Matthias Konradt on the Soteriological Significance of Jesus’ Death in Matthew

In today’s post I will look at another key quotation from this year’s BMSEC volume, namely Matthias Konradt‘s book Israel, Church, and the Gentiles in the Gospel of Matthew, which has been translated with great precision and elegance by Kathleen Ess. For my other posts on this book, see here.

As usual I will begin with the English translation so that the selective grammatical analysis can directly follow the German text.

Translation and Text

Israel, Church, and the Gentiles in the Gospel of Matthew (p. 298; trans. K. Ess, bracketed material added by W. Coppins): While the soteriological dimension of the Matthean model of Jesus’ divine sonship is made clear already in 1.18-25 as well as in the pericope of Jesus’ walk across the water in 14.22-33, this dimension is emphatically reinforced in the Passion Narrative. Matthew concisely expresses the soteriological significance of Jesus’ death by adding εἰς ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν [for the forgiveness of sins] to the words of institution in 26.28. Matthew left out these very words in the portrayal of John the Baptist, in contrast with Mark 1.4. In Matthew, the forgiveness of sins is linked not with the baptism of John but with Jesus’ death. In the preceding narrative, this soteriological significance is reflected in the authority of the Son of Man to forgive sins in 9.6, as well as Jesus’ ministry to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel” in general. Both elements together develop the basic christological statement of 1.21: “For Matthew the forgiveness of sins stands at the center of Jesus’ mission.” The connection between 1.21 and Jesus’ passion is not only achieved through 26.28 but also further substantiated in that the name Jesus, which in 1.21 is explained in the statement of salvation, is inserted in the titulus crucis in 27.37: the Markan ὁ βασιλεὺς τῶν Ἰουδαίων [the king of the Jews] becomes in Matthew οὗτός ἐστιν Ἰησοῦς ὁ βασιλεὺς τῶν Ἰουδαίων [this is Jesus the king of the Jews]. It is plausible to assume that Matthew here creates an intentional reference to the interpretation of the name in 1.21, and thereby, in line with 26.28, connects Jesus’ death with the forgiveness of sins.

* The quoted sentence is from the translation of U. Luz’ commentary on Matthew 21-28 (p. 381 = p. 116 in vol 4 of the German version).

Israel, Kirche und die Völker im Matthäusevangelium (p. 320): Wurde bereits in 1.18-25 sowie durch die Seewandelperikope in 14.22-33 die soteriologische Dimension der mattäischen Profilierung der Gottessohnschaft Jesu deutlich, so wird dies durch die Passionserzählung mit Nachdruck untermauert. Die soteriologische Bedeutung des Todes Jesu findet bei Matthäus einen konzisen Ausdruck in der Hinzufügung von εἰς ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν im Kelchwort in 26.28. Ebendiese Worte hat Matthäus bei der Präsentation des Täufers gegenüber Mk 1,4 ausgelassen. Sündenvergebung wird von Matthäus nicht schon an die Johannestaufe, sondern an den Tod Jesu gebunden. In der vorangehenden Erzählung steht dem in 9,6 die Vollmacht des Menschensohns zur Vergebung der Sünden wie überhaupt die Zuwendung Jesu zu den “verlorenen Schafen des Hauses Israel” zur Seite. Beides zusammen entfaltet die christologische Basis-aussage von 1,21. “Die Vergebung der Sünden ist für Matthäus das Zentrum der Sendung Jesu”. Die Verbindung zwischen 1,21 und der Passion Jesu erfolgt dabei nicht allein durch 26.28, sondern wird noch dadurch untermauert, dass der Name “Jesus”, der in 1,21 durch die Rettungsaussage erläutert wird, im titulus crucis in 27,37 eingefügt ist: Aus dem markinischen ὁ βασιλεὺς τῶν Ἰουδαίων wird bei Matthäus οὗτός ἐστιν Ἰησοῦς ὁ βασιλεὺς τῶν Ἰουδαίων. Die Annahme liegt nahe, dass Matthäus hier einen gezielten Rückvereis auf die Namensdeutung in 1,21 setzt und damit ganz auf der Linie von 26,28 den Tod Jesu als Ort der Sündenvergebung ausweist.

Grammatical Analysis

Rather than providing a selective analysis of the entire passage, let me now treat the last two sentences in detail as a model sentence: Die Verbindung … Jesu forms the subject of the verb erfolgt. Die Verbindung = the connection; zwischen = between + dative (1.21 und der Passion/the passion); Jesu is genitive (of Jesus); K. Ess has translated erfolgt with “is … achieved” rather than adopting a more wooden solution such as “takes place”. She appears to have left dabei untranslated (as I often do). nicht allein = not only. durch 26.28 = through 26.28 (it might have been preferable to write “is achieved not only through 26.28). sondern = but. I like the translation “is substantiated” for wird untermauert. She has rendered sondern … noch as “but also further”, which works well, since “not only” needs to be followed by “but also” in English. dadurch … dass has been translated with “in that”, which works well, though I might have gone with “but is further substantiated also by the fact that”. der Name Jesus / the name Jesus is the subject. It is modified by the non-defining relative clause der … wird: der = which; as usual the verb wird erläutert is moved to the end of the subordinate clause; durch die Rettungsaussage (acc) = “by the statement of salvation”. The verb of the main sentence, eingefügt ist has been moved to the end of the subordinate clause introduced by dass: I might have translated it with “has been inserted” rather than “is inserted” though I think it works well as it stands. In the German I would have expected (no doubt incorrectly!) the accusative (into the titulus crucis) rather than the dative im titulus crucis, which is correctly translated as “in the titulus crucis“. Aus X wird Y can be translated as “X becomes Y” (as K. Ess has done here). I always struggle with the translation of liegt nahe, and I might have rendered this phrase as “The assumption is suggested that” or “the assumption lies close at hand that”. But I much prefer K. Ess’s translation of this phrase as “It is plausible to assume”: dass introduces what is being assumed; that Matthäus … setzt und … ausweist. The object of setzt/creates is einen gezielten Rückverweis/an intentional reference, which is probably better than adopting a more expansive solution such as “an intentional reference back”. auf = to + die Namensdeutung/the interpretation of the name (accusative). damit is always troublesome. As K. Ess has done, I often translate it with “thereby”, which I think works well here, though I have increasingly begun to leave it untranslated or use “in this way”. K. Ess has left ganz untranslated, writing “in line with 26.28″ rather than adopting a more cumbersome solution such as “completely in line with”. She has translated the last part of the sentence freely with “connected the death of Jesus with the forgiveness of sins” rather than adopting a more wooden translation such as “and thereby designated the death of Jesus as (the) place of the forgiveness of sins”, which might be preferable insofar as it retains the emphasis on place in the German.

