romans, 1-2 Thessalonians, 1-3 John, and Revelation arrived in early May and I’ll be posting reviews of each volume in reverse canonical order.

First- Revelation.  It will post tomorrow.

Septuaginta. Band 3,1 Numeri (2nd Ed.)

A review copy of this newly published work arrived some months back and having made use of it I can offer the following remarks concerning the edition.

First, the earlier edition of the LXX book of Numbers was published in 1982 and the present 2nd edition was published this year (2020).

The first edition was 443 pages and the second edition is, likewise, 443 pages.

In the first edition this is the text which appears on page 47:

1:1 Και ἐλάλησεν κύριος προς Μωυσῆν ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ τῇ Σινά, ἐν τῇ σκηνῇ τοῦ μαρτυρίου, ἐν μιᾷ τοῦ μηνος τοῦ δευτέρου ἔτους δευτέρου ἐξελθόντων αὐτῶν ἐκ γῆς Αἰγύπτου, λέγων 2 Λάβετε ἀρχην πάσης συναγωγῆς υἱῶν Ἰσραηλ κατα συγγενείας αὐτῶν, κατʼ οἴκους πατριῶν

And here is the text on page 47 in the second edition:

In the first edition, on page 293, the poetic structure is visually supported:

ἀνατελεῖ ἄστρον ἐξ Ἰακώβ,
και ἀναστήσεται ἄνθρωπος ἐξ Ἰσραήλ,
και θραύσει τους ἀρχηγους Μωάβ,
και προνομεύσει πάντας υἱους Σήθ.
18 και ἔσται Ἐδωμ κληρονομία,
και ἔσται κληρονομία Ἠσαυ ὁ ἐχθρος αὐτοῦ·
και Ἰσραηλ ἐποίησεν ἐν ἰσχύι.
19 και ἐξεγερθήσεται ἐξ Ἰακώβ,
και ἀπολεῖ σῳζόμενον ἐκ πόλεως.
20 και ἰδων τον Ἀμαληκ και ἀναλαβων την παραβολην αὐτοῦ εἶπεν

And likewise in the second edition:

The second edition of the Göttingen Septuagint is a republication of the first edition.  I have been unable to find, in any case, any differences either in the introductory material, the text, or the apparatus.  There may be, and I have simply missed them.  But I was unable to discover any.

What, then, is the up side of obtaining the new edition?  First, it has a better cover than the first edition.  And second, it has long been out of print.  And, given the way publishing is today, the present edition may not remain in print very long, so if you have wanted to grab a copy or if your library lacks a stellar copy of the LXX, this may be the best possible time to acquire one.  The textual apparatus is dozens and dozens of times fuller and more useful than the more widely used Rahlfs/ Hanhart edition as well.

No one who is serious about the study of the Old Testament can ignore the LXX.  No one serious about the study of the New Testament can either. As was noted long ago, during a class he was teaching on the Septuagint, Ferdinand Hitzig said to his students

“Gentlemen, have you a Septuagint? If not, sell all you have, and buy a Septuagint.”

I would advise you to do the same.  Though these days it won’t cost you everything that you have.

How Prophecy Works

There is a longstanding scholarly debate on the nature of prophecy in ancient Israel. Until now, no study has based itself on the semantics of the Hebrew lexeme nābîʾ (“prophet”). This investigation by William L. Kelly discusses the nature and function of prophecy in the corpus of the Hebrew book of Jeremiah. It analyses all occurrences of nābîʾ in Jeremiah and performs a close reading of three primary texts, Jeremiah 1.4–19, 23.9–40 and 27.1–28.17. The result is a detailed explanation of how prophecy works, and what it meant to call someone a nābîʾ in ancient Israel.

