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, and here for audio recordings and videos of Christoph Markschies)

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 continues my series of posts on 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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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.

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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