Substantive analysis

I found this quotation to be a wonderfully compact presentation of the soteriological significance of Jesus’ ministry and death in Matthew. And for me at least Konradt’s interpretation of the significance of Matthew’s addition of Jesus’ name to the titulus was both convincing and new (it does not, however, appear to be a new idea as such; in his footnote to this point, Konradt writes: Compare Senior 1985, 131; Heil 1991a, 80; Luck 1993, 305; Repschinksi 2006, 264 (= CBQ 68); and Herzer 2009, 139).

Let me conclude this post by thanking Jason Maston again for interviewing me last week about the BMSEC series at Dunelm Road!

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German Mondays: Thank you for making it to the end of this blog post! Unfortunately, I have found it increasingly difficult to write a new post each Monday, but I hope to be able to write at least two or three Monday blog posts each month. We’ll see. Best, Wayne.

 

Jens Schröter on Jesus’ use of the Son of Man Expression as Aufmerksamkeitssignal

Today’s model sentence is excerpted from Jens Schröter‘s attractive attempt to answer the Gretchenfrage of the Son of Man Problem in his book Jesus of Nazareth – Jew From Galilee, Savior of the World (2014)Jesus von Nazaret: Jude aus Galiläa – Retter der Welt (1st = 2006; 4th = 2012).

For my other posts on this book, see here. For all my Schröterposts, see here.

Jesus of Nazareth (p. 167): The Son of Man expression can then be placed into the profile of the activity of Jesus as follows: Jesus used this expression in such a way that with it the distinctive character of precisely his activity was stressed … Thus, Jesus used the expression “Son of Man” rather than merely saying “I” in order to point to the distinctiveness of his person: everything that took place through him and toward him was of singular significance because as the representative of God he established God’s reign and confronted human beings with the decision over salvation and judgment. Thus, one can understand Jesus’ use as an attention-attracting signal with which he pointed to the distinctiveness of his person.

Jesus von Nazaret (4th edition, p. 254-255): Der Menschensohnausdruck lässt sich dann folgendermaßen in das Profil des Wirkens Jesu einzeichnen … Jesus benutzt demnach den Ausdruck “Menschensohn” und sagte nicht einfach “ich”, um damit auf die Besonderheit seiner Person hinzuweisen: Alles, was sich durch ihn und an ihm ereignete, war deshalb von einzigartiger Bedeutung, weil er als Repräsentant Gottes dessen Reich aufrichtete und die Menschen mit der Entscheidung über Heil und Unheil konfrontierte. Man kann die Verwendung durch Jesus also als ein Aufmerksamkeitssignal verstehen, mit dem er auf die Besonderheit seiner Person hinwies.

Grammatical Analysis: the subject is Menschensohnausdruck/Son of Man expression. I usually translate the expression lässt sich + infinitive (here: einzeichnen) as can be verb-ed (here: “can be placed into” or “can be sketched into”). dann = then. folgendermaßen = as follows. in das Profil (acc) + des Wirkens (genitive) + Jesu (genitive) goes with einzeichnen: can be placed/sketched into the profile of the activity of Jesus. Jesus is the subject and benuzt/uses is the verb. With a view to readability, I translated demnach as “thus” rather than “according to this”. den Ausdruck/the expression is the object of the verb and Menschensohn/Son of Man represents the expression that is in view. I translated und sagte nicht einfach (and said not simply) as “rather than merely saying” with a view to English style. “ich” = “I”. um + zu + infinitive = in order to verb: the zu is found in the verb at the end (hinzuweisen = zu hinweisen = “in order to point to”). I left damit untranslated: I sometimes translate damit with “thereby” or “in this way”. auf goes with the verb (to point to); it takes the accusative die Besonderheit/the distinctiveness + genitive seiner Person/of his person. Alles, was = everything which/that (I chose “that” because it seems to me that the clause is defining rather than non-defining). sich ereignete is the verb (happened/took place); durch ihn = through him. an ihm is more difficult and I’ve never discovered a great way to capture the sense in English, since “on him” doesn’t work so well and “toward him” or “to him” is not much better; sometimes I use “in relation to him”. war von Bedeutung = was of importance/significance + einzigartiger = was of singular or unique significance. deshalb/weil literally means  “therefore/for this reason …. because” but in this construction it is probably better to leave deshalb untranslated. weil/because introduces a subordinate clause and therefore the verbs aufrichtete/established and konfrontierte/confronted move to the end of their sentence segments. als Repräsentant Gottes = as representative God; in English it seemed necessary to write “as the representative of God”, though it probably would have been better to translate this phrase with “as God’s representative”. dessen Reich is the object of aufrichtete: established his reign/kingdom. In the context, his = God’s. Given the German word choice it may have been preferable to translate Reich as kingdom, but the translation really depends on knowing what emphasis the author wants to set with each use of this term. die Menschen = “people” or “human beings” is the object of konfrontierte. mit + dative (der Entscheidung) goes with konfrontierte = “confront … with the decision”, which is defined further via the preposition über/over + the two objects of the preposition, namely Heil/salvation and Unheil/judgment. Unfortunately, the word “unsalvation” doesn’t exist in English, so it is necessary use a word such as “judgment”, “ruin” or “disaster”: one of the the latter options may be preferable. Man = one or people. Man kann …x…als … verstehen = “one can understand x” or “x can be understood as”: the latter is often preferable despite the change from active to passive. die Verwendung (object of verstehen) = the use; durch Jesus = by Jesus: it would have been possible to alter the syntax and simply write “Jesus’ use”. also = thus/therefore (not “also”, which is a false friend): in English it is often best to move “Thus” to the beginning of the sentence. als ein Aufmerksamkeitssignal = “as an attention-attracting signal”: it is in the same case as die Verwendung (accusative), which would make it an object complement in Greek, but I’m not sure if this is the way one would speak of this construction in German/English. mit dem = with which. It introduces a subordinate clause and the verb hinwies (from hinweisen) moves to the end: with which er/he … points + auf/to + accusative die Besonderheit/the distinctiveness + genitive seiner Person/of his person.