Combining the results of the semantic analysis and close readings, the study reaches conclusions for six main areas of study: (1) the function and nature of prophecy; (2) dreams and visions; (3) being sent; (4) prophets, priests and cult; (5) salvation and doom; and (6) legitimacy and authority. These conclusions explain the conceptual categories related to nābîʾ in the corpus. I then situate these findings in two current debates, one on the definition of nābîʾ and one on cultic prophecy. This study contributes to critical scholarship on prophecy in the ancient world, on the book of Jeremiah, and on prophets in ancient Israel. It is the first major study to analyse nābîʾ based on its semantic associations.

It adds to a growing consensus which understands prophecy as a form of divination. Contrary to some trends in Jeremiah scholarship, this work demonstrates the importance of a close reading of the Masoretic (Hebrew) text. This study uses a method of a general nature which can be applied to other texts. Thus there are significant implications for further research on prophecy and prophetic literature.

The author introduces his work as follows:

This work was written as a doctoral thesis under the supervision of Professor Hans M. Barstad at the School of Divinity of the University of Edinburgh, and defended in December 2016. The final version of the manuscript was completed in December 2017, and I have not been able to include any additional literature that has reached me since.

Consequently, it is a dissertation-esque work, with all the trappings of that genre of literature.  I.e., there are lots of footnotes, there are lots of bibliographic entries, and there are lots of details.  If you are a potential reader of the present volume you have probably read your fair share of dissertations turned into published volumes.  This one holds no surprises in terms of that genre.

It is, still, a very thorough work, even by the standards of the standard dissertation in the field of Hebrew Bible studies.  It will be amazingly helpful to those who have interest in either the Book of Jeremiah or the genre of prophetic literature.

Here’s a small sampling of the author’s explication of the topic he chose for his introduction to the field of biblical scholarship:

Describing prophecy as phenomenon means taking it as an observable occurrence or type of behaviour. But where and how is it observed? Prophecy in the ancient world is known almost exclusively through texts. It is at this point that the study of prophecy as phenomenon reaches one of its “most vexing issues”, namely, the extent to which the phenomenon of prophecy in the biblical and ancient Near Eastern texts correspond to “the socio-historical realities of prophecy [my italics]”

A few pages further on

Jeremiah holds a special place in this debate since he sometimes is considered to be one of the first Israelite prophets to be called a נביא Similar views to those of Auld are found in more recent literature. Gonçalves argues that the “writing prophets” resisted and opposed נביאים in their lifetimes and that a positive tradition of prophecy in Israel, originating with Moses, is a later deuteronomistic construction. In like manner, de Jong argues that there are successive “profiles” of Jeremiah in the different stages of the book’s composition which are a “re-definition of the prophetic function”. In this model Jeremiah progresses from a figure “pro society” to a figure “contra society”, only then to be recast positively in Mosaic prophetic succession. Stökl also makes the more general claim, in agreement with Carroll, Gonçalves and de Jong, that “[i]t appears relatively certain that almost none of the pre-exilic writing prophets regarded themselves as a נביא.”

Rich in detail, exceptional in exegesis, and intelligent in historical reconstruction, the present work is very much worthy of your Coronatide time.

It’s even worthy of your time for post-Coronatide reading.

From Scribal Error to Rewriting: How Ancient Texts Could and Could Not Be Changed

How ancient texts could and could not be changed has been in the focus of vibrant scholarly discussions in recent years. The present volume offers contributions from a representative group of prominent scholars from different backgrounds and specialties in the areas of Classical and Biblical studies who were gathered at an interdisciplinary symposium held in May 2015 at the Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University in Tbilisi, Georgia. In the first part of the volume Ancient Scribal and Editorial Practices, the authors approach ancient scribal and editorial techniques in Greek, Latin, and Syriac sources concerning classical and biblical texts, their textual criticism, and editorial history.

