Eberhard Jüngel: Love is Still Able to be Intensified

As a preface to today’s post, let me note that I have recently discovered five promising German resources, which may also be of interest to readers of this blog: (1) In July 2015 the Johannes Guttenberg Universität Mainz will be hosting an International Summerschool on German (and) Theology; (2) the Conversational Koine Institute has announced that it will be offering a new Conversational German Class; (3)  the Goethe Institut has recently launched an online game entitled Lern Deutsch; (4) Alexander Sager has started a new blog on raising children bilingually, (5) finally, some German TV recommendations can be found here.

Today’s key quotation is taken from a recent interview with Eberhard Jüngel, which my friend Jay Weldon kindly drew to my attention.

German Text

Ich wende mich gegen eine Rede vom Jenseits, in dem alles “totaliter aliter”, in dem alles total anders ist. Dann müsste man ja schweigen. Das ist aber nicht die Einstellung der Heiligen Schrift. Hier greift das Modell der Analogie: Nicht “totaliter aliter”, wohl aber wird es “aliter”, also anders sein. Aber wie? Es gibt schon hier auf der Erde das Phänomen der Liebe in unterschiedlichster Gestalt. Weh dem Menschen, der das nie erfährt. Die Liebe, die uns widerfährt, wenn wir Gott von Angesicht zu Angesicht sehen, ist auch Liebe – aber gesteigert. Es gibt Phänomene hier in Gottes Schöpfung, die sind in der Ewigkeit steigerungsfähig: Lieben, Loben, Danken, Gemeinschaft.

English Translation

I am opposed to a speech about the beyond in which everything is “totaliter aliter“, in which everything is totally different. Then one would actually have to be silent. But this is not the outlook of Holy Scripture. Here the model of analogy comes into play: Not “totaliter aliter“, but it will be “aliter“, i.e. different. But how? There exists already here on earth the phenomenon of love in the most different forms. Woe to the person who has never experienced this. The love that befalls us when we we see God face to face is also love—but intensified. There are phenomena here in God’s creation that are able to be intensified in eternity: love, praise, thanksgiving, fellowship.

Selective grammatical analysis

For Jenseits I went with “the beyond” rather than “the hereafter”, since the latter shifts the force from place to time. In the second sentence I considered leaving ja untranslated but decided to render it with “actually’, which is hopefully on target. In sentence three I struggled with Einstellung and settled on “outlook” rather than “attitude” or “mindset”. I was uncertain how to render greift but opted for “comes into play”, which hopefully captures the sense. I am often uncertain about the force of wohl: sometimes it means “probably” but sometimes it seems to have a strengthening force so that the meaning is something like “surely”; I think the latter may be the case here, but I decided to leave it untranslated since the force was somewhat unclear to me. Though Gestalt is singular it seemed necessary to write “in the most different forms”. I was not exactly sure how to render das, which I translated as “this”, in the phrase der das nie erfährt. I am not sure if I have made the best choice in the translation of the key word gesteigert/steigerungsfähig: I settled on “intensified”/”able to be intensified”, but perhaps another alternative would be better such as “increased”/”able to be increased”? I chose to render Gemeinschaft with “fellowship”, though “community” might be preferable here.

Substantive analysis

I like this quotation, which I think conveys well something of the manner and content of Jüngel’s thinking. It allows one’s hopes for the world to come to extend beyond what one knows and experiences in this life, while connecting it to the best of what we experience in God’s good creation.

For more on Eberhard Jüngel, 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.

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