Substantive analysis: I am attracted to and convinced by Schröter’s interpretation of Jesus’ use of the Son of Man expression as an Aufmerksamkeitssignal, which I think makes good sense of what we find in the narratives of the Gospels and good sense of what seems likely for the earthly Jesus.

Let me conclude today’s post by giving a plug for my wife Ingie Hovland‘s latest blog post on the anthropology of Christianity: Hidden determinants of Christians’ behavior: Reading Annelin Eriksen and Joel Robbins on values in Christianity!

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German Mondays: Thank you for making it to the end of this blog post! Unfortunately, I have found it increasingly difficult to write a new post each Monday, but I hope to be able to write at least two or three Monday blog posts each month. We’ll see. Best, Wayne.

 

 

Michael Bachmann on the New Perspective on Paul (Paulus Handbuch Series)

Before beginning today’s post, let me share a link to a translation competition that may be of interest to readers of this blog (see here).

This week’s post is devoted again to the Paulus Handbuch (ed. Friedrich W. Horn; Mohr Siebeck, 2013; see here and PDF).

In my last Paulus Handbuch Series post I looked at Reinhard von Bendemann‘s discussion of Bultmann, Käsemann, and the Righteousness of God in Paul. Building on this post, today’s quotation is taken from Michael Bachmann‘s section on “The New Perspective on Paul” and “The New View of Paul”.

As usual I will begin with the English translation so that the grammatical commentary directly follows the German text. Since it is a both a difficult and a short sentence, I will analyze it as a model sentence.

I. Text and Translation

If one summarizes what has thus far been said on the New Perspective, then the result is as follows: The concern is with a direction of research, which has been developing since the 1960s and is in itself quite differentiated, that finds a unifying point above all in the fact that in the proto-Pauline letters, precisely also in formulations on justification, it believes it can make out something like a sociological dimension, which has more precisely to do with the relation of early Christianity to Judaism. Here an important role is usually assigned to the expression “works of the law”, insofar as with it a connection to Jewish identity markers is often claimed. Then the concern, especially in the formulation of a justification “not from works of the law”, would be with the possibility of an inclusion of non-Jews precisely as non-Jews into the community of salvation.

Fast man das bislang zur New Perspective Gesagte zusammen, so ergibt sich: Es handelt sich um eine sich seit den 1960er Jahren entwickelnde, dabei in sich durchaus differenzierte Forschungsrichtung, die v.a. darin einen Einheitspunkt findet, dass sie in den protopaulinischen Briefen, gerade auch in Formulierungen zur Rechtfertigung, so etwas wie eine soziologische Dimension auszumachen meint, die es genauer mit dem Verhältnis der frühen Christenheit zum Judentum zu tun hat. Dabei kommt zumeist dem Ausdruck “Werke des Gesetzes” eine wichtige Rolle zu, sofern bei ihm oft ein Bezug zu jüdischen Identitätsmerkmalen behauptet wird. Dann ginge es zumal bei der Formulierung von einer Rechtfertigung “nicht aus Werken des Gesetzes” um die Möglichkeit einer Inklusion von Nichtjuden eben als Nichtjuden in die Heilsgemeinde.