The second part Textual History of the Hebrew Bible focuses on scribal and editorial aspects of the textual history of the Hebrew Bible. The third part Writing and Rewriting in Translation deals with a variety of writings from the Old Testament, New Testament, Apocrypha, and Patristic texts in various languages (Greek, Coptic, Arabic, Armenian, and Georgian), focusing on issues of textual criticism and translation technique. The volume contains an especially rich assortment of contributions by Georgian textual scholars concerning ancient editorial practices and ancient Georgian translations of biblical and patristic texts. This collection of papers provides insights into a variety of different areas of study that seldom come into contact with each other but are clearly in many ways related.

With thanks to V&R for the review copy.

The front matter can be downloaded here and issues such as the contents and the opening material can be read by those who may be interested in the book.  The essays herein contained spring, as so many things do these days, from a Conference:

The present volume focuses on ancient literary cultures and the work of copyists, editors, and translators. The contributions included in it represent the work of a diverse group of senior and junior scholars from North America, Europe, Israel, and Georgia, who were gathered to an interdisciplinary symposium in Tbilisi, Georgia from 30 April–3 May 2015. On behalf of all the participants, the editors would like to express their sincere gratitude to the initiator and organizer of the symposium Professor Anna Kharanauli and her many colleagues and students for their generous hospitality and excellent organization of the symposium and its accompanying program. We would also like to thank the Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University and the Shota Rustaveli National Science Foundation for making the event financially possible. The symposium was a wonderful opportunity to meet and exchange ideas between scholars and students of different backgrounds and specialties who might not regularly have other occasions to see each other, and it was a great chance to get acquainted with the country and culture of Georgia.

Then follows a description of each chapter.  The whole is made up of three main sections and in all there are 16 essays.  All are in English.

The work is more or less a reception history of biblical texts as that history is made apparent in works of textual criticism and rewritten texts.  It is an intriguing volume but one which fits within a very narrow niche of biblical scholarship.  After all, when essays discuss such things as Galen’s textual criticism, and the scribe of the marginal notes of a fairly obscure manuscript, and the Armenian version of Esther, Judith and Tobit, and the Georgian translations’ various text types of the Septuagint, then you know that you are in the Himalayas and the climbing will be arduous and oxygen tanks will be necessary.

Specialist focus aside, there are a couple of essays that will appeal to a wider audience; these include Emanuel Tov’s ‘The Possible Revision of Hebrew Texts According to MT’, and Anneli Aejmalaeus’ ‘Rewriting David and Goliath?’.  These are both useful and helpful contributions.

This book, then, will chiefly appeal to a very small segment of biblical/ textual scholars.  Other biblical scholars will find a few of the essays to be of use.  All will enjoy those essays which address some aspect of their own work.

Reprobation: from Augustine to the Synod of Dort: The Historical Development of the Reformed Doctrine of Reprobation

Over the centuries, the Protestant church has been severed into two major positions in regard to predestination and reprobation. On one side, the Arminians largely reject these doctrines, while the reformed readily embrace them as biblical truth. Although much has been written either rejecting or defending the doctrine of reprobation, little attention has been given to the historical development of the reformed position on the nature of reprobation and God’s use of secondary causality in the hardening of the wicked. By means of historical analysis, Peter Sammons traces the development of the doctrine of reprobation from Augustine to the Synod of Dort.

In this book, Sammons gives special attention to views on reprobation and its various parts, preterition and predamnation, along with how, historically, theologians have attempted to articulate its execution. Perhaps one of the greatest paradoxes in all of Scripture, theology, and philosophy is here addressed: “How does an omnibenevolent and omnipotent God predetermine and interact with sin in the world?” Answering the question proves vital, not merely to reconcile theological and philosophical concerns, but to answer the all-important question of life, “Who is God?”

This volume is intended to provide a balanced analysis of the historical and intellectual development within reformed theology as to how God is simultaneously holy and sovereign by examining how reprobation and its parts have historically been defined. Reformed understanding on this doctrine was not done in a vacuum, nor was it concluded in the 180 meetings of the Synod of Dort; rather, it has a history within the church of thoughtful development.

