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

Facebook Page: To receive notifications of future blog posts, please subscribe to this blog and/or like my facebook page here.

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

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

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s