II. Extensive Grammatical Analysis

Fast … zusammen = zusammenfassen = summarizes; the fact that the verb stands in the first position lets you know that it needs to be translated “if …”. man = one. das … Gesagte = that which has been said = what has been said (past particle of sagen; with the neuter article “das” + capitalization it becomes a substantive); bis lang modifies Gesagte (what has been said “thus far/to date/up to now/previously”) and zur New Perspective specifies the topic “on the New Perspective”. so ergibt sich is difficult: as part of the if-then-construction, so can be translated as “then”; ergibt sich = arises or emerges but here the sense probably needs to be unpacked to read “then the result is as follows” or “then the following emerges” etc. Es handelt sich um = the concern is with or we are dealing with. eine … Forschungrichtung depends on um. It is modified by participial phrases (sich … entwickelnde and … in sich differenzierte …) and a relative clause (die … findet), which creates a problem since this usually can’t be reproduced in English. I converted the participial modifiers to two relative clauses, namely “which has been developing and is in itself quite differentiated” and “that finds …”, using “which” and then “that” because it seemed to me that the first relative clause (which) was a “non-defining relative clause” and the second one a defining relative clause (that), but I often struggle with this issue so I could be off here. sich entwickende is present but in English it has to become a past tense (has been developing) with seit 1960er (since the 1960s): German (like Greek, I think) uses the present tense when a past action extends into the present whereas English uses a past tense in such cases. I left dabei untranslated. I translated durchaus as “quite” and differenzierte as differentiated. die is feminine singular because this is the gender and number of its antecedent Forschungsrichtung; it is nominative because it is the subject of findet (that finds). v.a. = vor allem = above all. einen Einheitspunkt is accusative because it is the direct object of findet. darin … dass = therein that = in the fact that. sie is the subject and meint is the main verb; I translated sie … meint auszumachen as “believes it can make out”, which I hope is correct. so etwas wie eine soziologische Dimension = “something like a sociological dimension”: not sure exactly how to describe what is going on grammatically, which reminds me that I really do need to work through a German grammar at some point! The relative pronoun die, which I think looks back to eine soziologische Dimension (rather than Forschungsrichtung) is the subject and hat zu tun is the main verb (has to do). I’m not sure what es is doing? Perhaps literally “which has it to do more precisely with…”? genau becomes genauer in the comparative form: “more precisely/exactly”. mit (with) + dative dem Verhältnis (the relationship) + genitive der frühen Christenheit (of early Christianity) + zu (to) + dative dem Judentum => zum Judentum. I translated the always troublesome Dabei as “Here”. kommt zu with Rolle (role) + dative (dem Ausdruck) = an important (wichtige) role is usually (meist) ascribed (zukommen) to the expression (dem Ausdruck). Werke (works) + genitive des Gesetzes (of the Law). sofern = insofar as. bei is difficult to capture in English; sometimes “in” works best and sometimes “with” is better; ihm refers back to dem Ausdruck: with it. I often translate Bezug as “reference” but I was concerned that this translation might say more than Bachman wanted to say, so I went with “connection” (relation would perhaps also have worked); it is the subject of wird behauptet (is claimed). a connection zu (to/with) + dative Jewish identity markers. Dann = then. I believe ginge is subjunctive, and that it has the force of “would be concerned with” (see further my post on es geht um). I am uncertain about the force of zumal: I think it has the force of “especially” or “above all”, but it might have the sense of “namely” or perhaps even “at least”, though I couldn’t find support for the last proposal. Here I translated bei as “in” + dative der Formulierung + von (of) + dative einer Rechtfertigung. I translated Rechtfertigung as justification (there is obviously lots of discussion about what terminology to use for the Greek word here); like the Greek the German has “not from works of the law”; English usually has “not by works of the law”, but I retained “from”. um die Möglichkeit (with the possibility) + genitive einer Inklusion (of an inclusion) + von (of) + dative Nichtjuden (non-Jews). eben has the force of “precisely” + als (as) + Nichtjuden (non-Jews). I expected to find in der Heilsgemeinde rather than in die Heilsgemeinde but Inklusion must have an active force so that the accusative is used, for which reason I chose to write “into” the community of salvation.

III. Substantive analysis

On the one hand, I agree with Michael Bachmann that one of the enduring contributions of the New Perspective on Paul resides in its sensitivity to the presence of a sociological dimension that can be discerned in many of the key Pauline texts under discussion. And I think it is a shame when detractors of the New Perspective are unwilling to acknowledge this contribution with appreciation. On the other hand, I think there is much room for debate concerning the exact place that is assigned to this dimension in our attempts to unpack Paul’s argumentation in general and his language about justification and “works of the law” in particular. To name one point of hesitation, I seems problematic to me when the language of “justification” and “works of the law” is linked too exclusively to the inclusion of Gentiles, since Paul’s argument in Galatians 2 proceeds from a claim about justification/works of the law in relation to Jewish believers to a claim about justification/works of the law in relation to Gentile believers. Readers of Bachmann’s discussion of the “works of the law” in this section of the Paulus Handbuch may also wish to consult Otfried Hofius’s critique of Bachmann’s interpretation of “works of the law” in his Exegetische Studien (pp. 49-88 and 89-94).

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German Mondays: Thank you for making it to the end of this blog post! Unfortunately, I have found it increasingly difficult to write a new post each Monday, but I hope to be able to write at least two or three Monday blog posts each month. We’ll see. Best, Wayne.

 

Matthias Konradt and the Publication of Israel, Church, and the Gentiles in the Gospel of Matthew (BMSEC 2)

As a way of celebrating the publication of this year’s BMSEC volume,  Israel, Church, and the Gentiles in the Gospel of Matthew, today’s “German scholars” post is devoted to Matthias Konradt, Professor of New Testament Theology at the University of Heidelberg and Editor of the Zeitschrift für die Neutestamentliche Wissenschaft.

The category “German scholars” seeks to introduce German scholars and their research to the English-speaking world. Each post consists of (I) a translation of a short passage from a publication submitted by the German author her/himself and (II) some biographical-bibliographical information about the scholar in question. For further information on this category, see here. For my other “German scholars” posts, see here.

Rather than including a grammatical analysis for this post, let me simply express my great admiration for Kathleen Ess’s elegant translation of this quotation and of the volume as a whole!

I. Translation

Israel, Church, and the Gentiles in the Gospel of Matthew (p. 324; translated by Kathleen Ess): [T]he central aspect of the Matthean narrative program is to be seen in that the evangelist interlaced the missions to Israel and the nations with the development of Jesus’ messianic identity as the Son of David and the Son of God. The presentation of the Davidic Messiah’s ministry to his people is followed by the inclusion of the nations in salvation on the basis of the death of the Son of God for the “many” and the installation of the Son of God as the universal Lord, equipped with universal authority. Just as the universal dimension of salvation is indicated prior to Matthew’s portrayal of Jesus’ ministry in Israel, so too is Jesus’ identity as the Son of God presented before his portrayal as the Davidic Messiah. Jesus’ salvific death and resurrection, or exaltation, are for Matthew the kairos in which his divine sonship becomes a “public” topic, as does the universal significance of the salvation Jesus has brought about. The two soteriological horizons of the two commissions in 10.5– 6 and 28.19 are thus to be seen in connection with the narrative Christology of the Matthean Jesus story.