A review copy arrived in the mail today.  More on this book soon.

Die Reformation 1517: Zwischen Gewinn und Verlust

Die Feierlichkeiten anno 2017 haben anschaulich gezeigt, in welchem Grad die Reformation immer noch an die Person Martin Luthers geknüpft wird. Gefeiert wurde der Reformator als der ultimative deutsche Held, der – der Legende nach – mit dem Satz „Hier stehe ich und ich kann nicht anders“ gleich zwei bis dahin unhinterfragbare Autoritäten, die des Papstes und die des Kaisers, herausforderte, dessen Hammerschläge nicht allein die Reformation, sondern gar die Neuzeit einläuten sollten, der uns ferner als der erste moderne Mensch persönliche Freiheit schenkte und der den Namen des eigentlichen (neben Bonifatius früher und Bismarck später) Schöpfers der deutschen Nation verdiene. Seit jeher wurde dafür gesorgt, dass sich rund um den Wittenberger Theologieprofessor Mythen wie diese rank(t)en.

Dabei hatte die (kirchliche) Reformation, die Luther mitprägte, neben ihren positiven auch problembehaftete Folgen. Spätestens jetzt also, aus heutiger Sicht und vor dem Hintergrund des 500. Reformationsjubiläums, muss deshalb die Frage erlaubt sein, ob man im Falle der 1517 ausgelösten Bewegung in der Tat nur von Gewinn(en), wie es meistens die Forschung des 19., aber auch teilweise 20. Jahrhunderts wollte, oder eben auch von Verlust(en) sprechen sollte.

More details are available here.

A Boatload of New Books That You’ll Want to Read

From V&R-

Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht is Making Its Extensive Collection of Biblical Studies Materials Available

Along with other subject areas:

Uns erreichen immer wieder Anfragen von Studierenden, die zurzeit an Seminar- und Abschlussarbeiten schreiben und aufgrund der Schließung von Bibliotheken nur schwer an die wichtige Literatur kommen.

Wissenschaft und Forschung auch in Krisenzeiten aufrecht zu erhalten, ist uns sehr wichtig und deshalb haben wir uns dazu entschieden, bis einschließlich 19. April wissenschaftlichen Bibliotheken die Nutzung sämtlicher Inhalte der V&R eLibrary ohne weitere Kosten freizuschalten.

Studierende können dann von überall per Remote Access unkompliziert auf ca. 7000 eBooks, 41 eJournals und 12 eYearbooks zugreifen. Sprechen Sie am besten Ihre Bibliothek direkt an und verweisen Sie auf unser Angebot!

Verknüpfungen des neuen Glaubens: Die Rostocker Reformationsgeschichte in ihren translokalen Bezügen

Um geschichtspolitischen und erinnerungskulturellen Verengungen und Einseitigkeiten entgegenzuwirken, die im Rahmen des Reformationsjubiläums 2017 mit der Betonung auf Luther und Wittenberg allgegenwärtig waren, nimmt dieser Band den Prozess der Reformation in einer zeitlich und geographisch anders gelagerten Fokussierung in den Blick. Denn das Beispiel der Hansestadt Rostock zeigt, dass „Reformation“ nie ein lokal und zeitlich begrenztes Ereignis war. Von verschiedensten Akteuren (Gelehrte, Prediger, Drucker, Studierende) wurde mit Hilfe unterschiedlichster Medien (Kirchenordnung, Gesangbuch, Geschichtsschreibung, Verträge) ein regelrechtes Netz des neuen Glaubens geknüpft.

