Markus Öhler, “Das ganze Haus. Antike Alltagsreligiosität und die Apostelgeschichte”, ZNW 102, 2011, 201-234

This post falls under one of my favorite categories on this blog, namely “German scholars”. The purpose of this category is to introduce junior and senior 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 him/herself 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 Prof. Markus Öhler of the University of Vienna. As his passage of choice, Prof. Öhler has submitted an excerpt from the following work: “Das ganze Haus. Antike Alltagsreligiosität und die Apostelgeschichte”, ZNW 102, 2011, 201-234. See further here.

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): “Thus, also in places where a pagan household turned completely to faith in God and Christ, as in the case of the prison guard of Philippi, it is implied for Luke and his readers that this left its mark also on the house as a building and the religious daily life that took place therein. Cultic images and house altars were expelled, the daily rites for Hestia, Zeus, and the Agathos Daimon were abandoned, the gods of the family that had been revered for generations were rejected as idols. Thus, the household as religious paradigm is characterized by the fact that in it the faith in the Kurios Christ pre-given by the head of the household is lived out in daily life. Thus the religious experience of the community realizes itself in the non-public sphere of the house and the family, which thus becomes the cult fellowship for God and Christ.”

„Das Ganze Haus“ (p. 234): „So wird auch dort, wo wie im Fall des Gefängniswärters von Philippi eine pagane Hausgemeinschaft sich vollständig dem Glauben an Gott und Christus zuwandte, für Lukas und seine Leser und Leserinnen impliziert sein, dass dies auch am Haus als Gebäude und dem sich darin vollziehenden religiösen Alltag nicht spurlos vorüberging. Kultbilder und Hausaltäre wurden hinausgeschafft, die täglichen Riten für Hestia, Zeus und den Agathos Daimon aufgegeben, die seit Generationen verehrten Götter der Familie als Götzen abgelehnt. Die Hausgemeinschaft als religiöses Paradigma zeichnet sich also dadurch  aus, dass in ihr der durch den Haushaltsvorstand vorgegebene Glaube an den Kyrios Christos im Alltag gelebt wird. Damit vollzieht sich das religiöse Erleben der Gemeinde im nicht-öffentlichen Bereich des Hauses und der Familie, die damit zur Kultgemeinschaft für Gott und Christus wird.“

Selective Grammatical Analysis: “So wird auch dort … impliziert sein, dass” is the basic building block of the difficult first sentence. It means „Thus it is implied also there that”. Since, however, “there, where” does not really work as a translation for “dort, wo” in English, I have translated “dort, wo” with “in places where”. Another common solution to this problem is to use “when” instead of “where”, which is more idiomatic. “am Haus … nicht spurlos vorüberging” could be translated literally as “did not pass by the house … without a trace”, but I decided to render it more idiomatically as “left its mark also upon the house…”. “zeichnet sich dadurch aus, dass” could also be translated with “is distinguished by the fact that” instead of “is characterized by the fact that”. I am uncertain how to translate “durch den Haushaltsvorstand vorgegebene Glaube”: I opted for the wooden “faith … pre-given by the head of the household”, though “prescribed by the head of the household” might be preferable, unless it shifts the meaning too much. I am uncertain whether “cult fellowship” is an adequate translation for “Kultgemeinschaft“. Other options might be “cultic fellowship” or “cult community”.

II. Biographical-Bibliographical Information about Markus Öhler

In the context of my PhD dissertation I especially dealt with the Jesus tradition (Elia im Neuen Testament, 1997). In my Habilitation, I then turned my attention to the history of early Christianity (Barnabas, 2003). Since then I have focused on two main areas of research. First, I have occupied myself with the social history of early Christianity, with an emphasis on the understanding of early Christian communities as a type (Spielart) of Greco-Roman associations (for example with regard to table fellowship and setting in houses). Secondly, I have focused on explaining early Christianity as part of Hellenistic-Roman history of religions, with a focus at present on religiosity in daily life. I teach New Testament in all its breadth for BA, MA, and PhD students at the Protestant Faculty of Theology of the University of Vienna where I studied and have remained, apart from a two-year research period in Tübingen. From the small Protestant faculty in Vienna, which represents an island in a land that is mostly Catholic, I attempt, by hosting conferences in Vienna and by attending conferences abroad, to take my exegetical approach into the world and to learn from all the world.

For further details on Prof. Öhler’s research and publications, please see here.

For a complete list of my blog posts, please see here.

For tips on how to use this blog, please see here.

For two interviews with me about the Baylor-Mohr Siebeck Series, see Clifford Kvidahl and Michael Hölscher.

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German Mondays: Thank you for making it to the end of this blog post! In an effort to provide a sense of regularity and predictability for this blog’s readership, I plan on writing a new post each Monday. So hopefully I will ‘see’ you again in a week’s time. Best, Wayne.

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