Israel, Kirche und die Völker im Matthäusevangelium (p. 347-348): Das zentrale Moment der matthäischen Erzählkonzeption ist … darin zu sehen, dass der Evangelist den Zusammenhang von Zuwen­dung zu Israel und Völkermission mit der Entfaltung der messianischen Identität Jesu als Sohn Davids und Sohn Gottes verschränkt hat. Nach der Darlegung der Zuwendung des davidischen Messias zu seinem Volk er­folgt die Einbeziehung der Völker in das Heil auf der Basis des Todes des Gottessohnes für die „Vielen“ und der Einsetzung des Gottessohnes zum mit universaler Vollmacht ausgestatteten Weltenherrn. Wie die universale Dimension des Heils als Vorzeichen vor Matthäus’ Darstellung des Wir­kens Jesu in Israel gesetzt ist, so steht die Gottessohnwürde Jesu als Vor­zeichen vor seiner Präsentation als davidischer Messias. Heilstod und Auf­erweckung bzw. Erhöhung Jesu sind für Matthäus der Kairos, an dem seine Gottessohnwürde ‚öffentliches‘ Thema wird und damit verbunden die uni­versale Bedeutung des von Jesus gewirkten Heils hervortritt. Die unter­schiedlichen soteriologischen Horizonte der beiden Aussendungen in 10,5f und 28,19 sind also mit der narrativen Christologie der matthäischen Je­susgeschichte in Verbindung zu bringen.

II Biographical-Bibliographical Information

The Gospel of Matthew developed as one of my main fields of interest quite early. At the end of my theological education at the University of Heidelberg, I had to write a thesis paper on the topic “Israel and Salvation History According to the Gospel of Matthew”. From that point on, the exegesis of Matthew’s Gospel has been my steady companion, although it took a backseat during my dissertation work on the Letter of James (University of Heidelberg, published in 1998 with Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht), my pastoral internship, and my postdoctoral thesis (Habilitationsschrift) on the concept of judgment in Paul (published in 2003 with de Gruyter). From 2003 on, I intensified my work on the Gospel of Matthew. One of the results was my monograph on “Israel, Church, and the Gentiles in the Gospel of Matthew”, published in German in 2007 with Mohr Siebeck. The monograph focuses on what I consider to be one of the most central problems for understanding the theology of the Gospel of Matthew—namely, identifying the cause for the transition from the Israel-centered, pre-Easter ministry of Jesus and his disciples to the universal mission post-Easter, and the relationship between the formation of the Church and Israel’s role as God’s chosen nation in Matthew’s concept. Contrary to the traditional interpretation, which suggests that Matthew advocates the replacement of Israel by the Church and—in keeping with this—of the mission to Israel by the universal mission, my thesis is that the Israel-centered and the universal dimensions of salvation are positively interconnected in the narrative conception, in which Matthew develops Jesus’ messianic identity as the Son of David and the Son of God.

After the publication of this monograph, I started to write a commentary on Matthew’s Gospel which will be published with Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht at Göttingen in April 2015, and as part of my participation in the project Corpus Judaeo-Hellenisticum Novi Testamenti I am preparing the volume on the Gospel of Matthew. My other projects include a book on New Testament ethics, a monograph on Paul’s life, letters and theology as well as commentaries on the Epistles to the Thessalonians and a commentary on Ephesians.

For a list of Prof. Konradt’s English Publications, see here. For a full bibliography of his publications, see here.

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German Mondays: Thank you for making it to the end of this blog post! Unfortunately, I have found it increasingly difficult to write a new post each Monday, but I hope to be able to write at least two or three Monday blog posts each month. We’ll see. Best, Wayne.

 

 

Defining Institutions with Christoph Markschies

I was extremely happy this week to submit my completed translation of Christoph Markschies’ book Kaiserzeitliche christliche Theologie und ihre Institutionen: Prolegomena zu einer Geschichte der antiken christlichen Theologie / Christian Theology and its Institutions in the Early Roman Empire: Prolegomena to a History of Early Christian TheologyThis translation has proven to be an especially challenging and rewarding project and I very much look forward to its publication in October 2015. Today’s key quotation from this book is related to one of its most important features, namely its sustained focus on institutions (see here for my other posts on this book).  

As usual I will begin with the English translation so that the selective grammatical commentary directly follows the German text.

Christian Theology and its Institutions in the Early Roman Empire (wmc): While they [Harnack and Mommsen] tied the concept of institutions to the legal norming of societal forms of order, I wish to take the definition—which stands in the tradition of Arnold Gehlen—of the Dresden special research area “Institutionalität und Geschichtlichkeit” (institutionality and historicality) as a basis for the following chapters of this monograph: institutions are defined there as “social arrangements that outwardly and inwardly effectively suggest and bring into force stability and duration” and in which especially “the action-guiding and communication-directing foundations of an order are always also symbolically brought to expression”. In my view, such a concept of institutions is shown, despite all its problems, to be considerably more practicable for the portrayal of an emerging religion than the legally colored definition from the beginning of the twentieth century.