Dieser Band beleuchtet nicht nur die Verbindungen zwischen der deutschen und skandinavischen Kirchengeschichte, sondern bringt auch frömmigkeits- und kommunikationsgeschichtliche Aspekte mit der Universitäts- und politischen Ereignisgeschichte ins Gespräch. Lokale Aspekte des reformatorischen Geschehens in Rostock, Mecklenburg und den skandinavischen Nachbarländern werden zudem in die Gesamtgeschichte und Zusammenhänge der Reformation eingeordnet und auf ihre aktuellen Bezüge hin beleuchtet. Die Diversität des historischen Phänomens spiegelt sich nicht nur in der Interdisziplinarität der Beiträge (Geschichte, Theologie, Germanistik, Archäologie, Buchwissenschaften), sondern auch in der Kombination von Überblicksdarstellungen und detaillierten Quellenstudien.

I enjoyed this volume (a lot, mostly because it takes me away from the present so thoroughly, and the present is just a morass of misery).   But unless you have very specialized, and I mean VERY specialized interests in a VERY small slice of a VERY tiny bit of a VERY particular segment of Reformation history, you may not.

The specialist essays herein contained are discoverable here.  It is a conference volume, thusly described by its editors:

Die in diesem Band versammelten Beiträge stellen eine Auswahl überarbeiteter Vorträge dar, die bei der Wissenschaftlichen Konsultation „Joachim Slüter und die Reformation in Rostock. Voraussetzungen, Aspekte der Durchsetzung und Wirkungen im Ostseeraum“ (Februar 2015) und auf dem Wissenschaftlichen Symposium „Wo das Wort wirkt. Die Rostocker Reformationsgeschichte in ihren translokalen Bezügen“ (Herbst 2016) an der Theologischen Fakultät der Universität Rostock gehalten wurden. Beide Veranstaltungen stießen in der Universität, vor allem aber auch in einer breiteren Öffentlichkeit auf viel Interesse, so dass wir hoffen, dass die Beiträge auch in der nun vorliegenden schriftlichen Form viele geneigte Leser*innen finden werden.

And from the Introduction

Die Reformation in Rostock ist selbstverständlich nicht als lokal begrenztes Ereignis zu verstehen. Den Verflechtungen über die Grenzen des Landes hinaus gehen drei Beiträge unter dem Titel „Mecklenburg und die Universität Rostock in den Wechselfällen der frühen Reformationsgeschichte“ nach. Eike Wolgast (Heidelberg, DE) ordnet die Rostocker Ereignisse in den größeren Kontext des reformatorischen Prozesses in Mecklenburg und im Alten Reich ein. Besondere Bedeutung hat in diesem Zusammenhang die Universität Rostock, die seit ihrer Gründung 1419 auch und gerade Studenten und Dozenten aus den skandinavischen Königreichen in die Hansestadt zog. Dass die Anfänge der Reformation sich auf diese Institution keineswegs nur positiv auswirkten, zeigt der Beitrag von Matthias Asche (Potsdam, DE), während Morten Fink-Jensen (Kopenhagen, DK) die engen Verbindungen und auch die daraus entstehende Konkurrenz zwischen den Universitäten in Rostock und Kopenhagen aufzeigt.

As you, dear reader, can tell, the volume is, as suggested above, specifically aimed at a particularly narrow audience.  And it informs that audience amazingly well.  It is articulate and its authors extremely knowledgeable.

It may well be imagined that such niche volumes, without wide market appeal, would be the very sorts of things that publishers, especially in America, would avoid.  After all, for American publishers the only name of the game is sales.  But what V&R and other European publishers prove is that a book’s worth is not determined by its market value, but by its contribution to the store of human knowledge.

European publishers care about learning.  It’s that simple.  So they publish learned tomes.

American publishers care about money.  It’s that simple.  So they publish anything they think will sell.  Even it if it utter garbage.  That’s why, for instance, Joel Osteen and Rick Warren’s books are published by American publishers and not European publishers.  Learning doesn’t matter to American publishers, cash does.

We should all be grateful, then, for those publishers that put learning above pulp rubbish.  This is a learned volume.  Even if you never read it, and don’t care about it’s subject matter, you ought to be thankful that it exists.