Kaiserzeitliche christliche Theologie und ihre Institutionen (pp. 33-34): Während diese [Harnack und Mommsen] den Institutionenbegriff an die rechtliche Normierung von gesellschaftlichen Ordnungsgestalten banden, möchte ich für die folgenden Kapitel dieser Monographie die in der Tradition von Arnold Gehlen stehende Definition des Dresdner Sonderforschungsbereichs “Institutionalität und Geschichtlichkeit” zugrundelegen: Dort definiert man Institutionen als “soziale Arrangements, die nach außen und innen Stabilität und Dauer erfolgreich suggerieren und zur Geltung bringen” und in denen insbesondere “die handlungsleitenden und kommunikationssteuernden Grundlagen einer Ordnung immer auch symbolisch zum Ausdrck gebracht werden”. Ein solcher offener Institutionenbegriff erweist sich ungeachtet aller seiner Probleme meines Erachtens für die Darstellung einer im Entstehen befindlichen Religion als wesentlich praktikabler als der juristisch gefärbte vom Anfang des zwanzigsten Jahrhunderts.

* The quoted material comes from G. Mellville and P. von Moss, “Gleitwort.” Page V in Das Öffentliche und Private in der Vormoderne (1998)

Selective grammatical analysis: Let me limit my comments today to a single point, namely the challenge of translating the word Normierung, which Markschies frequently employs in this volume and elsewhere. Given the difficulty and importance of this term, I explain my translation of this word in the preface as follows: “One particularly difficult point of translation may be mentioned here, namely the translation of the terms Normierung(en), Normierungsprozesse, normieren, and normiert. With a view to English speech conventions, I considered using the language of ‘standardization(s), standardization processes, standardize, and standardized’ for this set of terms. Since, however, Markschies’s word choice places the emphasis on the setting of a norm in general, with the result that the language of ‘standardization’ is likely to convey an overly limited impression of what is in view, I decided instead to render these terms in a more wooden fashion as ‘norming(s) or norm-setting(s), norming processes, norm, and normed.’ I realize, of course, that not all will agree with this translation decision, but I hope that this note helps to clarify my reasons for proceeding in this manner.

Substantive analysis: in a similar manner as Jens Schröter’s volume From Jesus to the New Testament, Christoph Markschies’ work effectively combines methodological sophistication and penetrating interaction with primary sources and this combination is one of the features of their respective works that I find especially attractive. Accordingly, I hope that I will be able to show in future posts how Markschies’ open definition of institutions can illuminate our reading of early Christian texts and our conceptualizations of early Christianity. For now, I will simply note that his adoption of an open definition of institutions allows him to apply this term to more phenomena than is the case for definitions that focus on the legal norming of societal forms of order.

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German Mondays: Thank you for making it to the end of this blog post! Unfortunately, I have found it increasingly difficult to write a new post each Monday, but I hope to be able to write at least two or three Monday blog posts each month. We’ll see. Best, Wayne.

 

 

 

Jörg Frey on the Historicizing Approach to Johannine Interpretation

Looking into the future, this week’s post comes from my übernächsten translation project, namely Jörg Frey‘s book Die Herrlichkeit des Gekreuzigten: Studien zu den Johanneischen Schriften I / The Glory of the Crucified One: Studies on the Johannine Writings I. For all my posts on this book see here.

Today’s key quotation is taken from Frey’s introductory chapter “Ways and Perspectives of the Interpretation of the Gospel of John. Reflections on the Way to a Commentary”. More specifically,  it comes from section 1: Five Classic Model of Interpretation, which provides an analysis of The Theological Approach (1.1.), The Historicizing Approach (1.2), The zeitgeschichtlicher approach (1.3), The literarkritische and Redaction-critical Approach (1.4), and the literaturwissenschaftliche or Narratological Approach (1.5). [Still need to think about the translation of some of these terms]

As usual I will begin with the English translation so that the (selective) grammatical commentary directly follows the German text.

I. Translation

The Glory of the Crucified One (wmc): A second approach stands in a complementary relation to the first. It has largely disappeared from the scholarly discussion in the German-language sphere but it still occurs in ‘naive’ readings and it finds defenders time and again in conservative-evangelical circles, above all in North America. It is the historicizing exposition, which in the episodes reported in John and also from the Johannine speeches wants to see, almost without exception, information about the time and history of Jesus and thus reads the Johannine work solely with reference to the time and history of Jesus. … A thoroughgoing reading of the Johannine text in the horizon of the time and history of Jesus strikes upon insurmountable limits, and it appears that with some – not all – evangelical commentators deference to the public interested in the historicity of the biblical texts, to sponsors or the statements of faith of a specific teaching institution impairs too much the view of the freedom of the Johannine manner of presentation and thus a reflection on its problems that is appropriate to the subject matter and honest. One must, however, hold fast to the particula veri of the historicizing interpretation: According to its own claim, the Gospel of John is not a timeless and placeless ‘mythological’ presentation, but rather the narrated witness of the history of Jesus of Nazareth that is concrete and anchored in space and time – irrespective of the clear traces of post Easter and addressee-oriented shaping.

Die Herrlichkeit des Gekreuzigten (pp. 8 … 12): Ein zweiter Ansatz steht dem ersten komplementär gegenüber. Er ist aus dem wissenschaftlichen Gespräch im deutschsprachigen Raum weithin verschwunden, begegnet aber nach wie vor in ‘naiven’ Lektüren und findet in konservativ-evangelikalen Kreisen, vor allem in Nordamerika immer wieder Verteidiger. Er ist die historisierende Auslegung, die in den bei Johannes berichteten Begebenheiten und auch aus den johanneischen Reden Jesu fast durchweg Informationen über die Zeit und Geschichte Jesu sehen will und somit das johanneische Werk allein mit Blick auf die Zeit und Geschichte Jesu liest. … Eine konsequente Lektüre des johanneischen Textes im Horizont der Zeit und Geschichte Jesu stößt an unüberwindliche Grenzen, und es scheint, daß bei manchen – nicht allen – evangelikalen Kommentatoren die Rücksichtnahme auf das an der Historizität der biblischen Texte interessierte Publikum, auf Sponsoren oder die Glaubenssätze einer spezifischen Lehrinstitution den Blick auf die Freiheit der johanneischen Darstellungsweise und damit eine sachgemäße und aufrichtige Reflexion ihrer Probleme allzusehr beeinträchtigen. Festzuhalten ist freilich die particula veri der historisierenden Auslegung: Das Johannesevangelium ist nach eigenem Anspruch keine zeit- und ortlose ‘mythologische’ Darstellung, sondern das erzählte Zeugnis der konkreten, in Raum und Zeit verankerten Geschichte Jesu von Nazareth – ungeachtet der deutlichen Spuren nachösterlicher und adressatenbezogener Ausgestaltung.

Select grammatical analysis: (2) although it is weaker, I often use “still” for nach wie vor. In order to identify the object of findet one needs to look ahead to Verteidiger, which is at the very end of the sentence. (3) For historisieren I often use “historize” rather than “historicize” since the latter is a somewhat loaded word, but it seems like “historicize” might be preferable here, with the meaning of “treat or represent as historical”. I considered using “events” to translate Begebenheiten, but went with “episodes” in order to distinguish this term from Ereignisse. I translated fast durchweg as “almost without exception”, but “almost always” might be just as good or better.  (4) I am not sure if “deference” is the best translation of Rücksichtnahme…auf or if “consideration of/for” or another alternative would be better. sachgemäß is difficult: appropriate would be preferable with a view to readability in the target language, but it seems to me that something important is lost with this translation, so I adopted “appropriate to the subject matter”. “honest” seemed to capture the force of aufrichtig here, i.e., instead of alternatives such as “sincere”, “genuine”, or “upright”.  For beeinträchtigen I debated between impairs, negatively impacts, and compromises – I’m not sure why it is plural, unless die Rücksichtnahme is plural; even if it is plural, I think the singluar translation is correct in English.  I am unsure whether the force of Reflexion ihrer Probleme is “reflection on its problems” or “reflection of its problems”, but I think the former is correct. (5) It seemed appropriate to translate sondern as “but rather” here. I am not sure if “addressee-oriented” is an adequate translation for addressatenbezogener, but it was the best I could come up with,

Substantial analysis: As with my last post in this series, I am basically on the same page as Frey in his assessment of the historicizing approach. Specifically, with Frey I would like to affirm both that the Gospel of John is concerned with the concrete history of Jesus in space and time and that (to a greater degree than the Synoptics) this Gospel reflects post-Easter shaping and the life setting of the author and the author’s community at many points. I am, however, less comfortable with Frey’s attribution of some evangelical scholars’ advocacy of the historicizing approach to deference to institutions, sponsors, or statements of faith, even with his important qualification some – not all. It is not that I doubt that this plays a role in at least some cases, but simply that I think there is more to be gained by assuming/presuming the best of the vast majority of (conservative) evangelical scholars. In particular, while I assume that the diverse contexts and atmospheres in which scholars work shape our perspectives to a great extent and recognize that this sometimes makes scholars of various persuasions toe various lines, I also assume that evangelical scholars who hold to a more maximalist assessment of the extent to which John’s narrative can be situated in the life of Jesus do so because they remain convinced of the viability of this reading rather than that their view is (primarily or exclusively) determined by deference to others, just as I hope that evangelical scholars will give me the benefit of the doubt and assume that I have come to a different judgment in this matter because my sustained engagement with the texts and critical issues has led me to believe that this is the best explanation and not simply because I am am eager to be accepted by others who teach in a public institution like I do, etc. In short, I am hesitant to frame my difference of viewpoint in this matter to a difference in the extent to which I am “honest” or the extent to which I am “toeing a given line”, but I am in agreement with Frey’s assessment that strong forms of the historicizing approach face insurmountable limits and with his conviction that this approach does not do justice to the freedom of the Johannine manner of presentation. In other words, I am critical of this approach because I think it  ultimately fails to “Let John be John” (James Dunn).

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Torsten Jantsch and God as Creator in Paul (German Scholars Post)

Before starting this blog post, let me begin by congratulating my wife Ingie Hovland for her now position as an editor in the new anthropology section at the Marginalia Review of Books (see here)!

This post falls under one of my favorite categories on this blog, namely “German scholars”. The purpose of this category is to introduce German scholars and their research to the English-speaking world. Each post will consist of (I) my translation of a short passage from a publication submitted by the German author her/himself and (II) some biographical-bibliographical information about the scholar in question. For further information on this category, see here. For my other “German scholars” posts, see here.

Today’s “German scholar” is Dr. Torsten Jantsch of the Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich. As his passage of choice, he has selected an excerpt from his book “Gott alles in allem” (1Kor 15,28). Studien zum Gottesverständnis des Paulus im 1. Thessalonicherbrief und in der korinthischen Korrespondenz. Wissenschaftliche Monographien zum Alten und Neuen Testament 129. Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag, 2011.

As usual I will begin with the English translation so that the selective grammatical commentary can directly follow the German version.

I. Translation

English Translation (wmc). A pass through the texts in which Paul thematizes God as creator or the world as God’s creation has shown how much his thinking is rooted in Old Testament and Early Jewish conceptions. Paul is especially stamped by Hellenistic-Jewish conceptions and patterns of interpretation, as is shown by the receding of the “hand-crafted” elements of the biblical creation story in favor of an act of creation through the word and by the theme of creatio ex nihilo. It has become evident that creation faith is in fact a fundamental theme of Pauline theology; to this extent “the apprehension of reality as God’s creation”, as Jürgen Becker has formulated, “determines Paul’s thinking in a constitutive manner” [Jürgen Becker, Paulus. Der Apostel der Völker [Uni Taschenbücher 2014], Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1998, p. 402]. One can differentiate three aspects that stand in the foreground in Paul depending on the pragmatic of the textual context.

a) The conception of God as creator grounds especially the sovereignty of God, inter alia, to act in history and with humans and his right to veneration.

b) God’s action of creation corresponds to the power of God and continues in God’s redemptive action in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, in the effective power of the gospel and in the eschatological consummation of creation (resurrection of the dead).

c) The conception of the world as creation emphasizes its inferiority vis-à-vis God, its deficiency and need for redemption, but also grounds the perspective of hope, because God takes the side of his creation and does not abandon it to forsakenness.

“Gott alles in allem” (p. 197). Ein Gang durch die Texte, in denen Paulus Gott als Schöpfer oder die Welt als Gottes Schöpfung thematisiert, hat gezeigt, wie sehr sein Denken in alttestamentlichen und frühjüdischen Vorstellungen verwurzelt ist. Dabei ist Paulus besonders durch hellenistisch-jüdische Vorstellungen und Interpretationsmuster geprägt, wie das Zurücktreten des “handwerklichen” Elements der biblischen Schöpfungsgeschichten zugunsten eines Schöpfungshandelns durch das Wort sowie die Thematik der creatio ex nihilo zeigt. Es hat sich gezeigt, dass der Schöpfungsglaube in der Tat ein Grundthema der paulinischen Theologie ist; insofern “bedingt die Auffassung der Wirklichkeit als Schöpfung Gottes”, wie es Jürgen Becker formuliert hat, “in konstitutiver Weise das paulinische Denken” [Jürgen Becker, Paulus. Der Apostel der Völker [Uni Taschenbücher 2014], Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1998, p. 402]. Dabei kann man drei Aspekte differenzieren, die bei Paulus je nach Pragmatik des Textzusammenhangs im Vordergrund stehen:

a) Die Vorstellung von Gott als Schöpfer begründet besonders die Souveränität Gottes, u.a. zu seinem Handeln in Geschichte und an Menschen, und sein Recht auf Verehrung.

b) Gottes Schöpfungshandeln entspringt der Macht Gottes und setzt sich in Gottes erlösendem Handeln in der Auferweckung Jesu Christi, in der Wirkmacht des Evangeliums und in der endzeitlichen Vollendung der Schöpfung (Auferweckung der Toten) fort.

c) Die Vorstellung von der Welt als Schöpfung betont ihre Inferiorität gegenüber Gott, ihre Unzulänglichkeit und Erlösungsbedürftigkeit, begründet aber auch die Hoffnungsperspektive, weil Gott sich zu seiner Schöpfung stellt und sie nicht der Verlorenheit preisgibt.

Selective grammatical analysis: It is often best to leave dabei untranslated as I have done twice in this passage. Depending on the context, I usually translate geprägt as “shaped” or “characterized”, but I here I chose “stamped”, which is a solution that other translators often adopt. I am not sure how to best capture “handwerklichen”, but it seemed desirable to choose a solution that used “hand”, so I went with hand-crafted; I also considered workmanlike but it didn’t seem quite right. Es hat gezeigt could perhaps also be translated as “it has become clear” or “it turned out”; I think “it has been shown” might shift the emphasis a bit too much. je nach has the force of “depending on” or “according to”. Under a): I found the grammatical connection of zu difficult, but went with to act in history and with humans, after consulting Torsten Jantsch. Under b): Wirkmacht is a great word: hopefully “effective power” captures its sense. Under c: I found the translation of stellt sich zu very difficult, and went with takes the side of his creation after consultation with Torsten Jantsch. I was not able to find an elegant solution for Verlorenheit, but went with forsakenness instead of lostness or forlornness.

II. Biographical-Bibliographical Information

I was born 1976 in Zwickau, Germany.  I studied Protestant Theology in Leipzig (1996–2000) and Berlin (Humboldt University, 2000–2002). I wrote my PhD dissertation on Paul’s concept of God in 1 Thessalonians and his Corinthian Correspondence at Humboldt University, Berlin, under the supervision of Cilliers Breytenbach. It was published in 2011. I am Assistent and Akademischer Rat (corresponding Senior Lecturer) at Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich, since 2009 and 2011, respectively.

I learned from my academic teachers, Cilliers Breytenbach (Berlin) and David S. du Toit (Munich), that linguistic approaches like semantics, argumentative and narrative analysis are keys to an  understanding of Early Christian texts as elements of a historical communication. My research interests are the Theology of Paul and of Luke-Acts, concepts of God in the New Testament in the context of Early Jewish and Ancient philosophic discourses about God, socio-historic backgrounds of the New Testament, particularly man and woman, Early Christian prophecy in the context of Ancient concepts of prophecy and inspired speech. My current research (my habilitation) is on the concept of salvation of Luke-Acts in the context of Ancient religion and culture.

Selected Publications

ΙΗΣΟΥΣ ΣΩΤΗΡ: Studien zum Verhältnis von Christologie und Soteriologie im lukanischen Doppelwerk, in progress (habilitation).

Frauen, Männer, Engel: Perspektiven zu 1Kor 11,2–16. Mit Beiträgen von David S. du Toit, Torsten Jantsch und Loren T. Stuckenbruck und einer Bibliographie von Jacob Brouwer, ed. by Torsten Jantsch (Biblisch-Theologische Studien 152), Neukirchen-Vluyn, Neukirchener Verlag, 2014, forthcoming (November, 2014).

“Gott alles in allem” (1Kor 15,28). Studien zum Gottesverständnis des Paulus im 1. Thessalonicherbrief und in der korinthischen Korrespondenz (Wissenschaftliche Monographien zum Alten und Neuen Testament 129), Neukirchen-Vluyn, Neukirchener Verlag, 2011.

For more information, see his website www.verbum-et-fides.de. An updated cv with publications can be found at http://www.verbum-et-fides.de/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Jantsch_cv_english_publish.pdf

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